A while back, I bought into the whole Freakonomics phenomenon, sort of enjoyed it and still continue to read their blog. While I don’t always agree with their key points made in their New York Times magazine articles, (like the controversial one about real estate agents) it provokes interesting discussion and always provides a refreshing outlook – which is the whole point.

One of my favorite blogs, The Stalwart, is sick of the freakin’ genre because its being copied and yet there is still not much economics discussion out there that is approachable to the general consumer. Thats a shame. However, I think Freakonomics does serve an important purpose, to expand our way of thinking about economics by kicking conventional wisdom in the posterior.

That being said, there was an interesting post on the Freakonomics Blog:

Do Street Names Matter?

I don’t think they really do, but let me explain…

Street names like Levitt mentions, including “Massacre Lane,” or “Poison Avenue,” or “Stench Street” are rare because it would be unlikely that someone, unless they had a strange sense of humor, would select such names. I am speculating that it probably doesn’t matter, but if it did, its affect would probably be nominal and virtually impossible to prove empirically.

This is a different concept than the prestige names that are touted in real estate marketing. In Manhattan for example, Fifth Avenue is a prestigious address to many and it does infer value, but if it were called Pumpkin Town Lane or Swamp Marsh Avenue when Manhattan was mapped out, would likely have the same cache because the prestige (yuck, I hate that word when tied with location) is in the location, and not in the name alone. In other words, I think the name of the street can be correlated to value, but its an indirect link.

The location element is associated with the name, Fifth Avenue. A big difference. The name selection of a new condo development that implies luxury, is important, but it means nothing if it isn’t associated with a luxury product. Thats cheating. Sometimes we see developers insert the name “penthouse” in front of an ordinary unit but no additional value added was achieved. Its ultimately the combination of the name and the fact the the unit really is a “penthouse” is what makes the name appear to be effective.

Next up in our search: city names and their impact on housing values – so lets look at Intercourse, Pennsylvania and see who is getting, well, screwed…

but I again digress…

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