Value. Turns out that your street name has much to do with the value of your home.
Online real estate broker Zillow.com put together a survey of how property values relate to the street names they’re on. The survey team discovered that there’s a lot of power in a name. Street names can indicate whether a neighborhood is old or new, rural or downtown and, often, expensive or cheap. In fact it turns out that property values can swing pretty widely, predicted by nothing more than the street where they’re located.
“We looked at years of data about sales and listings,” Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff wrote in The New York Times. “We learned three things about the relationship between home values and street names: First, names are better than numbers. Second, lanes are better than streets. Third, unusual names are better than common ones.”
How much of a difference can this make? Sometimes enormous.
The most common street name in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is 2nd Street. There are roughly a thousand more 2nd Streets than 1st Streets across the country, suggesting something about our matha abilities.
Nationwide a house located on 2nd Street is worth about 48 percent less than the national average, all other things equal. Spell out Second Street and you make matters worse, those homes sell for 60 percent less than average.
In fact, numbered streets turn people off everywhere in the country except for Atlanta, New York City and Denver. InDenver it seems folks actually prefer streets with numbers instead of names.
Main street is a minus
By Zillow’s estimate a home on Main Street loses 44 percent of its value just by dint of the mailing address. As Rascoff noted, common names in general suffer this fate, and Main Street is one of the most common a town can have. Occupiers everywhere will be pleased to know that Wall Street, while fairly common, tends to have homes worth about 60 percent of the norm.
So where are values above average?
It turns out that every developer who named his subdivision “Shady Acres” was actually on to something. Descriptive names like “Lake Front” and “Sunset” often are indicators of high value, as are unusual names and “Ways,” “Drives” and “Boulevards.” Homes located on Sunset Way, for example, tend to be about 76 percent more expensive than average while Lake Forest Drive gets an 11 percent bump. Idiosyncratic history buffs can also take heart: homes on Verdun Avenue cost 123 percent more than the national average. (The latest Battle of Verdun was fought in France in World War I.)
Don’t read too much into this data.
Rascoff warns readers not to confuse correlation with causation here. In reality, it’s pretty unlikely that home buyers pay close attention to the street signs. Far more likely, they pay attention to what those street signs reflect. Lake Shore Drive has more value because, odds are, that house is somewhere close to a lake and people like water. Mechanically numbered streets may reflect a grid-like or heavily planned development, and older neighborhoods are more likely to end in “Street.” Still, the numbers are there and names have value. They say something about a neighborhood, and might even be a good place to start if you’re looking for a home.