The Top 5 “Hidden” Factors That Influence Home Value

by | BiggerPockets.com

When you’re shopping for (or selling) a home, it’s normal to wonder why one home is priced five or six figures higher or lower than another home on the same block. Some factors that influence a home’s value are obvious, but what about the price influencers that are a little less obvious and more difficult to measure?

HouseCanary examined five “hidden” factors that can have an impact on home value:

  1. View angle from backyard
  2. Frontage length
  3. Backyard exposure to neighbors
  4. Privacy score
  5. Backyard slope

We controlled for other value influencers, such as location, lot size, gross living area (square footage), and more, so we could isolate the effect of these hidden factors. And we found that the relative importance of these factors can vary widely according to where the home is located.

Do these 5 factors influence prices in your county or area? View an interactive map to learn more about how they stack up where you’re buying and selling.

The Top 5 “Hidden” Factors That Influence Home Value

1. View Angle From Backyard

The view angle calculates the maximum angle (in degrees) that opens up to scenery or nature from your backyard. The degrees measured are 0 to 180, showing the maximum angle of scenery viewable from your backyard, with 0 indicating that there is no scenic view at all from your backyard, and 180 indicating that the view is scenic from every angle.

Related: Beyond Bathrooms & Kitchens: 7 Upgrades to Boost Property Values & Rents

2. Frontage Length

The frontage length is the length (in feet) of the street-facing side of the home’s lot. It doesn’t always correlate perfectly with lot size because not all lots are square, but it indicates the amount of curb-facing home relative to other homes in the area—and believe it or not, homes with more curb to appeal do tend to have more curb appeal in some parts of the country.

3. Backyard Exposure to Neighbors

Most home buyers in the U.S. not only want a nice view from the backyard, but they also don’t want someone else’s nice view to include their home or yard. The angle of backyard exposure to neighbors is a measurement of how easily neighbors can see into a home and backyard, thus potentially mitigating privacy. It’s also measured in degrees from 0 to 180, with 0 indicating no exposure at all of your backyard or home to neighbors, and 180 indicating total exposure.

4. Privacy Score

How private is a home, and how much will that matter when it comes time to sell? We examined backyard exposure to neighbors, backyard slope, distance to neighbors, home density, and other metrics to determine a privacy score and show how much privacy matters in different parts of the country.

Related: 13 Proactive Ways to Increase Rent & Add Value to Your Rental Property

5. Backyard Slope

Would you prefer your backyard to slope up or slope down? This is a factor that many buyers value, although they might not be able to verbalize it. We found that homes with downhill-sloping backyards tend to be more desirable.

Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that homes with flat yards are neutral or undesirable; flat yards are more desirable than yards that slope uphill. But it does mean that slope matters in a lot of the country, most notably counties in Minnesota and Indiana, both states that contain a mixture of mountains or rolling hills and flat terrain. And the backyard slope trend is more pronounced in Seattle than Los Angeles, which are both hilly metro areas, suggesting that perhaps Seattleites spend more time on their back decks looking at the cityscape than Angelenos do.

Read the full research report on housecanary.com.

Methodology: HouseCanary built regression models to predict value based on view angle, frontage length, backyard exposed angle, privacy score, and backyard slope. In these models, we also controlled for common explainers of value (location, building area, lot size, etc.). We included 1,836 counties for view angle, privacy score, and backyard slope; 1,835 counties for backyard exposed angle; and 1,581 counties for frontage length.

Any other non-obvious factors you’ve seen that impact home values? 

Comment below!

About Author

Alex Villacorta

Alex Villacorta is the EVP of Analytics at HouseCanary, where he works to make real estate data and valuations more accessible to investors, home owners, lenders, and more.

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