If there's one investment that always seems to pay off, it's real estate. Sure, it's not as rapid or mind-blowing of an increase as some overnight cryptocurrency millionaires have experienced, but if you have the ability to buy and sell real estate, then you're in a pretty good position to make some money.
And folks know this, which is one of the reasons why shows like HGTV's Good Bones pull in so many viewers. The program features the mother-daughter duo of Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, who find fixer-upper houses, dump their resources into renovating them, and then flip said houses for a profit.
The show is immensely popular, and while there are fans who love it, there are also a number of folks who have accused Good Bones and other HGTV programs of "gentrification."
Mina has even spoken about the topic of gentrification while discussing 'Good Bones.'
In an interview with Indianapolis Monthly, Mina was posed the following question: "Are you contributing to gentrification by selling your renovated homes for $400,000?"
If you aren't familiar with gentrification, Lexico defines it as thus: "The process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process."
Much has been said about the topic, and there are probably areas near you that you've seen completely transform in a matter of a few years. Take Edgewater, N.J., for example: Longtime northern N.J. residents may remember the town as being a heavily industrialized area known for its view of trash barges across the Hudson.
Now, it's one of the wealthier and exclusive pieces of New Jersey real estate to live in. Heck, Cardi B has a house there, and it doesn't hurt that the place has one of the fanciest frozen yogurt places I've personally ever visited.
Mina, when asked by the outlet if she was contributing to gentrification, didn't mince words.
"We’re definitely not doing it single-handedly. There are plenty of other investors," she said. Mina also offered up her own thoughts on ensuring that longtime residents of an area get to stay in an area, suggesting there be a ceiling of sorts for property taxes.
"The biggest issue I’d like to see changed is a family that has owned the house for generations and is on a fixed income, like Social Security. That slight raise in property taxes is something they can’t handle. Can we legislate some change? Cap property taxes for them?" she said.
The United States has oft been criticized for having the lowest rate of return for its ever-increasing cost of property taxes.
In many parts of the country, homeowners are forced to secure a second source of income just to keep paying taxes on their house, even if they already own it.
Tons of thought-pieces have been published on the glorification of gentrification in many HGTV shows, including Good Bones, like this one article published on Spirit Blog.
The piece states, "The whole idea is gentrification although they never say the word. They are focusing on a few neighborhoods in the city. They use a lot of code words. The neighborhoods are 'up and coming' or 'transitional.' People are just 'finding out about the area.' Let me translate. These are low-income, predominately black neighborhoods that didn’t have a lot of investment where white people can swoop in and buy investment properties."
In a free market society, stopping any corporation or individual with tons of money from buying up properties and developing them is going to be pretty difficult. Just look at what's going on in Vancouver; in 2015 a third of the city's real estate came under ownership of foreign corporations.