Greek Life Property Value: Fraternities and Sororities with the Largest and Most Valuable Properties
By Tema Flanagan
Gamma Phi Beta sorority house on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene
First erected in 1931, the 25,000-square-foot brick home was built in the English Tudor style, complete with a series of ivy-enshrouded arches and a blood-red front door. It sits, expansive and imposing, at the end of a long walkway lined with stone that bursts into color each spring when the tulips bloom.
Despite its remarkable size and stately bearings, this isn’t a celebrity’s mega mansion or the manor of an English royal. Instead, this palatial estate is home to the Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers at the University of Arkansas. Like many students who participate in Greek life and also live in fraternity or sorority housing, the men of Kappa Sigma certainly enjoy nicer digs than the average undergraduate.
With more than 6,100 Greek chapters on 800 US college campuses, nearly 10% of male students and more than 12% of female students participated in fraternity and sorority organizations, respectively, in 2015. College students join Greek organizations for a number of reasons, from the social opportunities to the lifestyle, but it’s probably safe to say that the unique housing—which often boasts interior design frills and amenities not typically associated with the under-thirty set—is part of the appeal.
To learn more about the housing and lifestyle enjoyed by students in these social chapters, we researched more than 1,300 fraternity and sorority properties that are home to active Greek organizations on 50 college campuses—from those steeped in tradition as old as the schools themselves to newly built houses and the land they sit on are worth millions of dollars today.
The digs of Greek life
With ornate entrances, luxe interior design, and hotel-worthy amenities (think movie theaters and workout rooms), the poshest fraternity and sorority houses are a sight to behold—let alone live in. Sorority houses, especially, are often quite beautiful, with some looking (and feeling) like little mansions among a world of standard-issue dorms and apartments.
Regardless of the particulars, Panhellenic properties tend to be expansive, averaging just under 30,000 square feet in size. At more than three times the size of the average single-family lot in the US, the houses that sit on these properties have enough room to house dozens of fraternity and sorority members with space to spare for multiple activities and special events.
Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
Not surprisingly, these mega properties carry mega price tags, with an average valuation of more than a million dollars. While fraternity properties are, on average, slightly larger, sorority properties clock a higher average valuation than their fraternity counterparts. The average property value for sororities was $1.22 million, while men’s organizations pulled in a $1.05 million valuation.
Like many of the organizations themselves, Greek housing is rooted firmly in the past. In our assessment, the average Greek life house is between 67 and 70 years old, meaning that more than a few generations of pledges have passed through their doors.
Let’s take a break for a minute from our analysis to talk about something else: home warranties (and please keep reading as this is how we get paid and what allows us to write more exciting articles like this one. A home warranty can save you thousands on your home, provided you choose one of the best home warranty companies. Be sure to also check out our specific systems or appliances guides such as roof home warranty or septic home warranty in case that’s what you’re looking for. Now let’s get back to the party.
The value of fraternity and sorority properties
Of course, like the many schools they’re associated with, the value of sorority and fraternity properties vary widely depending on the organization and—perhaps even more importantly—the location.
Among sororities, Alpha Gamma Delta came out on top for having the most expensive properties by organization. Founded in 1904 at Syracuse University, the average Alpha Gamma Delta property is worth $1.74 million based on our study.
Meanwhile, Chi Psi fraternity properties ranked as the most property-rich for men. Even older than Alpha Gamma Delta, Chi Psi was founded in 1841 at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Properties in this 177-year-old order are worth an average of $1.64 million each, according to our research.
While other organizations, like Alpha Omicron Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, have digs averaging $1.55 million for their pledges and members, a look at the numbers reveals that a Greek house’s location may make a bigger overall difference in value than the organization to which it belongs. Our research showed that the average valuation of the most expensive Greek property by university was $1.72 million higher than the average valuation of the most expensive housing by organization—meaning that it pays to be in the right place, regardless of the club.
For example, fraternity housing at Vanderbilt University averaged values of $3.09 million, and women’s clubs at the University of Colorado Boulder were worth even more—$3.46 million.
