Saturday, March 19, 2005

Kitchen Remodeling and the Ivory Tower

by Tom Bozzo

In real estate listings, terminology advertising high-end features, particularly kitchen remodels, correlate positively with price. Worthless, or worse, are terms that may be recognized as real estate sales euphemisms, plus the exclamation point, and (interestingly) "great neighborhood." That's from Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution, previewing the forthcoming — and certain to ascend to the top of the reading pile — Freakonomics, by U. of Chicago wunderkind Steven Levitt (and Stephen Dubner).

A good question is why agents still use value-destroying contstructions in their listings. From the South Central Wisconsin MLS:
The Village of Shorewood Hills, a most desirable location! Striking 3 bedroom Erdman designed ranch on a quiet street! Bright open floor plan! Woodburning brick fireplace! Hardwood floors throughout! Skylight in kitchen! Nice size family room in lower level plus a 3/4 bath! Large backyard with a natural outcropping of rocks! Close to Lake Mendota, Shorewood Parks, the Village Pool, University of Wisconsin and shopping. UHP included. All measurements are approximate.
Asking $439,000. Close to railroad tracks.

More surprising, perhaps, is that Prof. Cowen writes that he had to look up the value-enhancing term "Corian." Obviously, he hasn't recently been in the market for a kitchen remodel.

Still life with lots of gray speckled Corian, 3/19/05.

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