Will the Garage Evolve as Real Estate Changes?

blue chevrolet car parked beside white wooden house

Recently, NASA plunked a one-ton, car-sized vehicle down on Mars—complete with a pet drone aboard. The next day, screens showed the first high-definition pictures of the Martian neighborhood it will start digging up shortly, while meantime, hi-def videos of the landing were being processed for release this week.

The More Things Change…

There was a time when everyone could count on the world around them remaining pretty much as it had always been. Back then, it was safe to assume that your children would dwell in a community whose institutions and lifestyles would remain comfortably familiar. Today, most folks will be startled if everyday living doesn’t become markedly (and unpredictably) different.

We’re constantly experiencing the daily ramifications of nonstop innovation. We’ve discovered that we have to pay to get rid of those big, heavy, expensive, picture-tube TV sets. Never mind the VHS videotapes gathering dust in the garage; in a wireless streaming on-demand world, owning physical copies of music or movies has become a quaint artifact of days gone by.

Technology Drives Change

So, it’s certain there will be practical repercussions as technology advances ever more rapidly. For instance, alert locals bent on trying to suss out what’s next would have sat up straight earlier this month if they happened across one back-page financial news item. The tripwire for them would have been the name in the headline: Elon Musk. That name is often tied to some startling conjecture about an improbable endeavor—later followed by the announcement of its actual achievement.

The article in question dealt with the investment possibilities for SAV technology and how deeply Mr. Musk is invested in SAV development. “SAV” is short for “shared autonomous vehicles,” which boils down to self-driving taxicabs. First must come the safe perfection of ‘self-driving’ technology (which is progressing at warp speed). Robotic vehicles won’t have or need side-mounted mirrors or steering wheels, so they aren’t street-legal yet—but it’s only a matter of time. (Anyone who doubts that need only recall that horse-drawn buggies aren’t allowed on freeways).

Uncertain Future of the Garage

Frequent speculation has it that as soon as self-driving cars and trucks predominate, it’s inevitable that human drivers will become an unacceptable danger to one and all. Meantime, Uber has already demonstrated the advantages of vehicle sharing. For the moment, Mr. Musk is currently associated with 60.8% of the autonomous vehicle accidents now under investigation—but never mind, it’s only a matter of time.

What then are the real estate repercussions for this endeavor? They may be unknowable, but at least one seems likely. Keeping in mind how, in the Victorian era, a handsomely mounted built-in wooden icebox was a valuable addition to any thoroughly modern kitchen, a future question may be, “how much of an asset is that two-car garage?” But we can relax for the time being—the current real estate market still values a spacious garage.

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