Amenities That Jack Up Sales Prices

July 1, 2015

Americans will dig deeper in their pockets and shell out more cash to live near top-notch schools and in safer neighborhoods with access to retail and "artificial amenities," according to a new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics. In analyzing 2,000 neighborhoods across the country, researchers found that home buyers are willing to potentially spend thousands of extra dollars for these amenities.

A regional funding increase of $1,000 per student in schools is associated with a $570 annual increase in what people are willing to pay for a home in the neighborhood, though "this number is likely biased from well-funded areas being nicer or having more desirable residents," researchers note. 

However, unsafe neighborhoods will bring in much lower offers from buyers. A 10-point increase in the murder rate — from 10 to 20 deaths per 100,000 residents annually — is associated with an annual drop of $1,000 to $1,600 in what people are willing to pay, according to the study. 

Buyers will also pay more incrementally depending on how many bars and restaurants there are in the neighborhood. Each establishment per 1,000 was found to be worth an annual $170 increase in what people say they're willing to pay for a home. That number may also reflect a desire to live near a variety of stores and entertainment areas, researchers note. 

A neighborhood's size, density, and "artificial amenities" — those that are created by the residents — were also found to be important, even more so than living near a natural environment such as mountains and coastlines, according to the study. 

"Because artificial amenities are largely produced by local residents, they may reflect the desirability of the populations themselves," the authors note. That means residents are willing to pay not only for the neighborhood itself but the access the neighborhood affords them to other people, jobs, and amenities, according to a report on the study by The Atlantic.

East Oahu, Hawaii, is the study's top desirable location, with households willing to sacrifice 25 percent more of their pay than the average American in order to live there. California cities such as Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and Oakland follow closely behind East Oahu, as well as parts of Colorado and Washington State. 

Source: “How Much Are You Willing to Pay to Live in America’s Best Neighborhoods?” The Atlantic CityLab (June 29, 2015)