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Prioritizing needs and making concessions — with your family and your community.

By Thomas C. Schultheis
2019 President 
Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS®  

For 11 years now I have been working alongside homebuyers in their search for their dream home in Santa Barbara.   While the path to get there is not always known, the goal is usually crystal clear—to find the perfect property that checks every box on their list of needs and desires.  In truth that is also the goal of most Realtors who represent buyers.   

This goal is generally a tall order, and while most buyers are able to get the majority of what’s important to them, it’s often not without accepting a few concessions. The good news is that often these concessions are temporary. New owners will have the opportunity to make changes and improvements to better suit their needs and preferences. And eventually, as a family grows and shrinks, jobs come and go, and other factors inevitably change their lives, owners will often feel the need to sell and purchase a property that is more suitable for current needs.

The same is true for living as part of a community. As cities develop and grow (as we have seen continually throughout southern California), residents find themselves having to make decisions based on what’s best for the future of that community. However, it seems that when we scale the family-home model to the community level, it gets exponentially harder to make important decisions for the well being of whole, as we find ourselves naturally defending our own interests.  We are also limited in our ability to understand the impact of certain influences that don’t directly or immediately affect us.   

This all becomes more complex when we find ourselves having unrealistic and conflicting priorities.  A perfect example of this is our community’s desire for housing affordability combined with a general anti-growth sentiment. Indeed, one of the consequences of anti-growth regulations is in fact exorbitant prices.  How do we expect to tackle the affordability issue while also stifling the creation of new housing stock?

In order to affect change, we must be willing to make concessions now in other areas that will benefit us all in the long term.  Just as a family home needs to grow and change as a family grows, we need to get comfortable with the fact that cities need to grow and change as the needs of their populations change.

Ideally city and county leadership, as the stewards of our community, understand this concept, and can take an even handed approach in its implementation.  As residents of this wonderful place, we should understand that things change, and not always in our favor. More often than not, the change sounds worse that it is in reality.

Co-existing in an ever-changing community is no easy task, whether it’s in your home with your family or in your community with your fellow residents.   While we have the right to advocate for and attempt to shape our community as we feel is best, we must also remember that we are all here together and, believe it or not, rely on each other for more than we may always realize.  

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