Give Me Your Name & Number!

ToeJamHill

We talk a lot about factors that affect value, whether it’s a house or a condo, low-end or high-end, and how to mitigate these factors, or spot them in advance.

But sometimes, the factors are complete intangibles, and some of them are downright silly.  Some of them should have absolutely no impact on the value of the house, and yet they do.

Today, let’s look at street names, and street numbers, and how they can add or subtract perceived value from a property.  Although if a house is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it, then “perceived” value could be actual value, no?

ToeJamHill

When I was growing up in Leaside, I always wanted to live on “Fleming Crescent.”

I thought my parents should have made it their life’s quest to find a home for us on the street, and I couldn’t understand why they had no interest in doing so.

We all value street names, and street numbers differently.

But here are a few ways in which I’ve seen street names and numbers in Toronto impact the value of the home:

1) “Half Houses”

This is an odd one for sure.

Have you ever seen something like 112 1/2 Smith Street?

I’m not a city planner, nor can I property explain in any way, shape, or form why a house comes to have a “half” number, or when that happens.

But I have seen this on occasion, and it’s amazing to see what kind of an impact it can have on the sale of a property.

I had a listing last year with a “1/2” address, and the questions and comments that came from people were insane.

I worked the public open house both Saturday and Sunday, which isn’t something I normally do, but I was entirely unprepared for the ludicrous questions for which I was on the receiving end.

“Does the owner of this house own the one next door?”

Sure.  Valid question, to some extent, although we could ask that of anybody in a semi-detached, right?

“So….was this a detached house, that the owners turned into two semi-detached?”

I suppose that’s a fair question.  Sort of.

“Is this like ONE house, where the two owners have some sort of agreement to live in their own half?”

That question wasn’t fair.  It was silly.

And from there, the questions got even crazier.

“Are there any rules or regulations from the City of Toronto that pertain to this house?  Or like any

“Do you know if the owner next door has any rights over this property?  Like, can they tear it down or something?”

Yes.  They can tear it down.  Totally.  With your grandmother inside, begging for somebody to come rescue her.

I always tell new clients, “Please ask whatever questions you may have, and remember that you’re not expected to be an expert in real estate, so there’s not such thing as a stupid question.”

And then, when I hear questions about neighbours tearing down adjacent houses simply because they have a “1/2” in the street number, I realize that there ARE stupid questions out there.

In the end, we sold the house for more than the clients had hoped for, but we only had three offers in a market where I was honestly expecting 6-8, and we got lucky that the highest offer was far higher than the next one.

I have to think that “1/2” played a factor, even if it was a small factor.

I just think there are some people out there that felt it was “weird” or even “different,” and whether consciously or not, they dismissed it.

2) A, B, C

We’ve been seeing more of this lately: 218A Smith Street and 218B Smith Street.

It’s quite common when a developer tears down an existing house, and builds more than one in its place.

They have no choice but to use letters, really.

Think about it: you have 214 Smith Street, then 216 Smith Street, then 218 Smith Street, then 220 Smith Street.

So when you tear down 218 Smith Street, and build TWO houses on that lot, what other options do you have than to use “A” and “B”?

A lot of people out there really don’t care.

But just as with the “1/2” street number, some people discount the property.

Do you know who else discounts the property?

Brad Pitt.

Remember this scene from 1999’s cult-classic, “Fight Club”?

RaymondKHessel

Tyler Durden:
“Raymond K. Hessel. 1320 SE Benning, apartment A.  A small, cramped basement apartment.”

Raymond:
“How’d you know?”

Tyler Durden:
“They give basement apartments letters instead of numbers. Raymond, you’re going to die.”

Brad Pitt can’t be wrong, right?

I mean, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy are right about vaccination, soooo…….ummm……okay, off topic…

But there is this preconception among many that houses that don’t have their own full number, and/or have a letter attached, are somehow lesser properties.

I don’t believe that, and honestly, I could care less if my house had a letter A or a letter B, but sometimes buyers do and think crazy things, and some buyers might discount a house because it’s 218A and not simply 218.

3) Numbers of Cultural Significance

We see a lot of this in downtown Toronto condos, and I’m not just talking about the number thirteen.

The number four is a bad number in Chinese culture as the English “four” is pronounced the same way as the Chinese word for “death.”

As a result, the Chinese avoid the number four at any cost, and since many of Toronto’s downtown condos were, and continue to be, purchased by overseas investors, many condos don’t have a 4th, 14th, 24th, 34th, or 44th floor.