Greek life organization with the largest properties
The fraternity and sorority properties we studied were gracious in size, to say the least. While the average fraternity and sorority lot was nearly 30,000 square feet—more than three times the size of the average single-family property—some Panhellenic clubs go above and beyond. That is especially true of fraternities, which tend to have larger land areas than their female counterparts.
With houses averaging over 58,000 square feet each, Delta Tau Delta fraternity members enjoy some of the biggest Greek life properties across the country. To put this in perspective, consider that a football field (including the end zones) comes out to 57,600 square feet.
As with values, location had a big impact on the average size of Greek property, with some universities sporting Greek houses of whopping average proportions. Texas A&M University was the real standout, with fraternity properties averaging 208,276 square feet.
Greek life organizations with the oldest houses
Greek life in the US is as old as the country itself (the first-ever collegiate fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, was established in 1776, the same year as the US). Likewise, many Greek houses date back a hundred years or more.
With houses dating, on average, to 1921, the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority ranked as the most historic when it comes to living quarters. Up next were Theta Delta Chi (1924), Theta Xi (1929), and Psi Upsilon (1929), whose historic houses might be able to command their own lessons in history.
Some schools we researched boasted especially historic Greek life housing. Fraternity and sorority houses at the Universities of Vermont and Virginia are around 120 years old, on average—no big surprise considering that the universities themselves have founding dates of 1791 and 1819, respectively.
In addition, the Greek houses at certain schools (including the sorority homes at the Universities of Pennsylvania and West Virginia University and the fraternity homes at the University of Michigan) have, on average, achieved centenarian status.
Impact of organization age on property value
When it comes to what property is worth, you already know that size and location aren’t the only things that matter. When it comes to Greek life, though, it’s not just the usual amenities that count. Our study indicates that the founding years of Greek organizations has an impact on property values.
Fraternities with mid-19th century founding years have the highest housing valuations. For example, the houses of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Kappa Psi, and Sigma Chi—fraternities founded between the 1850s and 1860s—have an average valuation between $1.4 million and $1.5 million today. Those inflated prices may have to do with architectural trends. Fraternity houses built around this period featured neoclassical architecturetypically punctuated with Greek revival touches—perfect for Greek life then and now.
For sororities, somewhat younger organizations (like Alpha Gamma Delta, founded in 1904) pulled in the highest property valuations. Meanwhile, the oldest sororities, Phi Mu and Alpha Delta Pi, had average market values over half a million dollars less than Alpha Gamma Delta.
Organization size vs. property value
With millions of current members and alumni all around the US and the world, we wondered whether the relative popularity of Greek clubs (as measured by the number of active chapters) had any effect on property value.
Among fraternities, having the largest number of active chapters didn’t immediately inflate property values—but it didn’t hurt either. Sigma Alpha Epsilon had an average of 239 active chapters, and houses owned by the organization were worth over $1.5 million each, according to our research. Still, fraternities like Theta Xi had a fraction of the active chapters reported by some bigger organizations, and their houses were still worth more than the average of $1.05 million: nearly $1.3 million.
We found similar trends among the sororities we researched. While Alpha Gamma Delta and Delta Phi Epsilon had nearly the same number of active chapters (112 and 105, respectively), the values of their residences were on completely different ends of the spectrum. Alpha Gamma Delta had among the most expensive houses on the market, averaging over $1.7 million, while Delta Phi Epsilon pulled up the rear at less than $672,000 on average.
We chose 50 colleges in the United States with active Greek life, Greek houses (not halls or dorms), and properties that had available public appraisal data. We then researched the property value, square footage of the lot, and year built for each school’s fraternity and sorority properties.
Property information was found through county property appraisal sites, university Greek life sites, national and local chapter sites, the National Register of Historic Places, PropertyShark, RealtyTrac, Homefacts.com, Movoto, Realtor.com, Redfin, Spokeo, Trulia, and Zillow. More than 1,300 sorority and fraternity houses were included. A university, sorority, or fraternity had to have at least four houses to be included. Only fraternities with at least 10 houses were included in the last two assets. This project is for entertainment purposes only.
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