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CMOS statistical variability: The skeleton in the closet

8/18/2015 8:26:17 PM
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Looking to buy a home? It's better to be on a "Way" than a "Street," pick a female real-estate agent and try to be close to a Starbucks.
That's the advice of Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow.com, who collected statistics from his site's database of 110 million homes to find trends in real-estate pricing. Along with Zillow economist Stan Humphries, he has written "The New Rules of Real Estate" (Grand Central), out Tuesday. Some of his findings:
The Starbucks effect. Take two identical homes sold in 1997. One near Starbucks would have sold for an average of $137,000, while the same home without a Starbucks would have sold for $102,000. Fast-forward 15 years: the average US home appreciated 65 percent to $168,000, but the property next to Starbucks skyrockets 96 percent to $269,000.
All renovations are not created equal. The greatest return for your investment is a mid-range bathroom remodel, a $3,000 job that returns $1.71 for every dollar spent. The worst home improvements for value are kitchen remodeling and finishing a basement. A top-of-the-line kitchen reno will cost you $22,000, and you'll only get about $0.51 back for every $1 you spend.
Use the right words in a listing. Avoid "unique," "TLC," "investment" and "potential" — these could lower sale prices by as much as 7 percent. But words like "luxurious" for bottom-tier homes and "captivating" for top-tier homes could add 8.2 percent to your home's value. Longer, more-detailed listings often sell for more.
"When" is as important as "how much." In New York, the worst time to sell is the second week of December (listings sold for 2.8 percent less than average). The best time is March, when homes sold faster and for 2 percent more.
Seven is an unlucky number. Homes with "777" as their address sell for 2.1 percent less than their estimated value; house numbers that just include 777 (such as 17779 Main St.), sell for 1.8 percent less. Oddly, houses with just 7 as their number sell for 1.8 percent more than the estimated sale price.
Psychological pricing works. Listings with a nine in the thousand digit ($450,000 vs. $449,000) sell anywhere from four days to a full week faster.
Female agents tend to sell homes faster and for higher prices.
What's in a name? A lot of cash, according to Zillow's data. Homes on named streets tend to be 2 percent more valuable ­nationwide than numbered ones (unless you're talking about New York City, where it's a wash). But Main Street homes garner 4 percent less than America's median home value. Street names with Lake or Sunset will sell upwards of 16 percent higher. Suffixes also matter. Avoid "Street," which has the lowest home values of $183,120 nationally, and find a "Way," which has the highest home values averaging around $312,000.


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