Little-Known Factors That Affect Home Values


Location, crime, and neighborhood comps can certainly affect a home’s value. But what are some of the more invisible factors that influence sales prices? HouseCanary, a data analytics real estate platform, analyzed more than 1,500 counties to identify the top five hidden factors that influence home values.

They pinpointed the following:

  • The view angle from the backyard: The maximum angle that opens up to scenery or nature from your backyard (measured from no scenic view at all from your backyard to 180 degrees, indicating that the view is scenic from every angle).
  • Frontage length: The length in feet of the street-facing side of the home’s lot. (Frontage length was tied to an increase in home values.)
  • Backyard exposure to neighbors: The measurement of how easily neighbors can see into a home and backyard. Privacy from neighbors was found to be an asset.
  • Privacy: Researchers factored in backyard slope, distance to neighbors, home density, and other metrics to determine a privacy score. (The more private, the more desirable.)
  • Backyard slope: Researchers measured the slopes of the backyards to determine the influence. Homes with downhill-sloping backyards tend to be more desirable than homes with backyards that slope uphill.

The study found that backyard views count. In counties with homes that had larger view angles, the home values tended to be higher—“showing that buyers in those areas put a premium value on their backyard views,” according to the study.

Homes with frontage length saw a boost in home value in nearly 80 percent of the counties analyzed, according to the study. “Counties in the South tend to place higher relative importance on frontage length,” Alex Villacorta, HouseCanary’s EVP of Analytics, writes in the study’s findings. “Frontage length is going to be a bigger driver of home value in Charlotte, S.C., or Athens, Ga., than it is in Salt Lake City or in San Francisco.”

Many buyers also don’t want to have a view into their neighbor’s yard, the study found. Researchers found that lack of backyard privacy from neighbors was a negative factor in the overall majority of counties analyzed. “The more backyard that was exposed to neighbors, the lower the home’s value,” Villacorta summed up. “This was especially clear in the Northeast, which seems to place more importance on limiting backyard exposure than other parts of the country—in Rochester, N.Y., or Boston, homes with less backyard exposure were more highly valued, and in some parts of the country, like Buffalo, Wyoming, and just south of Spokane, Washington, homes with more backyard exposure to neighbors actually [had] higher values.”

Privacy tended to be an important factor in home values. In 1,089 of the 1,836 counties analyzed, homes with higher privacy scores also had higher values.

The slope of the backyard also matters. In 640 of 1,836 counties analyzed, researchers found a negative relationship between home value and backyard slope. Homes with backyards that slope uphill tended to have lower values than homes with backyards that slope downhill from the primary residence on the property. Homes with downhill-sloping backyards tended to be more desirable, the study found, and flat yards were also found to be more desirable than uphill yards.

Source: “Top 5 ‘Hidden’ Factors That Influence Home Value,” HouseCanary (March 21, 2018)