There has been a lot of controversy in the recent past about cell phone towers in Los Altos. A vocal minority of people there, and in other places, don't want the towers because of appearance issues and concerns over radiation. Unfortunately, without the towers our cellphones don't work. All the promises of 3G or 4G data service on iPhones and Android phones are out the window without strong signals. Which begs the question; do we need to disclose if cellphone service is poor?
I was at a house in Sunnyvale recently that had no 3G service inside the house (or outside for that matter). Inside the home, the call quality was marginal and depended on where I stood. This is especially frustrating because
- the home is in the middle of Silicon Valley - the poster child for modern technology
- the home is located in a flat area with no geographic obstructions
If I were a buyer for that home, I would have noticed the lack of cellphone service and made it a priority to determine if the issue was with my phone or the provider.
Could the lack of cellphone service become a condition for cancelling a contract? Is it an aspect of the property condition in the eyes of the law? For me personally, it would be a deal killer. Never mind the fact that Silicon valley should have 4 bars in every single location, it's crazy that in any house in the flatlands there would be anything less than a strong signal. I understand that the distribution of cell towers impacts signal coverage. Fine. Then we probably need legislation that mandates a minimum distribution so coverage, especially in major metro areas, is 100%.
If the buyer uses their cellphone in place of a landline, then the lack of signal could become a safety issue. If they can't get a signal to dial 911, then what happens in an emergency? Again, this is, in my opinion, an issue of property condition. It may be a condition that impacts many properties nearby but it still impacts the property. Does it impact value? Probably not but it could make it less appealing to many buyers. Again, neighbors taking issue with towers in their area need to be realistic about denying access to a sometimes necessary service.
There are laws in place mandating utilities (water, power, etc) but none in place to mandate phone or cellphone services. Perhaps it's time to change that. If not, then the time may come when disclosing a bad cellphone signal may be required.