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Homes That Santa Can Visit

For-sale listings reveal that fireplaces are most common in sunny Orange County, CA, but that’s not much help for Santa. He needs chimneys, which are most common in Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Dayton.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
December 17, 2013

It’s time for families to sit together by the fireplace, hang stockings on the mantel, and wait for Santa to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve. (Of course, lots of people, myself included, don’t celebrate Christmas. Last holiday season we mapped where Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists live.) In the spirit of helping house-hunters maximize their chances of a future visit from Santa, we decided to ask a very important question: Where are homes best equipped for Christmas? To find out, we scoured real estate listings on Trulia from January 2011 to June 2013 for mentions of fireplaces and chimneys.

As it turns out, fireplaces aren’t just for homes in cold places. The #1 and #3 metros for fireplaces are in southern California: Orange County and Ventura County. Neighboring Los Angeles comes in at #13 among the 100 largest markets. Three Boston-area metros – Peabody, Middlesex County, and Boston itself — are also among the top 10 for fireplaces: 

Where to Cozy Up and Hang Stockings: Homes with Fireplaces

# U.S. Metro For-sale listings mentioning fireplaces, per 100 listings
1 Orange County, CA

6.7

2 Colorado Springs, CO

6.4

3 Ventura County, CA

6.0

4 Cleveland, OH

5.6

5 Peabody, MA

5.5

6 Fairfield County, CT

5.4

7 Middlesex County, MA

5.2

8 Louisville, KY-IN

5.1

9 St. Louis, MO-IL

5.0

10 Boston, MA

4.9

Nowadays, lots of homes with fireplaces lack chimneys. Fireplaces in newer homes often vent without a chimney or don’t need to vent at all. In fact, the metros with the most fireplaces aren’t the metros with the most chimneys. But chimneys – not just fireplaces — are what Santa needs. Where can he find them? In the Northeast and Midwest. The top metros for chimneys are Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Dayton, but not the fireplace-rich metros of southern California:

Where Santa Can Visit: Homes with Chimneys

# U.S. Metro For-sale listings mentioning chimneys, per 1,000 listings
1 Buffalo, NY

3.9

2 Philadelphia, PA

3.5

3 Dayton, OH

3.4

4 Springfield, MA

2.9

5 Hartford, CT

2.7

6 Rochester, NY

2.5

7 Peabody, MA

2.4

8 Worcester, MA

2.4

9 Allentown, PA-NJ

2.4

10 Richmond, VA

2.0

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Home Luxuries: What’s In, What’s Out

Compared with a year ago, more luxury listings now emphasize windows and fitness amenities. But kitchen features and formal rooms are waning.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
October 31, 2013

Which amenities can luxury homebuyers expect to find in today’s market? For our latest Real Estate Lab report, we combed through two years’ worth of luxury listings to see which words and phrases are trending up and down. We defined luxury listings as homes for sale that are priced at least four times above the median asking price for a given metro area: that means a million-dollar home in Rochester, NY, is a luxury listing, while a million-dollar home in San Francisco is not. We compared luxury homes listed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, with those listed in the previous year, between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.

What’s In: Marble, Windows, and Booze
Looking at all of the words and phrases that appear in luxury listings, we identified twenty phrases that trended upward most strongly in the past year compared with the previous year. Luxury listings are now 78% more likely to mention a marble bath than one year ago, and 30% more likely to mention marble floors. Outdoor space is also on the rise: roof deck and terrace were 63% and 42% more common, respectively, than they were a year ago.

Trulia_Home Luxuries_MarbleBath

Luxury listings were also more likely to mention windows in the past year compared with the previous year. Oversized, floor-to-ceiling, ceiling, and large windows – as well breathtaking and ocean views – all trended upward, which suggests that buyers of luxury homes are increasingly paying for what they see when they look outward.

Home Luxuries: What’s Trending Up

# Phrase Change
1 marble bath

78%

2 roof deck

63%

3 oversized windows

56%

4 storage space

42%

5 terrace

42%

6 floor-to-ceiling windows

39%

7 ceiling windows

37%

8 marble floors

30%

9 wine room

30%

10 gym

28%

11 tennis court

24%

12 private elevator

24%

13 large windows

23%

14 wood burning fireplace

22%

15 outdoor kitchen

22%

16 summer kitchen

20%

17 pond

19%

18 panoramic views

18%

19 ocean views

18%

20 walk-in closets

17%

Finally, more luxury listings mentioned fitness amenities like gyms (up 28%) and tennis courts (up 24%). But residents should remember to use those before they hit another upward-trending luxury amenity: wine rooms (up 30%).

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Buying a Piece of Local History: American Homes Through the Decades Visualization Preview

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Buying a Piece of Local History: American Homes Through the Decades

New homes dominate the market across the Sunbelt and typically cost more – and have more space -- than older homes. But in most markets, you can also find older homes with historical features and distinct architectural styles. In a few metros, like Charleston, SC, and Washington D.C., the oldest homes cost the most.

Would you rather have a newly-built home or a piece of local history? Across America today, you can find homes for sale that were built as long ago as the 19th century or as recently as yesterday. There’s no mistaking a 1920s Dutch colonial, a 1970s A-frame, or a 2000s home tricked out with the latest spa features. To guide you through the decades, we looked at listings on Trulia from the past two years and found descriptive phrases that are most characteristic of homes built in each decade. But just because you want a 19th century Victorian or a 1950s brick rambler doesn’t mean you can find one: each region of the country had its own construction heyday, and the age of homes for sale today in a local market reflect when in history that location had population growth and new home construction. So buckle up … it’s time to take a trip back in the time machine.

