It’s board game night and Ryan and Bridget are also planning to answer Amala’s question about the price of rent. She wants to know who sets it. Luckily for everyone, Bridget happens to have handy her version of “Real Estate-Opoly.” It’s the classic board game about renting and buying that’s inspired family fights and feuds for generations. But before they can get started, the duo are sucked into the game. While they try to figure out a way out, they’ll learn the answer to Amala’s question and a whole lot more about renting and owning a home.
Tips for grownups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids
- What do you think about renting or buying after this episode, is there one you think sounds better to you and why?
- Would you rather rent an very large and fancy home or buy a smaller but less expensive home?
- Ask your kid what they like or don’t like about their own home, suggests Susan Wachter, professor of Real Estate at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Envisioning the kind of home they’d like to live in is great practice for the serious planning they’ll do later in life.
- Not So Random Question: If you were a pirate captain with a huge treasure chest full of gold, what would you do with it?
- There are some cities with something called rent control, where governments step in to limit how much landlords can raise rent each year. You can learn more about rent control with this explainer.
- Bridget learned why housing can be more expensive in some places than others. Check out this list of most expensive housing markets in the U.S. (this is from 2023, this data can change over time).
- The concept of owning land hasn’t always been around. Take a moment to look at how the idea of owning a portion of land developed over time.
Thanks for listening to this episode! Do your kids have more questions about housing and homes they want us to answer? Send them to us using this online form.
This episode is sponsored by Greenlight. (For a limited time, get $10 when you sign up for a Greenlight account at greenlight.com/MILLION).
RENT (NOT THE MUSICAL)
RYAN: CLEARS THROAT
SFX: DOOR OPENS
BRIDGET: Oh, hey Ryan! Thanks for coming to my board game night! I can’t believe we’ve done three seasons of Million Bazillion together and this is your first time at one of these! Come on in.
(MUSIC: SOFT DIEGETIC “RADIO” MUSIC YOU’D PLAY AS GAME NIGHT PARTY MUSIC)
RYAN: [MUMBLY/TRAILS OFF] Oh, sure, yeah, thanks for Inviting me. Again. I was busy the other five times you asked to come to game night.We have a listener question to answer and I figured I guess I finally better come to one of these!
[SFX GOING DOWN STAIRS]
BRIDGET: Here, let me introduce you to some of my other game night regulars. They actually help answer listener questions all the time. Here’s Olivia, she works at the library, Olivia, Ryan, Ryan, Olivia.
OLIVIA: Hiya, Ryan! I brought carrots and rice cakes for snacking!
BRIDGET: And my bank teller, Gil. I get a lot of my little money facts from him!
GIL: (NERDY FEDORA GUY TYPE) Greetings, Ryan! Bridget, I brought your complimentary edition of Bank Tellers Monthly. Methinks you’ll find many a factoid of interest within its pages. Did you know 39% of kids ages 8 to 14 in the U.S. have a savings account?
RYAN: Can’t say I did. So what kind of game are we playing- Mafia? Werewolf? Maybe we warm up with a round of Charades/Jenga/Hangman?
BRIDGET: This is actually more of a board game night. We’re trying to decide between these two games. This is Castles and Commerce. It’s a medieval role-playing game with its infamous 57-sided die. Or Brain Freeze, the college-level math trivia game. It requires headache-inducing concentration.
RYAN: (UNENTHUSED) Wow, both sound so fun. How do we choose? I might just grab a refreshment before we start.
OLIVIA: I brought some warm tap water in a mason’s jar. If water is too wet for you, feel free to pour out the water and just hold the jar.
RYAN: (SIGHS) This is gonna be a long night.
RYAN: Welcome back to Million Bazillion. I’m Ryan.
BRIDGET: I’m Bridget. And We Help Dollars Make More Sense.
OLIVIA: And I’m Olivia.
GIL: Didn’t we already introduce ourselves?
BRIDGET: Meant to mention, Ryan and I are going to answer a listener question tonight. It’s kind of our thing. Let’s hear it!
(AUDIO FROM THE QUESTION)
AMALA: Hi, my name is Amala and I’m from Lawrence, Kansas. My question is, who comes up with the price of rent?
BRIDGET: That’s a big question, Amala [ehm-AH-la]! We all need a place to live where we feel happy and safe. Just like we need food and water. Pretty much every family has to pay something for that place to live. It can be one of the most expensive thing they pay for every month.
