Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gardeners not Economists

Adele Horin is a journalist of the Sydney Morning Herald and recently wrote an article on Australians changing relationships with their homes.( Emoh Ruo- An Asset More Than a Haven) Horin writes about the insidious knowledge that your home is a financial asset, rather than, well, a home, and how this knowledge can make you look with distaste on things that you are really very fond of. Those old 50's cupboards in the kitchen suddenly seem small and inconvenient rather than quirky. The horrible thought that if you ripped out the kitchen and replaced it with stainless steel it would have greater resale value slides into your mind.

The obsession with maximizing assets has affected us all in our relationship with the home. Even people who don't own homes dream of having one, not so much as a safe place to live, this is seen as a bonus compared to the financial power of "entering the market". This new idea of homes as an asset has also negatively affected renters as more and more people buy investment properties and renter's precarious existence becomes directly connected to the whims of the "market", interest rates and the rush to renovate and get a great price at auction.

Horin writes "To my parents the family home financed by a cheap war service loan meant security. It turned them into gardeners not economists." I love my home but sometimes I find myself wondering what would happen if we moved our house and sub-divided our land. I hate thinking like this. This is our place of safety. When I've been away I feel like Dorothy in the "Wizard of OZ" waking up to a raggedy little house and saying "OH Aunt Em! There's no place like home."


Florence said...

I wish I had a little house in the hills.


Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

mmmm. I'm such a home slob that this obsession with maximising assets does not affect me too directly. But it is commonplace among some aspirational friends who we now have to avoid as their conversation has become sooo boring and status oriented. who wants to talk about kitchen renovations and property prices where there are so many more interesting things to discuss? if wealthy people would invest their money in sustainable/creative enterprises instead of property (which has to bottom out soon in SEQ- where is the industry to support it?) we'd all be alot happier!! homes should be fun creative and relaxing places for you and your loved ones. not showpieces to make others feel miserable and inferior.