The New Housing Kool-Aid

As they say, /rant on.

While taking a moment to check some online news, I came across a headline banner proclaiming the benefits of purchasing a new home instead of a used one.  This is probably the first headline banner that I’ve clicked in more than a year just because…well, just because I was curious.  The site is a product of some construction advertising LLC and proudly exclaims all of the many reasons that purchasing a new home is sooooo much better than a used home.  For instance, you can relax in it knowing that you’re the first to ever own it; that you can configure the house to your desires instead of configuring your family to meet the floorplan; that it can have the highest quality materials and energy efficiency; that many of these are located in posh developments with attractive amenities (cue picture of mansion with lit pool in front of it).

My thinking and philosophy – and writing – has changed dramatically since I created this site in 2008.  The thrust of real-world education for the kids is that they’re going to live in a world of markedly fewer opportunities than were afforded to most of my generation and that in today’s society, the corporation rules to the detriment of the individual. They will be catered to and feted via advertising with the sole purpose of becoming good consumers charged with the task of spending their money on the latest and greatest gadgetry even if it makes no significant difference to their ultimate well-being (want/need).  The goal of advertising is, indeed, to convince the individual about what their ultimate well-being actually is.

But this kind of banner advertising isn’t accounting for the real world, the world in which we live.  It doesn’t account for the world in which the median American family income has dropped about $5000 since the 2007 recession and the majority of new jobs are part-time without any benefits.  What’s actually driving the banner ad is the actual desperation of the builders as they see ongoing mediocre demand for new housing and the competition that’s coming from the much lower cost stock of existing homes; that industry sees that people are nervous about their world and happy to mix up a potent batch of new Kool-Aid for the public to consume.  Unfortunately, if the median family income has dropped by such an extent, is it in the best interests of your own family to stretch and shoot for that demographic? 

If nothing else, it goes back to a purposeful obfuscation on their part, a deliberate confusion that purchasing this building makes it a home.  This is the ultimate example of the age of self-gratification, that you purchase a ready-made structure home much as you could toss a TV dinner into the oven in the 1950s and call it a family meal.  What you are buying is a structure, a house that will take considerable work and effort on your part to create a home for the family.  A house is built from physical materials, a home is made from the family’s values and habits, it’s practices and love. 

It’s fine to look and dream about what if for the kids and family, but take the images with a grain of salt.  If you want Kool-Aid, go to the grocer instead of the "home"builder.

/rant off.


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