RYAN: That’s right. Families who own their home might have a monthly mortgage payment. A mortgage is a loan you get from a bank to buy a house. You pay on it monthly. People who rent pay something every month too…it’s called, very creatively, the rent. Let’s hear more about what got Amala wondering about this.
AMALA: I know that some people own houses and some rent them. When people rent a house they don’t actually own it even though they live there and they pay for it. But how can somebody own something that somebody else has to pay for? And who decides how much they have to pay?
BRIDGET: Ooh, interesting, so why does renting even exist as something we can do in the first place. This is a good one.
RYAN And I know the perfect way to explore the subject of rent: by playing the most famous board game about housing there is. Bridget, do you have Real Estate-Opoly?
BRIDGET: Oh, maybe somewhere. Hold one, let me check the board game closet.
[SFX: MOVING BOXES AROUND IN GAME CLOSET]
GIL: How now, Real Estate-Opoly! Where the players have to pay rent as they move around a gameboard. It’s a bonafide classic!
OLIVIA: You win by making the most money. It’s famous as the game that’s launched a thousand family arguments. In fact, it says so on the box.
GIL: Yet, I’ve never met anyone who’s finished it, at least not in a single evening.
OLIVIA: Rumor has it, understanding property market value is so complicated, many who have started playing the game are never heard from again.
(SFX: SOMETHING EERIE INDICATOR HERE, MAYBE A THEREMIN OR LIGHTNING STRIKE)
RYAN: Yeah, but it’s still probably the best game… of the available options, so-
BRIDGET: Okay, here we go. I knew I had it.
RYAN: (IMPATIENT) Alright, let’s get started.
(SFX: BOARD GAME BOX OPENING)
(MUSIC: MAGICAL HAPPENING MUSIC)
RYAN: (BLOWS DUST) Whooo. This game is dusty. It looks like it hasn’t been played in a really long time. Where did you get this, Bridget?
BRIDGET: From the old haunted toy store before they went out of business.
OLIVIA: Oooo, spooky.
RYAN: OK, here are all the little pieces. The little silver tennis racket and the little surfboard. Ooo, I call dibs on the little truck piece. Vroom vroom!
(SFX: SCI-FI CAVERNOUS SUCKING SOUND)
RYAN: Helpppppp! [SFX NOTE: RYAN SHOULD SOUND TINY/HIGH PITCHED]
BRIDGET: Uhhh, what just happened?
OLIVIA: (STUNNED) Um, did Ryan just get sucked into the game?
RYAN: (TINY VOICE) Hey, I’m down here in the game! Can anybody hear me up there? Help me!
BRIDGET: I think he did!
GIL: Methinks this game board is haunted, m’ladies.
BRIDGET: What happens if I choose a game piece- like this little cereal bowl?
OLIVIA: Bridget, dont!
(SFX: SCI-FI CAVERNOUS SUCKING SOUND)
OLIVIA: Oh yeah, this is game is definitely haunted. And Bridget and Ryan are trapped in it.
GIL: Methinks we should not touch any pieces, or the game in any way until we can figure out what’s going on.
OLIVIA: I think you’re right, let’s enjoy some luke warm water and carrots and I guess Bridget and Ryan will maybe be back with more Million Bazillion after this?
–Asking Random Kids NOT SO Random Questions–
ANNOUNCER: And now it’s time for Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions. Today’s question comes from Trip in Connecticut. The question is: If you were a pirate captain with a huge treasure chest full of gold, what would you do with it?
RANDOM KIDS: “If I had a treasure chest full of gold, I would buy a new boat.” “I would plant a forest and make a better space where I could live.” “I would sell it to make even more.” “I would buy a better ship.” “I would buy video games, TV’s, books, and toys.” “If I was a pirate captain and I had a treasure, I would split it with my crew.” “I would give to animal shelters.” “Donate half of what I have left to charity and then use the rest to get a mansion and a paraglider.” “I would buy my own spaghetti company because spaghetti is really good.”
ANNOUNCER: That was Arya in Virginia, Ada and Ajay in Kansas, Roman in New York, Mahnoor in Seattle, Ada in Georgia, and Melody in California. This has been Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions.
(SFX: SCI-FI CAVERNOUS SUCKING SOUND, FOLLOWED BY A THUD)
(SFX: EERIE CAVERNOUS AMBIENCE, OUR VOICES ARE ECHOEY)
BRIDGET: Ahh, where am I?
