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Real estate, rental and human nature

Building on the initial thoughts explored in Living together, this post turns to some modern struggles in the realm of accommodation; specifically, how money and ownership translates into intention and responsibility.

The idea of home ownership and what that means in a practical economic and social sense is quite intriguing: how our expectations have changed over time; ways cultural and financial trends have influenced the market; and how it essentially became this personal portfolio of opportunity. The subtle shifts that have shaped that landscape and the ripple effects into other areas of society must be fascinating to understand.

But to look for now at ways all of that affects individual lives, shared communities, and local environments is the entry-point that interests me most. How does a contract of ownership or rental influence how we view our ‘homes’? If we manage a property as an ‘investment’, how does that inform our concerns around the lived realities of these spaces? How do our values intersect with the economics of our living arrangements?

Broadly speaking, owning a property and therefore viewing it as an asset must equate to a person having a vested interest in maintaining standards, cultivating relationships to some degree, and staying more actively engaged in what’s going on in the surrounding area. The tangible financial gains or losses to the ‘value’ of a home must be more keenly felt and lead to certain patterns of behaviour, concern and engagement.

Inversely, quite different motivations must arise for those letting out an investment or renting one. Managing a rental property must bring with it thoughts around long-wearing interiors, cost to benefit calculations on improvements, and a fairly pragmatic approach to relationships and tenants. And renting itself can be seen as a slightly powerless situation that effectively discourages much investment in whatever terms you quantify it (e.g. care, consideration, community, environment) through the lack of compelling financial incentive.

Stories and anecdotes frequently highlight how investment properties are reshaping communities: second home ownership chipping away at social networks and local businesses; tenancies negatively impacting neighbourhoods through either behaviour or neglect. There must be this whole web of personal and social consequences that are defined by the machinations of the housing market and largely dictated by economic forces.

So it seems valid to look beyond purely political or economic frameworks for assessing housing and consider the human realities being created. It’s something there doesn’t seem a clear answer to, but also something fairly important: local communities and relationships are the essence of our daily lives, with the values displayed through our actions making up our human, social and natural environments (see Notes One).

Given how the motivation to invest in our homes and communities tends to stem from with whether or not it’s in our financial interests to do so, there’s evidently some relationship between money and that sense of engagement or responsibility (Notes Two). So maybe it’s a question of creating a scenario where our financial motivations align better with our more human concerns?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Community – what it was, what we lost
Note 1: Nature tells a story, about society
Note 2: The motivation of money
Note 2: Values and the economic

Also Relating to cultural benchmarks, which spoke of home ownership and what that might mean on a more personal note.

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