By Anne Stephenson
Having lived in Bloomington since May 1982, I rented until just six months ago. The purchase of my home came about from hard work, many struggles, and the miracle-working of a real estate agent and a loan officer who took on my case as if it were their own.
I rented in Bloomington for 38 years and find home ownership to be quite similar in a number of ways. I still work 40+ hours per week, shop for bargains as much as possible, feel concerned about making ends meet, and try to make my home as much of a comfortable haven as possible. Now, though, I have a deeper sense of place, which makes a huge, intangible difference.
I’ve traded being at the mercy of a property owner’s business decisions and whims for the responsibilities of proper upkeep of the home and lot. But as an owner, I know I’m investing in the Bloomington community and something long-term which could positively affect my neighbors’ as well as my own life. There’s more continuity and peace of mind, which makes me more likely to participate in activities that don’t focus on sheer survival, and which help other community members.
(I’m describing my own experience here; I don’t mean to suggest that renters don’t invest in and contribute to the community. They do, in diverse ways.)
I can say with confidence from the perspective of a long-time renter and new homeowner that helping people buy single family homes is far, far better for individual and community health than throwing emphasis onto rentals. It saddens me to see that public discourse is now including a manufactured conflict between renters’ and homeowners’ interests, perhaps in an effort to deflect the understandable ire and disgust many Bloomington residents feel after the Upzoning debacle.
Emails from HomeLight, a San Francisco-based brokerage company, were sent unsolicited to my Gmail account, the email address listed with the mortgage company I use.
The first two emails from HomeLight arrived on June 22. They sent follow-up emails on June 25, 26, and most recently, a June 27 note with an emphatic subject line “Cash Offer for Your Home.”
I live on the northwest side of town, not far from the stadium; but even though my home is not in a core neighborhood, the domino effect of the recent developer-friendly zoning changes makes all Bloomington properties more attractive for exploitation as rental conversions.
I believe others who are receiving similar communications from brokers and well-funded private equity firms, often put forth by a “shell” representative with a Bloomington address, would join me in saying that the market forces driven by deep-pocketed investors are not a myth and are not insignificant. Because of this Upzoning “experiment,” they will be a major factor in shaping the changes coming to Bloomington.