RYAN: Bridget, we’re inside the board game. By the way, welcome back to Million Bazillion, everyone. On this episode, we’re answering Amala’s questions about renting. And it appears we’ve been magically transported inside the classic board game about rent, Real Estate-Opoly.
BRIDGET: How do we get out?
RYAN: Maybe we have to play our way out.
BRIDGET: Wow, look at this place! Squares as far as the eye can see, and then houses and apartments and all types of homes stretched out before us! And look where we’re standing! We’re on the starting square, next to the Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. According to my game rules [PAUSE FOR RUSTLING] we need to find a place to live before the end of this turn and spinning this wheel determines how much money you enter the game with.
RYAN: Alright, I’m gonna give it a spin. Wish me luck! (GRUNTS) Arghh, this wheel is heavy!
(SFX: ROULETTE SPINNING SOUND)
RYAN: Whoo hoo! I get to start the game with two thousand dollars in my pocket! What a lucky spin! Alright, your turn, Bridget.
BRIDGET: Wow. Okay, move aside. (GRUNTS) You weren’t lying, at our tiny size, this wheel is huge.
(SFX: ROULETTE SPINNING SOUND)
BRIDGET: Huh, $5 bucks. That’s it? Okay then. With that, I can probably afford to rent some place, but it’s gonna be tougher to buy.
RYAN: You never know. Things can change in a flash in the game of Real Estate-Opoly. Alright, let’s do this. (GRUNTS) Lemme pick up these dice. Ooof!
(SFX: BIG DICE SHAKING & ROLL)
(SFX: TRUCK ENGINE REVS, MOVING FORWARD A FEW SPACES, LANDING)
RYAN: (YELLING FROM A DISTANCE) Hey, I’m over here! I made it over to Shady Pines Park! It’s your turn, Bridget! Give yourself a roll!
BRIDGET: Ok, here goes nothing. (GRUNTS) Ooof!
(SFX: CEREAL BOWL SLIDING, LANDING)
BRIDGET: Great, I also landed in Shady Pines Park! We’re sticking together, at least for now.
(SFX: UPBEAT 50s SUBURB FEEL)
LANDLORD: (BOISTEROUS, “GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT” VIBE) Welcome to Shady Pines Park, the first neighborhood on the Real Estate-oply board and with the most affordable property, I might add! They call me Harry, on account of my neck and back. I’m a landlord! I own property and rent it out for other people to live in. Let’s see, I have a few spots available for rent! Nothing luxurious, but some clean and cozy units.There’s a one-bedroom, a bachelor, and a confirmed bachelor.
RYAN: What’s a confirmed bachelor?
LANDLORD: It’s just a closet with an X-Box in it.
BRIDGET: I think we’re good. We just want to know who comes up with rent and how they come up with how much it should be.
LANDLORD: Well, I come up with the price of rent. As the “landlord.”That word goes back to…
(SFX: MEDIEVAL TIMES SOUNDS UNDERNEATH- TRUMPET BLARE, A HORSE, SWORDS CLASHING)
LANDLORD… the Old English feudal lords of the Middle Ages when land was owned by a Lord of the Manor, and their tenants were farmers who worked the land. Nowadays, we landlords each have our own way of coming up with rent prices. What makes you curious, might I ask?
RYAN: Well, Harry, I’m wondering what it takes to become a landlord myself in this game.
LANDLORD: Brilliant my boy! When you’re a landlord, you own the home and you’re responsible for keeping the house in tip top shape for your renters. Fix the plumbing when it needs it, that sort of thing. In exchange, your renters pay you their rent on time and in full.
RYAN: An ok, so I have two thousand dollars burning a hole in my pocket from a lucky spin at the start of this game and I’m looking to invest!
BRIDGET: Ryan, what are you doing? We’re just here to learn about rent, not buy property.
(SFX: CASH REGISTER SOUND)
RYAN: Too late! I just bought that complex you’re standing on, Walnut Grove. What should I charge, Harry?
LANDLORD: (CHUCKLES) I’d be happy to take you under my wing and tell you how I set the rent, m’boy.
(MUSIC: SOME LIGHT “CALCULATION”-TYPE SCORING HERE)
RYAN: I’m listening.
(SFX: PAD SCRIBBLES THROUGHOUT)
LANDLORD: As a landlord myself, I try to come up with a rent number that lets me cover what I have to pay to own this property, plus a little extra for when I have to fix something around the building, like plumbing or electricity, which can break a lot, by the way. It’s actually one of the perks of being a renter, there’s a whole bunch of home stuff that’s someone else’s problem!
