The 'Freakonomics' Take on Real Estate

Could the name of your street affect the price of your home?

ByABC News via logo
August 8, 2007, 8:50 AM

Aug. 8, 2007 — -- Could the name of your street affect the price of your home?

With so many people fascinated by real estate these days, "Freakonomics" author Stephen Dubner looks at real estate from a new angle.

(Starting today, Dubner's Freakonomics blog is moving to The New York Times Web site. If you want to ask Dubner and his "Freakonomics" co-author Steven Leavitt a question, click here.)

So many factors go into the price of a home the location, the number of bathrooms, the school district. But what about the name of your street?

Dubner says yes the rule of first impressions basically applies here because people looking at real estate listings have very little info to go on. A bad name means means fewer people will come to see the house when it's for sale and fewer people means less demand, which means a lower price.

"When your house is on a street with a particularly unpleasant name we have one example Voltage Street people simply get a bad first impression," Dubner said.

Research has found, however, that people's first names seem to have very little affect on others' perception, said Dubner.

"People's first names don't really matter in the long run in terms of their success," Dubner said. "People learn your first name when they are first getting to know you, but your name quickly becomes unimportant compared to other things about you."

Oprah Winfrey might sound like a strange name the first time you hear it, but now that we're so familiar with her, the name works, Dubner said.

When it comes to determining a fair price for your home, you should have more than a single real estate agent helping you.

Dubner recommends using the Web site, which gives estimates of a home's value based on public records, meaning its location and what comparable properties in the same neighborhood have sold for recently.

This is important because it allows buyers and sellers to determine what their home might be worth, instead of putting all their trust in one real estate agent and the price they give.