Buying a home is a bit like getting married. Great hopes, commitment anxiety, giddy first year, and then dealing with the multiple complications that invariably arise in a long-term relationship. You have to accept upside and downside risks (“for richer, for poorer”), suppress possible regrets (“an even better house just came on the market”), and deal with neighborhood effects whose scope is not easily anticipated. Yet both marriage and homeownership are desired and persistent institutions, celebrated for their contributions to social stability as well as to personal satisfaction. Although both have evolved to meet new social circumstances, it is clear that rapid alterations in these institutions are not easily accepted and may have unanticipated collateral effects.

This analogy can be taken just so far. Dissolving a marriage is certainly more fraught than selling a home. The utility of the analogy arises from the many modern proposals (sorry) to amend and extend both institutions. Lee Anne Fennell’s The Unbounded Home: Property Values beyond Property Lines is at the leading edge of a scholarly conversation about the nature of homeownership. She unpacks a formidable range of scholarship in a reader-friendly narrative style.