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

dead end

Cul-de-Sac Definition

  • The word cul-de-sac literally means bottom of the bag
  • But it’s a good thing when it comes to real estate
  • Because it means you don’t live on a through street
  • And there’s a safer area for kids to play

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

  • Real estate agents will typically make it known
  • That a property is located on a cul-de-sac
  • This might translate to more interest for your property
  • And result in a higher sales price when it comes time to sell

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

  • Be careful not to mix up a dead-end with a cul-de-sac
  • They certainly aren’t the same thing
  • The biggest distinction is that a dead-end street actually ends in a straight line
  • Whereas a cul-de-sac has a nice circular end that allows one to drive around it in one continuous motion

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?


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. I live in a cul-de-sac, on our communal grounds to get in you drive in from the bottom then it comes to a dead end where our homes are, there is a footpath leading to our flats, gates thugs have come in there loitered and threatened us and called our area a public street and are allowed to be there the police said the same.

  5. Dead ends should never be created without a suitable area to turn around. That means it’s poor planning on a city or county department. You can petition the proper authorities to construct an area to turn around on right of way in front of the last houses on left and right. They don’t have to use the person’s property but can utilize the right of way. Make sure “no parking” signs are erected.

  6. The city takes a dead end Street on a unimproved city road makes the land owners property at the end responsible for providing all of the land to make a cul-de-sac that wont work because its 12 feet lower on the western side making it unreasonably expensive. Never builds it, never intended to just a land grab. now I build below it, my original road never required a permit

  7. If you work with the town, a dead end can be a good thing with a paved area for people to turn around. I know, I did it and it has been very successful, Now I have the solitude without the worry of people using me driveway to turn around or getting stuck in the mud in the spring time. And sensor lights discourage parkers

  8. We live on large acreages in the county. There is a sign at the beginning of the road that says dead end. At the end of the road is a turn around. Other people drive to that turn around and park and stay there. Is that legal?

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