In some sub-divisions in highly Chinese-inhabited areas north of the city, developers left out any 4’s as well.  It might be odd to see street numbers go 218, 220, 222, 226, and so on, but I’d imagine a house with the number 224 might not sell quite as easily.

In cases where the house number does have a four, it’s often ignored by that part of the buyer pool.

By the same token, the Chinese culture is infatuated with the number eight.

The word “eight” sounds the same as the Chinese word for “wealth.”

We see offers all the time with 8’s in them.  If you see a sale reported on MLS at $715,888, you might assume that somebody who believes in the lucky number eight made that offer.  We also see just about every condo in a highly-Chinese area listed with 888 in the number, ie. $428,888, when we’ve grown accustomed to seeing $429,900.

So if you happen to live at 88 Smith Street, your house is potentially worth more to a person of another culture.

I use the numbers 4 and 8 in the Chinese culture as an example, but other nationalities have their own love or hate of numbers.  Wikipedia has a whole page on “Tetraphobia.”  Although most of the examples seem to be in Southeast Asia.

4) Street Number = School District

Just like the examples above, this is not a tangible item.

But I think this one has more merit than just having 111 1/2 in your street number.

What school district a home is in can have a serious impact on the home’s value, and in some areas of the city, a school district can literally change half-way down the block.

I’ve chosen Fulton Street as an example, take a look:

FultonAve

Two years ago, on either Fulton or Browning – I can’t quite recall, a house came up for sale that was just on the outside of prestigious Jackman Avenue Jr. Public School.

It was literally one house over the line.

Most people probably think that a school district is some sort of square or geometric shape, or a certain number of blocks.  But sometimes, it’s literally a line drawn in the sand, and in this case – it was right between two semi-detached houses!

Amazing!

One side of the semi was in Jackman district, and the other side of the semi was in Chester.  All that separated those two families and those two school districts was a brick wall.

5) Weird Street Names

I once did a sarcastic blog video based on interesting Toronto street names.

Let me pull up that video…..

Wow, I really miss that post-Honeymoon brush-cut.  Anyways…

As ridiculous as you may think it is to disregard a potential property because it’s on a street with a certain name, I’ve seen it through my own clients’ inaction.

I once sent a listing to a client on Gooch Avenue in Toronto’s west end, and my client absolutely refused to look at it.  She said, “I would never want to live on Gooch, and I wouldn’t want my kids living on Gooch.”

I was tempted to ask her, “Really, why?” just to see if she’d stoop the toilet-level conversation, but alas, she did not.

Having said that, it might be hard to convince a young 20-something guy to purchase a house or condo on “Virgin Place.”

I haven’t been single in a long time, but I’d imagine in today’s hyper-judgemental society, asking a lady-friend to come back to your swanky pad on “Virgin Place” might not go the way you planned it…

10 Comments

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. bugeyedbrit says:

    And you’d be wrong, thats the point!!

  2. AndrewB says:

    The history behind these streets is pretty interesting.

    http://www.blogto.com/city/2012/02/the_story_behind_toronto_street_names/

    I’ve once heard that north of Bloor is Spa-dee-na and south of Bloor is Spa-dye-na. It’s always interesting hearing people pronounce English street names, etc. For example, Strachan and Gloucester, etc.

    1. Paully says:

      Yeah. Balliol is normally pronounced Bal-oil. Never understood that one. Also never understood why the NFL QB Brett Favre’s last name is pronounced Farve, but that has nothing to do with real estate.

      1. Joe Q. says:

        The streets in that neighbourhood are named after Oxford colleges, but the funny thing is that Balliol in Oxford is pronounced more or less the way it’s written (Bay-lee-ull) whereas here in Toronto we switch some vowels around.

    2. bugeyedbrit says:

      stra-ken and glo- ster, its not hard…..

      1. Jim B says:

        Stra-ken??? Everyone I know pronounces it Strawn.

  3. GinaTO says:

    A house on my street has a 1/2 number, even though it’s fully detached, and the lot size is the same as the properties on either side of it. I don’t quite get how that came about.

  4. Marina says:

    Death and 4 are homonyms in Chinese (nothing to do with the English pronunciation). Same with 8.
    David, these are not intangibles exactly, but have you found fire hydrants and lamp posts affect how people value houses?

    1. Fro Jo says:

      Thanks! I think 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture because it is a homonym for wealth or good fortune.

      1. Fro Jo says:

        …like David says in the post. Sorry, I thought I was being smart & helpful.

TWEETS