New (Seasons) Math

PROXIMITY TO URBAN AMENITIES seems to be the drumbeat of today’s highly desirable neighborhoods. But can having a grocery store or cinema within walking distance really raise the value of your home? In theory, yes, according to a 2007 Metro study. Using hedonic modeling (fancy math to measure complex behavior, like home buying), local real estate consultancy firm Johnson Gardner evaluated more than 400 Portland home sales in 2006 and determined that, indeed, some amenities appear to have a statistically significant impact on home price. Top of the list: cinemas, wine bars and shops, and specialty grocers. But appraisers haven’t embraced the new math in their calculations. “There’s no standard adjustment for proximity to New Seasons,” says Mark Hepner, co-owner of Portland Residential Appraisals. “When you talk about the hip neighborhoods, you’re talking about areas that have diverse housing stock. When you try to narrow down your adjustment to a specific item, like a New Seasons, there’s not enough consistency in all the factors to make a fair comparison.”