Home ownership


When did we allow home ownership to become a commodity, instead of a place where we find our grounding, gather strength, find inner peace, privacy and the inner sanctum to enjoy the good fellowship of family and friends?  So much is made of what we paid for our homes, or what we intend to pay. Open House Sundays have become great sport for many of us, as we gauge the market value of a certain listing, or the comparative value of the listing to our own homes.  The focus is often what return we will manage upon resale before we even win the contract or live in the house!

Did you know that upon taking ownership of your home, you receive not just title, but a bundle of legal rights?  

The impetus for purchasing a home today, in addition to occupancy, usually has something to do with tax write offs and return on investment.  But home ownership today also has physical characteristics that take us back in time and that impact the sale:  immobility, indestructibility and uniqueness. These are considerations that make a property attractive to us.

(1) Immobility is obvious the land cannot be geographically changed. The topography may be altered, but the given parcel of land can never be relocated. It is fixed. Today, we refer to this as location. 

(2)  Indestructibility the land holds its value. It is the improvements upon it that determine the rate of appreciation and depreciation over time.  

(3)  Uniqueness Each parcel of land is unique. This uniqueness has contributed to our contemporary property ownership laws, protecting many considerations in the measurable value of ownership.

Our protected rights today are:
(1) Possession. The surveyed purchased property is ours alone; we possess it.

(2) Control. We have control over our property and its appurtenances, so long as we obey the law. 

(3)  Enjoyment. 
Ours is the right to rejoice within the confines of our property, to find satisfaction and pleasure in our ownership so long as we use the property in a legal manner. 

(4)  Exclusion. By purchasing a parcel of land with a home and/or other structures on it, we have the right to restrict access to our property. 

(5)  Disposition. We have the right to dispose of our property and its bundle of rights through sale, legal will, or other means of transference at our discretion.

If you are about to purchase a home, try to take a step back in time. Consider the history of the land you are about to purchase; how it might once have been used, and how you intend to use it.  It is, really, a very romantic notion.

Jeni Upchurch is a Realtor with McEnearney Associates old town, Alexandria office.  She served as Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development for Public Affairs under HUD Secretary and Vice Presidential candidate, Jack F. Kemp