Oct 16, 2020

What’s in a Name? Your Home, Maybe

Nicknaming your domicile may increase its value. Uh-huh.

By Ed Goldman
Giving your home an annoyingly cute name supposedly can increase its value, according to a recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ is one of my favorite sources for humor. Among my other faves are the New York Times, the Economist, and warring scientific studies (e.g., we get too much sleep vs. we don’t get enough sleep; coffee’s good for us even though it may not be; fasting’s a great idea except when it isn’t).
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One couple mentioned in the Journal’s home-naming story did a renovation of their modest place and christened it The Maids’ Quarters—because the homes around it were mansions. While obviously ironic, this seems counter-intuitive to me—on a par with slapping a bumper sticker on your 1964 Ford Falcon Futura that says, “My other car’s a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster.” (For non-motorheads, one of these babies can go for $8.3 million. Exactly where one of these would go is beyond me. I certainly wouldn’t leave it idling in a mini-mart parking lot while I ran in to buy a Slurpee® and a bag of Cheetos®.)

One person named a rental property she owns in Cape Cod “Wash Ashore” because that’s what denizens of the area call new arrivals. I guess “Cod’s on My Side” was taken.

It gets zanier. “Jason Milovich, 46, who co-owns Blue Fish Vacation Rentals, a home-rental management company in Union Pier, Michigan, started naming homes four years ago as a branding opportunity,” the Journal reports. “He sends owners a few choices of what their homes will be dubbed on the site. He has recently suggested All Decked Out, Beachy Keen and Just Beachy, while nixing Seas the Day and Seaclusion for rentals on Lake Michigan.”

Wait. He rejects Seas the Day, which I think is the only clever one in the bunch, but pushes Beachy Keen and Just Beachy, ‘eh? I wonder if his customers privately refer to him as Son of the Beach?

What’s In a Home?

My favorite in the article was the real estate agent who dubbed a cottage overlooking a Quogue, New York, cemetery “Final View.” I’m surprised she didn’t reference the cemetery in ads: “You’ll be next door to a very quiet, gated community.” And maybe even tack on, “One that people are dying to get into.”

One man quoted in the article named his 107-year-old home in Galveston, Texas, “Flip Flop Manor”—not because he buys and rapidly resells homes for a living but because it’s a few blocks from the shore. “Having a cute name attracts people,” he said. Imagine the merriment that would have ensued had he actually thought of one.

I must admit I’ve often named homes I owned, but went public with one of them only once when I went to sell it: Goldmanor, a 4,800-square-foot home in an enclave filled with homes of that size (and considerably larger). Even though the pun on my surname seemed almost insultingly apparent, it always surprised me when a visitor—seemingly tickled by the name and wanting to join the fun—called it Goldman Manor. “Oh, I just love that play on words,” one said. Enough to completely miss it, I thought but didn’t say.

The other places I’ve owned included a rental-turned-residence that was swiftly falling apart. I ended up calling it Chez It Isn’t So. I realized that wouldn’t have enticed potential buyers when I sold it so I kept its name a private joke. 

I also named one of my homes El Rancho Goldman because once, and only once, on a Minute Maid® orange juice TV commercial in the 1960s, Bing Crosby called his place El Rancho Crosby. It proved to be a disappointment for first-time guests when they knew the name of my home before they came over. I think they expected to find horse property—maybe even sneak in a pony ride before cocktails—or, possibly, Bing Crosby. 

My likely final dip into this grim vat of home naming will be my current place—meaning my next home will probably be assisted living or one of those gated communities cited above. (This isn’t fatalism on my part; just packing-tape fatigue.) 

While I haven’t given my condo a handle yet, loyal readers may recall that I already refer to my community, Campus Commons, as Cramps ‘r’ Common, owing to my untested theory the average age of the homeowners association is 94.

I’ve thought of calling my home Skip Townhouse. I’ve also considered They All Loft, Bad Habitat, Outta Place, Astro Domicile, Put On Address, and All Abode! 

Maybe I should call one of those witty Realtors. Giving one’s home a cute name can certainly be a beach.
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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).