RYAN: Uh huh, huh, got it.
LANDLORD: And then I charge some extra on top of that to make a profit, but not so much extra that I can’t find interested tenants who can afford to pay. People are usually willing to pay a little more when there’s a grocery store or train stop nearby. If there’s a dishwasher in the place, you can maybe charge more, you get the picture..
RYAN: Ok, gotcha. So when I crunch my numbers, my mortgage on this Walnut Grove property breaks down to about $50 dollars a month. I own 50 apartments, that’s $1dollar per unit per month, plus let’s say, an average of 20 cents extra per unit per month for some repairs that might come up.
LANDLORD: If you’re spending around a dollar, twenty cents per month to run the place, I’d say you could reasonably charge $2 dollars to a renter. If I were you, I’d charge two dollars.
RYAN: Ok, good to know. I’m gonna set the rent at $5 dollars.
RYAN: Pay up, Bridget!
BRIDGET: Pay up? What are you doing? I thought we were friends!
RYAN: We are friends, playing the game. This is how the game works, Bridget.
LANDLORD: (NERVOUS CHUCKLE) Ryan, $5 dollars is kinda high for this neighborhood.
RYAN: I appreciate your early mentorship, Harry. (COCKY) But I think I can handle it from here.
(SFX: MONEY COMING OUT OF POCKET)
BRIDGET: (GRUMBLING) Ugh. I’m gonna have to give up all my money if I live on this space, but I need a place to live according to my game rules.
RYAN: Oh come on! It’ll be great, your home base! ! I mean, I own it, you’re just borrowing it and paying me monthly for the right to live there. But I’ll fix anything that gets broken… Eventually.
BRIDGET: Wow, you’re really getting the hang of this landlord thing pretty quickly. But how did you even come up with that number, $5 dollars? Is it because you knew that I had–?
RYAN: Five dollars dollars, yep. So are you going to pay me by cash or Zelle?
(SFX: CASH THROWN)
BRIDGET: Here just take the cash. But just for this one roll. I’m going to look for a different place a little closer to the middle of the board. This space is kinda far from the action and seems a little overpriced compared to the spots around it.
RYAN: [TAKEN ABACK] Bridget, come on now, we’re friends!
BRIDGET: Look, that’s one of the things people like about renting. They can move somewhere else way faster than when they buy!
RYAN: OK, fine! I’m sure others will land on this square, others who are willing to pay $5 or even $10 dollars for my custom amenities like… a communal laundry room, and… doors.
LANDLORD: AHEM, I don’t mean to interrupt but uh, Ryan, one of the things I always do as a landlord is look around at what the places around me are charging. And then I just charge something close to that.
RYAN: But Harry, why would I just leave it up to other landlords who don’t have my kinda hustle? I’m trying to make some money! Isn’t there an app or something to help me set the rent?
LANDLORD: Funny you should mention it. Some of the richer landlords who own tons and tons of spaces in this game DO use a computer program to help them set the price of rent. But you’d have to go to their neighborhood, Diamond Avenue. It’s much fancier than here. If you want to learn about all those algorithms and high tech stuff that tell them how to set rent.
RYAN: Well that’s where we’ve got to go next then! Let’s roll!… the dice I mean.
BRIDGET: Here’s let’s roll together, because these dice are heavy. (GRUNTS)Thanks Harry!
LANDLORD: Alright, bye. Good luck!
(SFX: GIANT DICE ROLLING SOUND, TRUCK ENGINE REVS, CEREAL BOWL SCOOTS FORWARD A FEW SPACES, LANDING)
BRIDGET: Hey, we landed on the Community Fund square. We get to draw cards!
(SFX: CASH REGISTER CHA-CHING)
BRIDGET: Hey, the bank accidentally gave me $250. In real life, I’d report this error to the bank, but since we’re inside a board game and I’m completely broke, I’ll let it slide and accept it.
RYAN: Nice! Let me draw one.
(SFX: DRUM ROLL)
CONTEST ANNOUNCER: (INTO ECHOEY MIC) And the second most beautiful man in the world is… Ryan!
RYAN: I won second place in a beauty contest! Another $2000 dollars! I feel so special! And rich! I’m rolling again! (GRUNTS) Ah, yep, that’s my slipped disc.
(SFX: GIANT DICE ROLLING SOUND, TRUCK ENGINE REVS, PEELING OUT))
RYAN: Whoo hoo! My roll takes me straight to Diamond Avenue! Catch ya later, Bridget!
