I pass by a house in the neighborhood that’s been on the market for a few months. In spite of the beautiful décor, the house, which is tastefully done in a traditional shabby chic style, was pulled from the local MLS and has not sold.
The Realtor sign remains in the ground in front of the property, causing endless speculation from the other residents in the area. Is it too small? Priced too high? No pool? Have the owners decided just to stay put?
A crew arrives to take away the mystery. It’s the only house on the street in its price range that doesn’t have a fence or a gate, according to the neighbor. In the past few years, most of the other residents in the neighborhood have added a gated feature to their property.
Do we gain privacy or security behind these gates or are the residents trying to send a message that somehow this house is so special it shouldn’t be revealed from the street? Who are we keeping out? Does a potential buyer exclude a property because it doesn’t have the requisite gate?
As it turns out, the answers are yes and yes. As home prices in Los Angeles, and especially the Hollywood Hills, continue to go up, so do the gates. It’s understood. It has become a requirement. It you want to give your home that extra something, you have to block out the world. It used to be that only the very rich and famous folks had gates installed to keep out the curious. Now everyone is doing it. The MLS reflects it. “Gated privacy abounds…” the description reads.
And if you really want to add a little extra touch, you’ll have security cameras mounted on top of those gates. Ones that hook up to your newly networked TV/computer/telephone system that everyone must have these days. The kind that you can “TiVo” in every room as well as see who’s at the front door while you’re checking the local weather on the Internet. And if you really want to blow a few bucks, the cameras can record up to eight days worth of activity for you to view.
“But what about the trick-or-treaters?” I naively ask. “How will anyone know if you’re home and have goodies to give out?”
“Don’t you know?” they respond all-knowingly. “It’s illegal to trick or treat in this neighborhood. They make the kids do it in school or the malls these days.”
I’m new to this section of town but something seems a little weird to me when there’s a sidewalk in front of my house and the doorbell isn’t going to ring on Halloween. Granted, once in a while I turn the lights out to pretend that I’m not home when I don’t feel like answering the door anymore.
But isn’t the idea of this newly re-gentrified area to attract young families? How can we create a sense of community if everyone is going to go through their own security gate that shuts out their neighbors behind them?
I’m guilty as charged on this one. I roll down the window when I see the workman who’s finishing the gate. “Can you give me your card?” I sheepishly ask him when he looks up from the work he’s doing. “I’m getting ready to put up our new gate.”
Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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