Through a series of links, I recently found myself on this website, which offers advice to potential homebuyers on how to choose a neighborhood. I don’t know much about the website, but the suggestions it offers are pretty common.
The website recommends looking at things like schools, crime, property values, etc. The points are valid and potential homeowners should definitely consider them.
But the website also fails to mention anything about some of the major issues surrounding property ownership. Walkability never comes up, nor does street width, zoning law, or density. At one point, the website even suggests potential homebuyers move “a bit farther out of the city.”
The website is consequently pushing a traditional, status quo, and even suburban approach to homeownership. Sustainability isn’t a part of the discussion. Time — in the form of commuting, for example — only barely comes up. And while things like crime and schools are factors, potential homeowners aren’t counseled to look at the underlying infrastructure and architectural issues that shape those factors.
But despite the absence of these points on the website — and in the general discourse on homeownership — they’re important issues to consider. If we want better neighborhoods we have to move beyond the status quo. We have to ask better questions.
Ideally, improvements would come via better informed realtors. Barring that, however, we as community members could simply encourage a more thoughtful discussion. Everyone is unlikely to agree on everything, but the point is merely that the transition to homeownership would benefit from a more critical discussion that seems to be lacking. So let’s get talking.