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Out with the Old

Out with the Old

How Professional Practices Construct the Desire for New Construction

(p.63) 3 Out with the Old
From Boom To Bubble
Rachel Weber
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the localized practices of professionals in the fields of real estate brokering, appraisal, urban planning, and development finance, which channel global capital into new construction. Drawing on sociological accounts of professional development, historical texts, and ethnographic inquiry, it highlights the “performativity” of property markets, how professionals produce the conditions necessary for capital to release itself from preexisting commitments and move on to more profitable arrangements. These professions influence the demand for specific products, making a market for new construction - partly by denigrating the utility of the inventory that predates it. Their ability to weigh in credibly on questions of value and their use of classificatory schema allow diverse properties to be compared with each other, ranked and prioritized, and, finally, priced and consumed by occupants and investors. Each group reinforces the others' work though repeated transactions and dependence on the other for the successful execution of their contractual commitments. Their practices help co-construct demand for generic, “institutional-grade” new construction in ways that allow the real estate-financial system described in Chapter Two to thrive and reproduce itself.

Keywords:   professionalization, performativity, real estate brokers, urban planning, appraisal

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