What's in a name? Plenty, when you're talking about the byway on which your house is located.
According to Trulia, the popular online real estate community, houses on "boulevards" are the most expensive, selling for 36 percent more than homes located on "streets." Houses with "boulevard" in the address are listed for sale at $117 per square foot, whereas houses with "street" in the address are going for a mere $86 per square foot -- the least of a dozen address designations.
To come up with these enlightening numbers, the Trulia trends team analyzed houses in its own database. Specifically, the team looked at the median price per square foot and limited the results to those address designations with at least 10,000 homes for sale.
Why is "boulevard" the most expensive? Trulia says the word itself might have more to do with it than anything. After all, it does have something of a sophisticated French origin.
Another factor, perhaps, is the mix of housing located on boulevards. Some 37 percent of the boulevard units were in multiunit apartment and condominium buildings, suggesting denser, urban settings where space is at a premium and housing costs are higher. By contrast, no more than 16 percent of the homes on the other paved paths were in multifamily buildings.
"Boulevard" also is an exclusive address. Only 2 percent of the Trulia listings were on pathways called boulevards.
Houses on "streets" accounted for 19 percent of the listings, but "street" wasn't the most prevalent. That honor belongs to "drive," which accounted for 22 percent of the listings. Houses on drives and on avenues were listed at $96 per square foot. "Avenue" houses were 15 percent of the listings, one point below dwellings on "roads," which were selling at $109 per square foot.
Here's the complete breakdown for all 12 address designations:
-- Boulevard, 2 percent of the homes for sale on Trulia and $117 per square foot.
-- Place, 2 percent and $110 a square foot.
-- Road, 16 percent and $109.
-- Way, 3 percent and $107.
-- Terrace, 1 percent and $102.
-- Court, 6 percent and $101.
-- Lane, 8 percent and $101.
-- Circle, 3 percent and $100.
-- Trail, 1 percent and $97.
-- Avenue, 15 percent and $96.
-- Drive, 22 percent and $96.
-- Street, 19 percent and $86.
There's no question that homes have gotten larger, and are still getting larger, even in the face of slower sales and tighter mortgage qualifications. But in something of an anomaly, household energy use is decreasing, according to government statistics.
The reason: energy features built into newer homes. New houses are better insulated, so they use less energy to heat and cool. The appliances are more efficient, and people living in even the biggest of houses tend to be more aware of the environment and energy waste.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, improvements in the efficiency of the building envelope, space heating, air conditioning, refrigerators and other appliances have all led to decreased consumption per household.
For example, multipane windows are now the norm. About eight out of every 10 houses built since 1990 have double- or triple-pane, energy-efficient windows, the energy organization reports. About 44 million households now have Energy Star refrigerators, and 41 million have Energy Star clothes washers.
In addition, about 40 million householders report using caulk or weather stripping to seal cracks and air leaks, 26 million have added insulation, and 68 million have at least some energy-efficient compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode lights.
Even the fact that the typical house contains any number of television sets -- more than 50 million homes have three TV sets or more -- not to mention computers and other electronic devices, hasn't stemmed the decline in energy usage.
Looking for building sites? Lots of lots -- 250,000 or so -- are listed on LotNetwork.com, a website where developers market their land for residential development. But people who are interested in building custom houses rather than buying production models also can use the site to find sites.
Searching is free, by ZIP code, town, state or even a key word, such as "acreage." If you don't find anything you like on the first try, you can sign up for email alerts based on your own criteria so you will be notified immediately when a property becomes available. You can save your favorites and track price changes that might make one more attractive.