One way to look at your community is through the lens of an appraiser, someone who estimates value. For anything to have value it must contain all of the following characteristics of value:
Demand is the need or desire for possession or ownership. It assumes that there is the financial wherewithal to purchase the item. What is the demand for your community? Who wants to live there? Who can afford to live there? The demand for your community has a lot to do with the jobs available there. Indeed, the primary determinant of where one lives is where one works, hence the effort at creating jobs in a community. Many communities do not realize their potential because they limit their marketing. Successful communities know how to market their value to the rest of the world, or at least to a wider market. One trend in this area is that of communities attempting to brand themselves. Branding goes deeper than mere tourism promotion and marketing. A recent USA Today article featured several cities that have new branding and marketing campaigns. City employees in Dayton, Ohio, now have business cards that say, “Dayton Patented. Originals Wanted.” It is part of a campaign to remind the world that Dayton once had more patents per capita than any city in the country and that the inventive spirit is still alive. Santa Rosa, Calif.’s, new tagline is “Place of Plenty,” which highlights the community’s “agricultural heritage and abundance of food and wine.”
Utility is the property’s usefulness, i.e. that it can be used for the purposes intended. For example, a fork has more utility than a hatpin if the intended use is eating rice. What is your community’s ability to satisfy the wants and needs of potential residents? Are there good schools, medical facilities, etc? Is there appropriate housing available for those who you might want to move there?
Scarcity simply means that there is a finite supply. There certainly is no shortage of communities, but there is a shortage of communities that have unique characteristics that contribute to a perceived high quality of life. What is unique about your community that would make it attractive to outsiders?
Transferability is the ease to which ownership rights are transferred from the owner to the other party. Is it easy to transfer property in your community? One thing that Mississippi discovered after Hurricane Katrina was that transfer of property rights in the disaster area was negatively affected in many cases by poor legal descriptions, loss of land records and a variety of title issues. But transferability refers to more than just transfer of real estate when analyzing a community. One must also consider how convenient and available community amenities are to its residents and visitors. For example, a beautiful park that has a fence around it because of a polluted stream does not have much transferability of benefits.
In conclusion, take some time to identify your community’s DUST.