Millennial Housing Developers
sustainable zero-sum bee-hives
Bad for the Hive is Good for the Bees
Marcus Aurelius wrote “That which is not good for the bee-hive, cannot be good for the bees.” In modern society, we ignored that philosophy and tried ‘greed is good’ instead. We’re going to show how zero-sum behavior, especially as it relates to housing, can actually improve society.
One example we’ve seen play out is the 2008 recession: a whole bunch of people lose their houses, and they lose big. We justify it saying the losers weren’t smart enough or capable enough to avoid it. We say they over-extended themselves, they believed their house would be a great investment. Hell, even the “financial experts” agreed that we need to be investing in homes, and the mortgage interest deduction helped incentivize larger houses. But I think we know what really happened, a group of ‘leaders in society’ convinced the rest of the hive that zero-sum games, which by chance also happen to benefit said leaders, are sustainable for the whole bee-hive. Is that really the bullshit we want to leave as our impact on history?
Most Housing Developers are Millennials
Of course they’re not. Instead of building, millennials are still paying off the student loans they were told will give them a steady, comfortable career. They’re also paying ever-increasing rents while trying to save up to buy a condo/house. Why are they trying to buy a condo/house? Because not only were they raised to believe they need a degree to get a career, but needed to buy property in order to retire. Sound familiar?
Yet somehow we let ourselves believe that established property developers know what Millennials want in their housing. Do they really understand? Probably not, but they know to market the shit out of the ‘idea’ of community and the ‘idea’ of success in order to get the rents they need for their proforma. When some established developers create solutions, they’re doing it through their own filter of success. But do they really care about improving the lives of their tenants, or improving the hive? Does that even matter?
Millennials want Tiny Homes!
Not really, but they like parts of the idea. Why do millennials like the idea of a tiny home? It’s affordable! But affordability is only one small part of it, it’s also something they can actually own and not have to pay ever-increasing rents ‘just because the demand is high’. They care less about huge rooms to put all the crap they can’t afford, instead they want to put resources towards enjoying life, making shit happen, and proving it on Instagram.
Unfortunately because tiny homes are often on trailers, they can only be placed in low-density areas. As humans, we love living around life, and that requires density. Regrettably, tiny homes just aren’t going to be viable in a cool neighborhood. So millennials instead are just trying to find something nice enough that’s affordable and attainable. So if they don’t actually want tiny houses, what do they really want? Millennial Housing.
Millennial Housing & Avocado Toast
We know millennials don’t just settle for the status quo. It’s not because they’re entitled, but because they know there should be better options out there. Better options that are a better fit for the lives they want to experience, not just the ones they’ve been told to follow.
So what does it look like to take a millennial’s internet-honed research skills and apply it to housing? It’s as simple as wanting the best out of all options. From the category of home ownership, a millennial would want the ability to build equity and to limit costs from rising much each year. From the renting category, it would be not worrying about maintenance, not needing a long term commitment, not risk losing the entire property to the bank if there’s a huge downturn.
In practice, what could a new kind of millennial housing look like? It could look like a bunch of renters, who in exchange for paying rent on time, attending their community meetings, and not trashing their asset, receive a portion of equity. Their equity gain each month is not just in one property, but fractionally across an entire portfolio of apartment buildings, which helps limit risk from a random disaster. This is similar to avoiding the risk of investing in just one stock by investing in a mutual fund instead.
It could look like a college student who is building equity from their one bedroom in a four bedroom apartment. Then in their initial career they’re building equity from their city apartment with another roommate. Later in life they’re building equity in their surban townhouse with good school districts, and all the way from their empty-nester active community. It’s the way community should be, one with optionality and vibrancy. By structuring ownership with positive behavior and profitability, it’s one that looks after the hive, not just a few.
You said zero-sum behavior improves society
Our introduction said we were going to show how zero-sum behavior improves society. Now we don’t think zero-sum behavior is good in its own right, nor are we going to put up with that kind of behavior now or in the future.
But zero-sum behavior is helpful in the way that it mobilizes people to fight back. If it weren’t for the greed is good mindset, there might not have been enough people looking to change the way we look at society, or enough people to take on Rent + Equity. So while it’s unfortunate in so many ways, the behavior exposes itself in the market.
Our Market Research
I know what you’re thinking: “Where’s the data to prove all this?” Frankly, we’re not going to ‘prove it’ with large figures & pretty graphs. We see it’s an issue because we experience it daily. Instead we’re just going to prove it through market share. We know the best way to learn something is to try it and improve over time. Research only goes so far.
Luckily, thanks to modern society, the fastest way to get the right answer is to say something wrong online. So if you want to do the research, then go for it and please correct us and then tell the rest of the world. Whether it supports or discourages, we’ll still be paying attention.