Why The Oft-Maligned Ampersand is the True Symbol of True Love for Homeowners

The quirky ampersand (&) gets much grief as a punctuation mark, with the Associated Press Stylebook noting it should not be used in place of “and” — except when part of a formal company name. One grammar geek (and I say that affectionately because my wife is in fact one) put it this way: “So don’t use ampersands. Impress your teacher some other way. Like with great writing!”

But the ampersand is an important symbol when it comes to home ownership because it’s used in publicly recorded documents to denote joint ownership by a couple. I noticed this first on the house my wife and I own, and in searching through RealtyTrac’s database of 78 million single family homes nationwide we noticed that it is universally used — at least in tax assessor records in America, which basically is the center of the universe so, yes, universally is an appropriate word — in place of “and” to denote joint ownership.

In an effort to take a more data-based approach to love in the housing market, the crack data team at RealtyTrac combed through homeowner names on more than 55 million single family homes in metro areas nationwide to identify those with an ampersand. They did not count any company names with an ampersand because even data geeks (and I say that affectionately because I am in fact one) know that big corporations are not capable of love.

With this data we came up with a list of the markets with the most true love based on the cold, hard data — the highest percentage of ampersands in homeowner names — and of course those with the least love.

RealtyTrac CEO Jamie Moyle often says RealtyTrac wants to take the romance out of buying a home, by which he means we want to give people as much information as we can to help them make a data-based decision about what is probably their biggest financial commitment. But if it’s true that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” then making such a big financial commitment is in fact truly a matter of the heart. And to make that financial commitment together with another person is then much more a sign of true love than flowers or chocolate or dinner or “Some Dumb Little Thing From CVS.”

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