Good news if you hate the name of the street you live on
There's good reason to wonder, since there are some pretty weird street names out there, like Psycho Path near Traverse City, Michigan, and Shades of Death Road, New Jersey. (Those streets I found on blogs and then confirmed them on Google Maps. You can also find weird street signs at the web site, FunnySign.com). And then last year, the question inadvertently came up after a reverend made some news when he tried to get Whitewood, South Dakota to change the name of Hooker Street. (It was named after General Joseph Hooker, in the Union army. The town ultimately voted to keep the name.)
I interviewed a few real estate experts, asking if a street sign could negatively or positively affect one's property value, and the consensus among them was: No.
But they agree that a street name can make selling a home a little harder or easier.
"Theoretically, I think it can hurt you, but I don't think it's going to hurt you," suggests Andy Sachs, a real estate agent in Newtown, Connecticut. He gives the example of a street called Poorhouse Road in Newtown. "There are some great houses, but do people want to live on a street called Poorhouse?"
Answering his rhetorical question, Sachs reasons that some people may go try and find another house, but that most, if they fall in love with a home, are going to decide that they can live with the street's name. And in theory, wherever you live, if you plan on selling, says Sachs, "you may want to use your street name for some creative marketing."
For instance, if you live on a Park Avenue street near New York but not in New York, you might say, "22 minutes from the real Park Avenue is this special house on Park Avenue..."
But the fact that you live on a Park Avenue? Don't plan to be raking in extra thousands, or even hundreds.
On the other side of the country, in Scottsdale, Arizona, commercial and residential real estate agent Richard Bazinet, agrees. "I wouldn't say that names bring down the property values, but the street name definitely makes an impact in the appeal, feel and desirability of the property. In the southwest, we have great street names related to the southwest's history and events that may have taken place. Home buyers like it--names like Ironwood Pass, Stagecoach Pass... we even have a street name called Bloody Basin Trail, as a result of historical events that took place in the late 1880s. I find that residents like it very much despite its negative implication. All of this is part of packaging. It sounds better, feels better. You can't really measure it, but it sure does make an impact."
And Jonathan D. Nicholas, national president for the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers, also says that it's unlikely a lousy street name would bring down your property values. "I can't think of why it would," says Nicholas, "unless it was profane."
And if you really dislike your street's name? Nicholas has the most logical advice, which is the route that Reverend David J. Baer attempted last year: "You can always try to go to the city council and get it changed."
Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).