Friday Flash: The Church of Homeownership

I belong to the Church of Homeownership. I believe in it.

What follows is a true story I heard this week that’s something of a homeownership parable.

15 years ago, a single woman takes ownership of a house built by Habitat for Humanity in one of the poorest and most violent communities in America

She makes it her home. She thrives. She secures a job that becomes a career, saves, and now, improbably, finds herself in a position to retire.

She’s moving to the country and puts her home up for sale.

Within a week, the woman has five offers in hand. They are all well over asking price. The community is still wracked by crime and hopelessness, but inventory is scarce and previously “untouchable” neighborhoods are the new yuppie frontier.

One offer is far higher than the rest – nearly $50,000 higher. This is a lot of money to the woman.

But the offer is from an institutional investor. Should she accept this offer, the property would become somebody’s rental.

It would be a house, not a home.

Then she does something that makes no sense. She accepts the lowest offer. It’s from a family, and the offer reflects the striving, stretching scariness ordinary people trying to attain homeownership feel these days.

She pays it forward. The house gets to be a home, working its indescribable force of empowerment and self-determination into new people who someday themselves may retire to the country.

May the cycle continue.

Speaking of homeownership, this piece from the New York Times Magazine is one of the most reasoned and well-researched things I’ve read all year:

How homeownership became the engine of American inequality

The headline is misleading. The story is about how the mortgage interest deduction, and housing policy, has created inequality – not homeownership itself.

I’ve always been a party-line “MID is untouchable” type of person, but if we as an industry really believe in homeownership as a desirable end, then maybe a less absolutist stance is in order.

Zillow (re) launched RealEstate.com a couple weeks back.

It’s got some cool stuff, like an “all-in” pricing estimate that accounts for taxes, utilities, etc.

There’s been lots of speculating in the industry about what this means, and some amount of agita among those in whom Zillow produces a special pique.

But it’s not a big deal. The realestate.com domain was like change found between Zillow’s couch cushions, a tidbit picked up in the Trulia acquisition that has been spun into an investor and media story about Zillow’s “new brand for Millennials.”

Smart, but not significant in my opinion.

Speaking of things that aren’t important, a new post from “Ad Contrarian” Bob Hoffman pretty much closes the book on the Pokemon Go thing, at least for me.

He begins…

If you’ve ever doubted that most marketers are clueless, fad-jumping nitwits who drool at any shiny object, I have two words for you — Pokémon Go.

Read the whole thing here.

Enjoy the weekend.

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