The new tax law has raised the possibility that homeownership may be losing some of its privileged status in American society, as the benefits of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions shrink. Those changes could dampen how attractive housing looks as an asset. But it would take much more to alter the belief that owning a home in America today means that you effectively own a neighborhood, too.
That notion didn’t make much sense when most Americans lived on farms, where the neighbors were remote and the value of property came primarily from what happened on it. The boom in city living changed both of these things.
“As people are increasingly living in urban areas really close to each other, it starts to be the case that so much of the value of your property is bound up in things that are happening outside of your parcel,” said Lee Fennell, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has written about what she calls the “unbounded” nature of our homes. In denser living, a trash dump or a park next door affects the value of your parcel. So does the access to jobs, the ease of transportation and the amenities nearby.