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A Rose By Any Other Name…Might Be Worth More


We are again honored to have Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D. — Florida International University (FIU) and Editor of the Journal of Housing Research as our guest blogger. To view other research from FIU, visit http://realestate.fiu.edu/. - The KCM Crew

What is in a Subdivision’s Name?

The Research

What is in a subdivision’s name?  Is there any pricing effect based on the name of a subdivision?  All else being equal and at first glance, there might not appear to be any relationship between the values of properties in a subdivision and the name of a subdivision.  However, housing is unlike other financial assets (stock and bonds) where only expected returns affect price.  Housing is simultaneously an investment and a consumption good.  This dual role can lead to strange pricing results.  Therefore, a subdivision’s name might convey extra value for reasons of prestige and conspicuous consumption.

Zahirovic-Herbert and Chatterjee (2011)[1] investigate this very question.  Specifically, they examine for the impact on property price for the terms “Country” and “Country Club” in subdivision names in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  After controlling for location, property age, property size, and a host of other property characteristics typically found in housing price studies, they find that buyers assign a pricing premium of 4.2% for “Country” and an additional 5.1% for “Country Club”.  The authors argue that these findings are a result of buyers’ willingness to pay for added prestige from the ownership of properties in these subdivisions.

Implications for Practice

Practicing real estate professionals have been making this conspicuous consumption argument for years to their clients.  It is abundantly clear to agents and brokers that this phenomenon exists.  However, it is hard to persuade buyers that there is reasoning behind this argument because they know that a higher commission is at stake.  Said another way, they think the agent is providing this prestige based argument in order to make a higher commission.

After ready this brief piece, however, agents can point to the science behind conspicuous consumption, subdivision names, and property prices.  Clearly certain subdivision names (that may vary by location across the country)[2] convey additional prestige from ownership, which leads to slightly higher prices for properties within these areas.

It is no longer an agent trying to explain their experience and knowledge to skeptical clients.  Now, there is science (statistical evidence) to support the conspicuous consumption effect in certain subdivision names.

Endnotes


[1] Zahirovic-Herbert, Velma and Swarn Chatterjee.  (2011).  What is the Value of a Name?  Conspicuous Consumption and House Prices.

[2] The concept of conspicuous consumption is clearly present in housing prices.  Unfortunately, the naming that creates extra prestige is unclear and most certainly varies across the country.

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About Ken H. Johnson

Dr. Johnson is a well-known scholar with numerous publications in real estate brokerage, transactional real estate, and real estate investment. Recent articles of Dr. Johnson’s have appeared in Real Estate Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Housing Economics, Journal of Real Estate Research, Journal of Housing Research, The Appraisal Journal, Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education, Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management, and Journal of Real Estate Law. In addition, he has won several Red Pen Awards for outstanding service and contribution to both the Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management and Journal of Housing Research. Dr. Johnson is also a past Editor of the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education. In April 2011, Dr. Johnson became an Editor of the Journal of Housing Research. Additionally, Dr. Johnson has over a decade of applied experience in real estate specializing in the sale of corporate- and lender-owned properties. Dr. Johnson received his doctorate from the University of Alabama in 2001. For additional details, see Dr. Johnson’s current CV at http://realestate.fiu.edu/pdf/Kenneth-Johnson.pdf.

4 Responses to “A Rose By Any Other Name…Might Be Worth More”

  1. Maggie Pollich Patch August 3, 2011 at 9:24 am # Reply

    Now if we could only get the appraisers to understand this and realize they can give Value to more than what is in their “guidelines”……Oh, did I sound bitter??

  2. Mr. K August 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm # Reply

    Mobile home parks, and low cost projects have used great sounding names for decades. But the consumer is no dummy. The name eventually takes on the connotation of the actual location. Even the most regal of names eventually means ‘dump’, ‘trash’, etc. if that is how the area presents itself. You can call a stink weed a rose but it won’t be long before people don’t like roses. Figures lie and liars figure. Any appraiser that gave extra value to a name would be laughed out of his/her credentials….

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  2. BizNews.fiu.edu » Faculty Notes: August 2011 - August 31, 2011

    […] professor and Knight Ridder Center Research Fellow, wrote an entry for the KCM Blog titled “A Rose By Any Other Name . . . Might Be Worth More“on August 3, 2011. Also, he was referenced or quoted in several articles: on August 5, 2011, […]

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