Home Values: What's in a Neighborhood Name?


Want to boost the price on your house? Go country. Commonly held wisdom is that a prestigious-sounding name can add value to a neighborhood or subdivision. Now the research proves it. Buyers are willing to pay a premium of 4.2 percent for a property with "country" in the name and an additional 5.1 percent for the phrase "country club," according to new research.

The researchers from the University of Georgia looked at data from MLS sales reports in Baton Rouge, La., between 1984 and 2005. Like the country club areas, subdivision names tend to include words suggesting a slower, more bucolic lifestyle -- along with exclusivity and prestige.

Some of the industry's favorite buzzwords include "pleasant," "acres," "hills," "estates," "ridge" and "heights." One Denver blogger created a mix-and-match grid for Rocky Mountain neighborhood names. How about a residence at The Manor at Silver Fox Range? In cities, the art of the well-named neighborhood has long been in the dominion of brokers and developers eager to re-cast an area as upwardly mobile. In New York City, the rise of new neighborhood names has been so fast and furious that Brooklyn's Democrat Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries introduced a state bill in April trying to limit the names on micro-neighborhoods.

Try telling that to CitiHabitats. The realty company is creating a buzz for the area around City Hall, which is squeezed between Wall Street and Chinatown, to be renamed as City Hall Park. Its new residential landmark is the New York by Gehry building.

CitiHabitats president Gary Malin says that these kind of nicknames help build growth for the city.

"You create energy and it helps the whole city," he says. "People are curious and they come and check it out. There is a cool factor." Malin disses Jeffries' bill to halt the trend in New York City as "legislating for legislation's sake."

In the race to create a name that sticks, there is a fine line between too-cute and and not-cute-enough. Seattle has undergone its own renaming period in recent years. "Midtown" Seattle was coined to separate the area from other distinct nearby districts such as Belltown, Pike Place Market and South Lake Union. Residents complained in the Seattle PI that the name sounded like New York.

In San Francisco, micro-neighborhoods between more established ones have cropped up over the years, such as "The TenderNob" between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill. More recently, a local movement by a food blogger successfully renamed a micro-'hood between the Mission District and Bernal Heights -- if appearing on Google Maps is a benchmark of success.

It's now known as "La Lengua" in honor of the preponderance of restaurants serving tongue meat.

Catherine New is a reporter with the Huffington Post Media Group.

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