The Way Homes Used to Be: Homes Before 1940
San Francisco Victorians, New York pre-war buildings: old homes are part of local history in much of the country. But across the Sunbelt, population growth has been more recent, so truly old homes are rare. This interactive map shows the percent of on-market homes (as of the last week in March 2013) built in each decade in the largest major metros. 

The oldest homes for sale – those built before 1900 – are concentrated in New England and upstate New York. More than 5% of homes currently listed in the Massachusetts metros of Peabody, Boston, Middlesex County, Springfield, and Worcester were built before 1900, along with the upstate New York metros of Syracuse, Albany, and Rochester. Allentown, PA, and Providence, RI, round out the 10 metros with the largest share of old homes for sale.

# Metro Share of on-market homes built before 1900 Share of on-market homes built before 1940
1 Peabody, MA

11.2%

32.3%

2 Boston, MA

9.5%

29.6%

3 Syracuse, NY

8.7%

26.0%

4 Springfield, MA

7.3%

25.7%

5 Middlesex County, MA

6.9%

26.4%

6 Allentown, PA-NJ

6.8%

27.8%

7 Worcester, MA

6.7%

20.9%

8 Albany, NY

6.6%

20.7%

9 Providence, RI-MA

6.6%

22.8%

10 Rochester, NY

6.5%

27.5%

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Real-Estate Listing Words: The Good, Bad, and Hyperlocal

A “magnificent estate” is worth almost 60 “cute little bungalows.” And if you want “mirrored closet doors,” you’ll find them in southern California.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
February 28, 2013

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what’s a word worth? Today, we’re excited to launch Trulia’s Real Estate Lab, which reveals the psychology and strategy of how consumers and professionals approach real estate. In our first Real Estate Lab report, we combed through millions of property listings on for-sale homes to find the words and phrases in the most expensive and least expensive listings, as well as quirky hyperlocal phrases.

How Much Do “Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity” Homes Cost?
Even before you look at their multimillion-dollar price tags, luxury listings are easy to spot.  Below, we’ve identified the 10 phrases associated with the most expensive listings. Some of these phrases are specific home features, such as “paneled library” or “public rooms,” and some are marketing terms, like “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Phrases in the Most Expensive Listings

# Phrase Avg price of listings containing phrase
1 parlor floor $4,935,632
2 formal gardens $4,006,401
3 paneled library $3,740,836
4 magnificent estate $3,646,040
5 Lutron lighting $3,524,588
6 public rooms $3,451,456
7 once-in-a-lifetime opportunity $3,402,801
8 highest level $3,388,751
9 motor court $3,359,954
10 two powder rooms $3,346,560
Phrases appearing in listings with the highest average asking price. Among phrases appearing in at least 100 listings.

At the top of the list, the phrase associated with the most expensive listings is “parlor floor,” which is the main and grandest floor of Manhattan townhouses and other big city mansions. On average, homes calling out this feature are priced at nearly $5 million. The second phrase on this list is “formal gardens”, which appears in listings priced at $4 million, on average. This home feature is one you’d find in more secluded properties, along with a “motor court” – because if you have a multi-million dollar estate, you’ll need someplace for all those fancy cars.

In addition to mentioning specific home features, luxury listings often call out particular brands. For example, Lutron – a lighting brand – shows up in some of the priciest listings; appliance brands like Miele, Viking, and Sub-Zero get lots of mentions in million-dollar-plus homes, too.

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Your Home’s Lucky Number

Marketing psychology, tradition, and superstition can sneak into home prices. Here are the secrets to setting a “lucky” asking price for your home.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
November 8, 2012

What tricks do sellers and their agents use when setting the price of a home? To find out, we looked at the asking prices of homes for sale on Trulia since October 2011, excluding foreclosures, to see whether certain numbers show up in home prices more than others. We found that some numbers are a lot more popular than others, and different lucky numbers turn up in home prices in different regions of country.

Of course, lucky numbers aren’t the only factor sellers and their agents use in setting asking prices. A seller who loves the number 54 isn’t going to price a home at $540,000 if it’s really worth $200,000. But they might work “54” somewhere into the price without straying too much from the home’s expected value, such as pricing at $200,540.

To find patterns, we looked for numbers that appeared anywhere in the asking price, and we paid special attention to the “last non-zero digit” in the price. For instance, in the above example, the last non-zero digit of $200,540 is 4, and the last non-zero digit is 9 in $149,999, $259,900, and $11,900,000.  Nearly all home prices – 96% – end in 0, and the vast majority – 91% – end in 00. The last non-zero digit is the number that “costs” the least to set based on marketing psychology, tradition, or superstition because it won’t change the value of the home as much as digits further up in the price. It turns out that 9 is, by far, the most popular last non-zero digit in asking prices, so let’s start there.

The Power of 9
The number 9 shows up in a lot of everyday prices. A Ronco knife set costs $39.99, the featured product on Trader Joe’s website last week was roasted & mashed sweet potatoes for $2.49, and my 16-gig iPad mini is $329. Why do prices of goods so often end in 9? One theory is that people rarely have exact change when a price ends in 9, and in a traditional retail store the cashier needs to open the register to make change, and therefore can’t cheat the storeowner by pocketing the cash and not recording the sale. Of course, that’s irrelevant in a world of credit cards, debit cards, and online shopping, so another reason prices end in 9 is perception: those Ronco knives sound like a much better deal at $39.99 than at $40 because the price is in the $30 range, rather than in the $40 range.

Do home prices use the same psychology? Absolutely. Even though the vast majority of home prices end in 0, the most common last non-zero digit is 9: more than half – 53% – of home prices have 9 as their last non-zero digit. The next most common is 5, which is a nice halfway point between round numbers. No other digit comes close to 9 and 5.

Your Home's Lucky Number Pie Chart

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