A stone’s throw from where The Value Perspective spends its days tirelessly hunting down market inefficiencies lies Gutter Lane. This was once the home of accountancy firm Cooper Brothers and, as city folklore has it, the address represented a small sticking point ahead of the 1957 merger with its US counterpart Lybrand, Ross Bros & Montgomery that would create the shiny new Coopers & Lybrand.
Apparently the Americans were unhappy with such a downmarket name – not to mention the proximity to Cheapside – and so Cooper Brothers is said to have suggested to the City corporation that perhaps something like ‘Cooper Lane’ might be more suitable. The reply came back that harmony between accountants and location could equally be achieved by changing the firm’s name to ‘Gutter Brothers’.
More than 50 years later, attitudes towards questionable-sounding addresses do not appear to have changed a great deal. A recent survey suggests homes on streets that, thanks to this country’s rich history and linguistic heritage, happen to rejoice in what are now considered rude-sounding names, can sell at substantial discounts to identical properties just around the corner.
Now, since The Value Perspective is a site all the family can enjoy – always assuming you have children with a keen interest in value investment – we will refrain from highlighting any particular addresses. Should you wish further details, you can read the original survey while The Guardian article that brought it to our attention helpfully comes up with a whole host of new material.
Back in an innuendo-free world – well, almost – we would draw your attention to our article Where do I get lucky? which highlights the importance of picking one’s battlegrounds, so to speak, as carefully as one’s battles. The Value Perspective is always hunting for mispriced businesses in areas of the market made inefficient by the irrational behaviour – at base, the fear or greed – of other investors.
We illustrated our point with Michael Mauboussin’s anecdote about a successful US chief executive who spent his youth trying to become a better poker player – working hard to learn the odds of any possible hand, how to spot giveaway ‘tells’ in other players and so forth – before an uncle told him: “I wouldn’t spend my time getting better. I’d spend my time finding weak games.”
Mauboussin uses this story to illustrate how there are two aspects to successful investing. “The first is skill, which requires you to be technically proficient,” he writes. “The second aspect is the game in which you choose to compete.” In the context of buying a house, one might reasonably replace that last phrase with “the road in which you choose to buy”.
With property prices as expensive as the table below shows them to be, prospective house-hunters will presumably be looking for any advantage they can find – to track down, as one should with any kind of investment, areas of the market where they may be inefficiencies. It is in that spirit that The Value Perspective points you towards an unlikely investment textbook the 100 rudest place names in Britain. For added value, you might want to click on the ‘used’ rather than ‘new’ option.
Source: As at January 2014.