(SFX: TRUCK PEELS OUT)
BRIDGET: Ok, lemme just roll here… (GRUNTS) Lift with the knees.
(SFX: GIANT DICE ROLLING SOUND)
BRIDGET: Oh no! My roll will only take me as far as… Nowhere Road.
(SFX: CEREAL BOWL SCOOTS FORWARD)
(SFX: EMPTY FIELD AMBI – INSECTS, WIND, ETC)
BRIDGET: How am I supposed to find a place here? There’s not many houses around! Mostly fields. And some train tracks. And a snake fighting a tumbleweed. I’m gonna take a look around and see if I catch up to Ryan, when we come back with more Million Bazillion.
-MIDROLL (CREDIT BREAK)-
(SFX: WINDY FIELD AMBI)
BRIDGET: Welcome back to Million Bazillion. Today, we’re answering questions about rent inside the classic board game, Real Estate-opoly and I’ve landed myself here on Nowhere Road, where I can’t see much property around to rent, let alone buy. And meanwhile, Ryan, who’s become a successful landlord, has shot past me to the fanciest part of the board, Diamond Ave. .
(SFX: RIDING MOWER APPROACHES)
LEVON: (FOLKSY RICHARD FARNSWORTH TYPE) Howdy! You look lost. Can I help ya?
BRIDGET: A little. Is there any place around here to live?
LEVON: Hmm, a little further down the road. I can give you a lift there on the back of my game piece, which- as you can see- is a ridin’ mower. Hop on back.
BRIDGET: Thanks, that really help me out,
(SFX: RIDING MOWER)
(MUSIC: SLOW GUITAR UNDERSCORES THE FOLLOWING SCENE- REFERENCE: Lalo Schfrin – 1967 – Cool Hand Luke)
LEVON: Name’s Levon by the way.
BRIDGET: Oh, I’m Bridget. How long have you been playing Real Estate-opoly?
LEVON: Welp, I reckon since I got sucked into this game while playing with my brothers back in 1974.
BRIDGET: Wow, 50 years! That’s a long time.
LEVON: Yeah, and in that time, I’ve won fortunes, lost ‘em, won ‘em again, and lost ‘em again all up and down this game board.
BRIDGET: And how did you end up living way out here?
LEVON: Welp, I reckon the more crowded parts of the board have become a bit pricey for me. And I prefer it out here anyway. The animals can roam free. And on account of not too many folks want to be out here in the quiet, homes are cheaper to buy.
bridget: You mean rent?
LEVON: No, buy. I never much liked renting. ‘Cause when you rent, you don’t own the place, no matter how much money you’ve paid into it. Better to buy if you can- and out here in Nowhere Road, you can, because everything’s priced so low, a lot more people can afford to buy.
BRIDGET: It seems nice out here. How come more people don’t live out on this part of the board?
LEVON: Welp, I reckon it has something to do with needing to be close to the action of those big cities and metropolitan areas. Out here, there ain’t as many people, so there ain’t many jobs. Not as many things to do.
(SFX: RIDING MOWER STOPS)
LEVON: Here she is. This plot of land is a full 10 acres and a little house. You can buy it for $250 in game money if you’re interested. We’d be neighbors. You could come over for supper. I’m fixin’ stew. JAG comes on TV at 7.
BRIDGET: Wow, $250! That’s a pretty good deal, that’s less than renting on some spots on the board! It’s tempting, but I’m trying to catch up with my podcast co-host in this game.
LEVON: (BEAT) Ok, then. What’s a podcast?
BRIDGET: It’s like a radio show but better. Well, Guess I better roll again. Thanks for the ride.
LEVON: Good luck on your travels.
BRIDGET: (HAVING SECOND THOUGHT) Hey, Levon, how bout you come with me? I could help get you outta this game.
LEVON: I don’t think that’s possible. Only way to get out of this game is to move around the board so fast, you fly clean off. But no one’s ever figured out how to build up that kinda speed.
BRIDGET: Well, then how bout one more regular spin around the board for old time’s sake?
LEVON: Welp, I haven’t been off this square in years. Would be nice to see some of ‘em old neighborhoods whereun I useta own myself a plot or two.
