You know curb appeal, a Pinterest-worthy remodel, and living in a good school district are all factors that can drive up your home’s value. But, real estate professionals and analysts say there are some wild cards that can also affect how much your home is worth.
Here are eight surprising factors that could be increasing the worth of your home price (or the cost of homes you’re looking at, if you’re in the homebuying market).
Starbucks opens up
“Starbucks has a whole team focusing on studying real estate trends and putting their coffee shops in up-and-coming areas,” says Chicago-based realtor Mike Opyd, owner of RE/MAX NEXT, a real estate brokerage. “I’ve seen it first hand, when a Starbucks goes, there is a good chance the values in the area will rise.” Call it the “Starbucks effect.” Data from the real estate site Zillow backs this up: Between 1997 and 2014, homes within a quarter mile of a Starbucks increased in value by 96 percent, on average, compared with 65 percent for all U.S. homes, according to Zillow’s Home Value Index.
The numbers 6, 8, or 9
Got 6, 8, or 9 in your street address? That could be a good thing when you go to sell, says Deedee Chong, a New York-based real estate marketer and consultant for Money Done Right, a personal finance site. “These numbers are considered extremely auspicious for Chinese buyers,” Chong says. “They are more than willing to pay a premium or go into a bidding war to buy these properties that are believed to bring good fortune in the future,” she says. Specifically, 8 is considered the luckiest digit, and you may see real estate agents taking this opportunity to use them in listing prices, phone numbers, and promotional materials, she says. She points to a home in Bel Air, California with an address of 10888 Chalon Road that sold for $4.175 million, 36 percent more than the average home prices in the area. On the flip side, 4 is considered unlucky.
Farmhouse sinks and craftsman styles
Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame have inspired homeowners to give DIY remodels a try. But for those who are looking for turnkey options, the farmhouse style that became synonymous with Chip and Jo’s brand, fares well in listings. A 2018 report from RealEstate.com, a Zillow group brand, found homes mentioning “coffered ceilings,” “claw foot tubs,” “wainscotting,” or “farmhouse sinks” in their listings sold for 25 percent to 30 percent above expected values. Plus, properties described as “craftsman” outperformed other architectural styles.
Call it the green rush: If you live in an area where recreational marijuana is legal, that could drive your home price up. Clever, a company that pairs home buyers and sellers with real estate agents with lower commission rates, conducted a study on how the legalization of recreational marijuana impacts home values. From 2014 to 2019, cities that legalized retail marijuana dispensaries saw home values increase more than $22,000 more in value than cities where marijuana is illegal. “However, this positive impact on home values did not carry over to cities and states where only medical marijuana is legalized: these areas saw home values increase on pace with cities where marijuana is illegal,” says Luke Babich, the CSO of Clever and a licensed realtor and real estate investor in St. Louis. The states that legalize recreational marijuana see an immediate increase in home values, even before dispensaries open up, he explains.
Homes in ‘gayborhoods’
Zillow analyzed data from the American Community Survey to find which neighborhoods have the highest share of same-sex couple households. As it turns out, homes in gayborhoods are worth more than homes in other neighborhoods, and oftentimes several times more, according to a 2019 study from the real estate company. In San Francisco, for example, homes in the Castro neighborhood have a 31 percent premium. And, in Chicago, Edgewater to Lakeview homes carry a 30 percent premium. “The narrative of gayborhoods as a signal for rapid home value appreciation and gentrification has been around for decades, with Greenwich Village and the Castro long held up as examples,” said Zillow Director of Economic Research Skylar Olsen in a news release. “Today, the story is a little different. While these neighborhoods still foster a sense of community and social acceptance, living within them often comes at premium many may not be able to afford. This has a disproportionate effect on intersectional LGBTQ people — not just gay, but a person of color, transgender, a woman — those who are disadvantaged when it comes to earning potential.”
A smart home
Want to wow buyers? You don’t necessarily need a hefty remodel. “If you simply install an Alexa into the wall and sync up as many pieces of the home as possible, buyers will be amazed,” says licensed real estate broker James McGrath, co-founder of the NYC real estate brokerage Yoreevo. “Lights, window treatments, August Smart Lock, Nest thermostat — if you sell that turnkey smart home, you will certainly get a sizable premium over what you spent.”
Dropping interest rates
When interest rates climb and homebuyers’ budgets tighten, the market reaction is most often a softening of prices, explains Ron Humes, a former realtor and builder, who now works in marketing. “In contrast, when interest rates fall, more buyers have increased budgets and will compete for homes, driving up prices,” he explains.
A blue kitchen
The color blue is viewed as calming, so it’s a common paint color used in bedrooms. But, you may want to go blue in the kitchen, too. According to Zillow’s 2017 Paint Color Analysis, which looked at more than 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country, homes with blue kitchens sold for a $1,809 premium when compared to comparable kitchens that are white.
So, do any of these factors driving up home prices surprise you?
Brittany Anas is a freelance writer who specializes in health, fitness, and travel writing. She also contributes to Men’s Journal, Women’s Health, Trip Savvy, Simplemost, Orbitz, and Eat This, Not That! She spent a decade working at daily newspapers, including The Denver Post and the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, and she is a former federal background investigator. In her free time, Brittany enjoys hiking with her gremlin-pot belly pig mix that the rescue described as a “Boston Terrier” and coaching youth basketball. She also works with domestic abuse survivors, helping them regain financial stability through career coaching. Follower her on Twitter and Instagram.