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Upsold: Real Estate Agents, Prices, and Neighborhood Inequality
by Max Besbris
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-226-72137-8 | Cloth: 978-0-226-72123-1 | eISBN: 978-0-226-72140-8
Library of Congress Classification HD7304.N4B473 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 333.338097471

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
What do you want for yourself in the next five, ten years? Do your plans involve marriage, kids, a new job? These are the questions a real estate agent might ask in an attempt to unearth information they can employ to complete a sale, which as Upsold shows, often results in upselling. In this book, sociologist Max Besbris shows how agents successfully upsell, inducing buyers to spend more than their initially stated price ceilings. His research reveals how face-to-face interactions influence buyers’ ideas about which neighborhoods are desirable and which are less-worthy investments and how these preferences ultimately contribute to neighborhood inequality.

Stratification defines cities in the contemporary United States. In an era marked by increasing income segregation, one of the main sources of this inequality is housing prices. A crucial part of wealth inequality, housing prices are also directly linked to the uneven distribution of resources across neighborhoods and to racial and ethnic segregation. Upsold shows how the interactions between real estate agents and buyers make or break neighborhood reputations and construct neighborhoods by price.
 
Employing revealing ethnographic and quantitative housing data, Besbris outlines precisely how social influences come together during the sales process. In Upsold, we get a deep dive into the role that the interactions with sales agents play in buyers’ decision-making and how neighborhoods are differentiated, valorized, and deemed to be worthy of a certain price.

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