A Semi-Myth: Rising Tides In Real Estate Values
There are time-worn real estate adages that never seem to go away. “Location, location, location” is one of them, and it still applies. But what about the one used in every “fix-and-flip,” or “fix-and-occupy” program on HGTV about buying the worst home in the best neighborhood?
For all those experts who push buying the most run-down place in the best part of town as a surefire winning investment because the only way its value can go is up, it may be time to take a second look, according to by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries’ book Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate.
The authors took a hard look at the cheapest 10% of homes in a given ZIP code, trying to understand what buyers were getting when they purchased a home priced well below a neighborhood’s median value. If the adage about “rising tides” were true, the bottom 10% of houses would need to perform better than the more expensive homes in their neighborhood. Instead, they found that only rarely does the bottom 10% outperform the top 90% of houses in a ZIP code. On average, these bottom-tier homes do neither better nor worse than the others.
Their findings indicated that there may be less demand for lower-priced homes in nicer neighborhoods simply because, in fancier areas, upscale homes get the most attention. Buying a neighborhood’s worst home, then, is a neutral investment strategy.