Wall Street Journal staffer Stefanos Chen looks into why luxury homes with basements tend to list for less, per square foot, than those without in many markets.

Here's the conceit.

Nationally, the mention of a basement in a luxury-home listing actually correlates with a lower home price, the Trulia analysis found. On average, luxury homes with basements listed for 2.17% less per square foot than similar homes without one, said Trulia housing economist Ralph McLaughlin.

In an era where homeowners generally put a premium on storage space, the reasons basements may actually depress the value of a home relative to comps in its market are somewhat mystifying, but seem to be the case, particularly in California.

One builder said that perhaps the word itself had baggage.

"Call it the lower level," he said.

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