Cul-de-Sac vs. Dead-End Street: From a Real Estate Perspective

April 25, 2012 4 Comments »
Cul-de-Sac vs. Dead-End Street: From a Real Estate Perspective

Cul-de-Sac Definition

Even if you’ve never shopped for real estate, you’ve undoubtedly heard both the term “cul-de-sac” and “dead end.” And you’ve likely driven on both types of roads.

Often times they are used interchangeably, but they are really two different things, regardless of what your very interested (and biased) real estate agent tells you.

Let’s start by defining “cul-de-sac,” which in French literally means “bottom of the bag.”

This expression can translate to “dead end” as well, since the bottom of the bag is also the end of the bag.

Put another way, a dead-end is a street with no outlet, meaning there’s only one way in and one way out.

The distinction with a cul-de-sac is that it has a circular end, meaning you can turn your car around in one seamless action, instead of having to pull an Austin Powers 40-point turn to get out of there.

Bringing it all together, a cul-de-sac is a dead end street, but not all dead-end streets are cul-de-sacs. Make sense?

Cul-de-Sac Is a Real Estate Plus

If you have been looking for a new house lately, you may have seen the phrase “cul-de-sac” used to highlight a home’s value.

But why? Well, as mentioned, a cul-de-sac is a circular dead-end street, so it’s not a through street.

At first glance, this may sound like a negative. You’re trapped. But wait. That also means everyone and their mother won’t use your street as a shortcut on their daily commute each morning. That’s certainly a relief!

It also means your street will be that much more quiet and peaceful. And your children should have a safer place to play, without having to constantly yell “car,” followed by, “game on!”

So this is essentially why a cul-de-sac can bring value to a home that resides on one.

Dead-End Streets Can Be a Dead End

Conversely, a dead-end street may hurt a home’s value. Why? Well, dead-end streets that aren’t cul-de-sacs abruptly end.

In other words, the end of the street usually has a wall blocking it off from other areas of the neighborhood, and there’s usually a big yellow sign that tells you it’s the end of the line.

Doesn’t really give you that warm and fuzzy friendly neighborhood vibe, does it?

Aside from this being visually unattractive, it also means there is a lot less surface area on the street. So if you get to the end of a dead-end street, it will be very difficult to turn around.

Parking at the end of the street will also be very tricky, not to mention limited.

So a pure dead-end street can be both an eyesore and a pain in the rear, which could equate to a lower house value.

It’s not the end of the world, but you may feel a little claustrophobic and cramped.

If you don’t believe me, drive down both a cul-de-sac and a dead-end and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You can actually feel the difference.

Read more: Redfin vs. Zillow vs. Trulia: Which is Better?

4 Comments

  1. Roseanne August 3, 2016 at 7:44 am -

    Interesting, I just thought cul de sac was a snooty way of saying dead end street.

  2. Mr. Real Estate August 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm -

    It can be if it’s not truly a cul de sac and just being referred to as one…by the owner or another interested party.

  3. Christine December 11, 2016 at 1:43 am -

    We live on a dead-end street and it’s definitely not a cul-de-sac. I don’t like it at all and when people come down our street it takes them forever to turn around. That’s the difference!

  4. Jeanne February 13, 2017 at 4:58 am -

    We have been living on a cul-de-sac for the past 20 years and love it.

    While we sometimes get lost cars, the end of our street is wide and roomy enough for them to circle and return to the main street since our end isn’t clearly visible from the entrance, and our street is only designated as Place.

    A few days ago, we noticed that the county had added the bright bilious yellow and black “DEAD END” sign to our street sign making it clear to the entire passing world that we are an open target…

    In their infinite wisdom they also REMOVED all the nearby signs that referred to the local grammar school, caution, and speed limits.

    I cannot imagine who is making these unilateral decisions in our county, but right now they are potentially deadly.

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