Monday, October 10, 2022


Houses serve several functions.

One function is the "Utility" function of providing a shelter from the elements and from things that go bump-in-the-night. In much of the United States this can be done with 200 square-feet per person. Some of that area will be used for food preparation and bathing/toileting area. I assume the furnace is outside the finished area.

A second function is related to the house's location and the proximity to amenities and distance from undesirable features like toxic land-fills, things that smell, railroad tracks and gang-dominated neighborhoods.

Another function that buyers see in houses is as an appreciating store-of-value. In fact, they see them as wealth creation machines. They borrow money and buy as large of a house as they think they can afford in the hopes that it will rapidly appreciate and create wealth.

A fourth function of a house is as a marker-of-status. Frankly, would you be eager to have your heart operated on by a doctor who lived in a trailer park? Most people have a fairly consistent persona. We purchase artifacts that are consistent with who we see ourselves as. A doctor might own a late-model Buick, BMW or Lexus and live in Posh-moor. A working-stiff might live in Eaton Rapids and drive an 8-year-old pickup truck.

A fifth function of a house is as a place-holder for a geographically defined community. I grew up in a community anchored by a Catholic church staffed by Franciscan friars. Nearly all of the people who attended that church lived within easy walking distance. Other neighborhoods might be tipped toward recent immigrants or Lettuce-Guacomole-Bacon-Taco yuppies.

A sixth possible function of a house is the productive potential of the property it is on. Silicon Valley was born in the garages and basements of the San Jose valley. Many people have shops or pole-barns where they engage in various types of productive activity. I know of at least two women who spin (yarn) in their homes.

There is no right-or-wrong answer to how you weight the relative importance of the (sometimes) competing functions of a house. 

Our choice are not just extensions of who we are, they form who we are in the future.


  1. That is a nice summation. I will pass that one on to my Realtor and banker friends. ---ken

    1. Thank-you for your kind words.

      I shuffled the list from when you read it. I added distance to amenities as an after-thought but it needed to be second on the list.

      THanks for reading and commenting.

  2. And aside from the castle-chateau all the homes were built for times of relative peace and safety.

    Sad to ponder that, isn't that was "Mostly Peaceful Rioters" are nearby.

    1. Very few people build for security anymore, protection as mentioned above can be against more than just the elements and 4 legged animals.

  3. Correction the 2nd house looks like it could keep Indians away until neighbors rallied. Just remember brick veneer is only fire resistant until the chipboard is cooked.

  4. And NONE of these functions are the business of politicians. Not that ever stopped them from making it their business.


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