Forget Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi — there’s a whole universe of fascinating real estate topics to discuss this Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Forget Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi — there’s a whole universe of fascinating real estate topics to discuss this Thanksgiving with friends and family.

It’s that time of year again: the turkey is about to go in the oven (Or deep fryer. Try it, it’s amazing. Just be careful), football games are on television and the relatives are about to arrive. Besides the mashed potatoes, however, it’s pretty likely at least some of those relatives will be bringing their political opinions.

The past 12 months of partisan drama has created fault lines nationwide: Right versus left, rich versus poor, Laurel versus Vanny (remember?) and more will all be on the menu this weekend. So much so that the New York Times has invented a chatbot to help you prepare discussing these contentious subjects.

While it’s important to communicate with loved ones, Inman believes real estate can bring everyone together by discussing topics that stretch across the aisle. Housing is a theme that affects every American, and there are tectonic shifts at play that merit discussion at this year’s dinner table.

Amazon HQ2

After a year of speculation, Amazon will open two new corporate offices in New York and Virginia, after the internet behemoth announced it would pick a new city for a second headquarters location—promising to bring 25,000 jobs with it to each location. It’s sparked controversy over the tax breaks it elicited from the chosen and prospective city councils, as well as an expected uptick in home prices, which is already being felt. A perfect example of unity in today’s acerbic political environment, Amazon’s actions have some major opponents on both ends of the political spectrum.

Most of all, it’s the people who live in these places who end up experiencing the brunt of Amazon’s decision. The influx of half of the 50,000 new Amazon employees has elicited mixed feelings among LIC locals and real estate experts. “We locals don’t want them here,” John Cassella, a Long Island City native and broker at Crest Haven Realty, told Inman earlier this month.

Is it all worth it? Will the overall economic benefits outweigh the impacts on the housing markets? Those might elevate the discourse over the squash.

Housing Affordability

This year saw trends continue making it even harder for average Americans to buy property. According to recent information from real estate data provider Attom Data Solutions, median national home price increased 6 percent year-over-year in 2018, to $250,000 in the third quarter while the average mortgage rate increased 17 percent during the same period. At the root of the problem, wages only grew by 3 percent in the same amount of time.

Another October report found that the high cost of housing has far-reaching effects. Half of all renters are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. And 12 million people are spending more than 50 percent of their income to keep a roof over their heads. But whose fault is it? Trulia says don’t blame baby boomers because they might have less of an impact on prices than you’d think. Are millenials killing the housing market like they have diamonds and chain restaurants? That should give your niece something to chew on.


As a consequence of increasing house prices, the number of people experiencing homelessness is rising as well. This has led to experiments in new types of housing solutions, where some work and some don’t. Major players across different industries have committed funds to the cause, with Zillow promising to give $5 million over the next five years, and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos doing the same with a portion of $2 billion.

In San Francisco, a ballot measure was passed to tax the city’s business which make over $50 million a year to combat homelessness.

Are those the solutions? Are there innovative ways to build new, more affordable housing? Are the various levels of government doing enough?


The tech industry disruption is coming to real estate, and by any measure it’s already here. iBuyers, and how they fit in a crowded real estate industry, are a hot topic for any plugged-in agent. Will big data-powered, millennial-loving companies overturn the entire business or is there room for everyone to profit?

That’s certainly a conversation starter for the right audience.

Climate change

Another issue, which affects everyone (though some less than others) is climate change. Earlier this year, a Harvard study outlined the impact of climate change on house prices: since 2000, properties located in areas that were 0-1 meters above sea level experienced slower and less appreciation than those located at higher elevations. The fires in California have only added to that state’s housing crisis.

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