Austin Street Names – Does a Politically Incorrect Street Name Affect Home Value?

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on July 13, 2006 · 19 comments

We are purchasing some acreage lots in Oak Hill, and I just found out that other buyers on my street don’t like the name of the street on which our lots are located and have requested the developer to change the name. The street name is ‘Sisquoc’, which I think is a cool name. Sisquoc is a Chumash Indian (from California) name that loosely means “stopping place”. There is a Sisquoc River in California. The developer told me other buyers thought it was too hard to say and spell. Jeez, give me a break! The street is now in the process of being renamed to “San Lucas”.

Anyway, this started me thinking about street names in Austin, and the fact that plenty of streets have names far more undesireable than Sisquoc. For example, the Shady Hollow subdivision in South Austin has streets with names including ‘Shoot Out’, ‘Six Gun’, ‘Gun Fight’, ‘Ammunition’ and ‘Shotgun’.

I asked Sylvia if she would live on a street named “Shoot Out” or “Gun Fight” and she said “no way!”. I wonder if a bleeding left wing liberal would pass up his dream home if it just happened to be situated on ‘George W. Bush Blvd’? Would a Vegetarian pass up a home on Brisket Ln? Would a staunch Chistian Conservative not purchase a home on Devil’s Cove? And therefore do street names affect the marketability and desireability of homes if the name is one in which a person could take offense? I decided to look deeper.

I performed an MLS search for homes in Shady Hollow that have sold since 2000 which are located on the aforementioned streets with gun related names. There have been 71 sales on those particular streets. The average sales price is $179,677, which equals $98 per square foot. I then searched the rest of Shady Hollow, filtering out homes newer than 1993 since all of the aforementioned homes are built before 1993 and we don’t want to polute the results with more expensive newer homes. There were 606 sales of homes with less overt western names. The average sales price is $225,713, which equals $103 per square foot. It appears that the homes with politically incorrect names do not sell for as much compared to other homes in the same subdivision.

The interesting thing is, however, that the politically incorrect homes sold in an average of 37 days while the others took an average of 50 days to sell. This seems conter-intuitive based on the price gap. The politically incorrect homes were an average of 1811 square feet while the others averaged 2144 square feet, which would account for the sales price gap. But smaller homes, in general, sell for a higher per square foot price, and in this case they don’t, which suggests something is out of balance.

This isn’t an exact scientific test, but among the other things a buyer should consider when deciding on a home is whether or not the street name might affect the future marketability of the home.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bill July 13, 2006 at 11:14 pm

Austin have a lot of oaks, so a lot of street names are with this or that oak. Kind of boring. Then there’s this very raw, uncivilized, old western kind of names like “gun fight”, “convict hill”, “slaughter ln”, etc. I wouldn’t call them “politically incorrect”, but they are certainly odd or even bizarre. It would be interesting, though, to make a comparison CMA between a few streets with more desirable names and see whether the gap of selling prices are even bigger.

2 Jennifer July 28, 2006 at 6:54 pm

Hi from San Francisco Steve and Sylvia, hope you’re all well. I’ve got to say I consider myself more of a centrist than a bleeding left wing liberal (then again look where I live) but there is no way I could live on George W Bush Boulevard. Anything but that.

3 Steve Crossland July 28, 2006 at 8:59 pm

Hi Jennifer! Great to hear from you. I hope everything is going well for you and the new house.
Steve

4 Horse N. Buggy May 2, 2007 at 7:03 am

For me, it is all about spellability (if that’s not a word, it is certainly a concept). The issue is telling someone your street name for them to record it, either because you’re a customer or a friend. My first name is not terribly unique, but it’s one of those names that no one knows how to spell. Then my last name is completely unique, so I always have to spell it out for people (even people who’ve known me for years). Now I’ve got to spell out my street name for them, too. My street name has the word “Calypso” in it. No one knows how to spell Calypso. If they do, they ask just to make sure they’re right. It’s really frustrating and I curse the marketing department of the homebuilder each time I have to spell out Calypso.

I still bought my dream home despite the name. But I was getting into the first building of a new townhome neighborhood for a really good deal. If I were looking at several spec homes on different streets, I would take street name into consideration. If all aspects of two homes were even, I’d pick the one with the more spellable name. So that you understand how serious I am…I’m a very devout Christian. I’d rather live on Hell Court than Calypso because everyone can spell Hell.

(By the way, I have worked in the homebuilding industry for 12 years. These are my opinions as a homeowner.)

5 Janet May 2, 2007 at 10:46 am

When we lived in Austin, we lived in Hyde Park, where the streets are all numbered (34th, 35th, etc.) and the avenues are all lettered (Avenue G, Avenue H). Easiest place to find your way around.

6 Steve Crossland May 2, 2007 at 2:41 pm

I love the street name system in Hyde Park also. Our first investment property was on Avenue G. I’m not sure how “Speedway” got in there instead of Ave E though.

One thing that bugs me is when politicians take perfectly good names such as 26th Street near UT and rename it “Dean Keaton”, or changing 1st Street to Ceasar Chavez. Austin is lettered with “honorary” street names of people when the former name was working just fine. I wonder how much is costs to rename a city street, including the cost to businesses in printing new stationary, people getting lost with old maps, etc.?

Steve

7 Horse N. Buggy May 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Renaming well known things is an even bigger pet peeve for me. Why do we no longer have a Candlestick Park? Why must the Atlanta Airport now be named for two men instead of just one (Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport)? If you want to name a completely new thing (stadium, airport, street, etc.) after someone, fine – just don’t rename an existing item. It’s so annoying.

8 Neil Simmons June 21, 2007 at 5:25 am

I suppose logically yes, street names do affect the value of ones property. If you lived in Park Lane, or Mayfair street that would probably psycologically alter the value, even if it’s Mayfair street in Bombay. Likewise, I personally wouldn’t want to live in Diarrhea Close or Pneumonia Avenue. Or perhaps Pratsbottom which is actually a real town in England!!

9 susan brick July 18, 2009 at 9:52 am

while I agree about how names of streets make us all think twice about the house we buy, especially names that are ones that you will be having to spell out for the rest of life, or house numbers that are too long and are always missing a number…why is the term “politically incorrect” being used for this article????? Term is way over used.
it doesn’t apply…
Town Lake is not Lady Bird Lake
Ceaser Chavez is 1st St.
Stop the renaming of everything in this town and or double naming everything. Enough all ready! Stupid city counsel or whoever it is that is voting on this. Use your time more wisely with our tax dollars.

10 Steve Crossland July 19, 2009 at 12:38 pm

> why is the term “politically incorrect” being used for this article????? Term is way over used.

Are you saying it’s politically incorrect to use the term politically incorrect?

It’s used in this article mainly in reference to the guns related street names, such as gatlin gun, shootout, gun fight. There are people who would consider those “politically incorrect” names.

Steve

11 Ivar Husa February 27, 2014 at 10:28 am

Hard to spell or pronounce names can be tough for getting emergency responders to a location quickly. Moments, perhaps minutes, can be lost as a dispatcher goes back and forth with a frantic caller trying to locate an address on a street with an odd name. (I know from working at a dispatch center.)

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