BRIDGET: Ok, Hang on Just gonna roll! (STRUGGLES)
LEVON: Here, I’ll help (GRUNTS)
(SFX: DICE ROLL SOUND, CEREAL BOWL SKIDS ALONG)
(SFX: BEACH HOUSE PARTY AMBI)
BRIDGET: Wow, we finally made it to Diamond Avenue. Real Estate-opoly’s ritziest beachside community. I never thought I’d make it to this part of the game board.
LEVON: It looks real different since I owned property here. All the beach houses look like big, white sugar cubes. Reckon’ the architectural preference today is for sharp corners.
(SFX: UNDER DIALOGUE, SLOWLY FADE UP DIEGETIC SOUNDING PARTY MUSIC, A STEELY DAN SOUNDALIKE, PROBABLY APM LIBRARY’S “RIO NIGHTS SEL-5191 #3” OR “RONALD FAGAN”)
BRIDGET: Look, there’s Ryan! He’s in a big fancy beach house! In a beige leisure suit? And he’s hosting a house party! Let’s go say hi to him.
(SFX: PARTY CROWD AMBIENCE)
RYAN: (FAST-PACED) Has everyone at the party tried the fondue? You simply must do the fondue! Grab a skewer and get to dipping! We’ve got gouda, swiss, chocolate. This fondue is buku fantastic!
BRIDGET: Ryan! I made it!
RYAN: Bridget! Long time, no see! Welcome to our little soiree! Try some fondue! Lemme introduce you to my new best friends. These are the beautiful people- this is Hans, he’s a professional yachter and his wife Inga, she’s a super-hand-model. They’re thinking of renting one of my summer houses on Diamond Avenue.
BRIDGET: Oh hi. (HUSHED) Ryan, what’s going on? You’ve really changed while living on Diamond Avenue.
RYAN: (CONFIDENTIALLY) Bridget, don’t embarrass me in front of these people. I’m about to rent them a house on Diamond Avenue.
BRIDGET: You own a house on Diamond Avenue?
RYAN: Bridget, I own property all over the board.
RYAN: I know, it’s crazy. That complex I bought on Shady Pines Park started making so much money for me and I was able to reinvest that money into new property and rent it out and now I’m, like, a luxury real estate guy and I can’t stop making money.
LEVON: Pardon, is this here flowing goo for eatin’ or is it some kind of industrial sealant?
RYAN: That goo is fondue, it’s cheese! Try the fondu! What’s your name, sir?
BRIDGET: Oh Ryan, I forgot to introduce you. This is my friend, Levon.
RYAN: Levon! Sensational! (MANIC LAUGH) Feel free to wander the grounds or trip the light fantastic on our dance floor! I own more condos identical to this just down the coast. If you’re interested in renting, let’s chat later.
BRIDGET: So how have you been coming up with the price of your rent?
RYAN: I don’t even come up with the rent price anymore. It’s a computer algorithm! The legend is true! Programs like this exist in real life and in the game, I use this computer, Rentbot 9000.
(SFX: ROBOT MECHANICS)
RENTBOT: (HAL 9000 TYPE VOICE) Hello, I am RentBot 9000. I’m optimized to determine the maximum amount someone can pay in rent. Please enter the zipcode of your property.
RYAN: See, I tell the algorithm about all my properties, and then it tells me how much I should charge to get the most money. I bought this place for $1500 and it told me to set rent for $20 a month and people are actually paying it!! Over time, it’s made me a fortune. It works so good it’s, like, scary. Sorry, I have to keep hosting this party. (SHIFTING BACK TO HOST MODE) Hey everybody, it’s time to cha-cha!
(MUSIC: CHA-CHA MUSIC – LIKELY APM LIBRARY’S: “CHA CHA ESTIVAL)
RYAN: (TO THE RHYTHM) One two cha-cha-cha! One two cha-cha-cha! Fondue cha-cha-cha!
(SFX: BIG LAUGHS IN THE ROOM AT THIS FUNNY JOKE)
RYAN: Thank you! I just came up with that! You’re beautiful, all of you!
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: Stop the party! Stop the cha-cha music!
(STOP MUSIC, CROWD DISAPPOINTED)
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: And stop the fondue fountain!
(STOP FONDUE FOUNTAIN, CROWD EVEN MORE DISAPPOINTED)
BRIDGET: Wait a minute, are you Ms. Real Estate-opoly herself?? You’re the mascot of the game!
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: My real name is Millicent Changepurse!
BRIDGET: Well it’s an honor to meet you, Millicent Changepurse! It’s so cool to see your monocle up close.
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: Yeah yeah, thanks for playing Real Estate-opoly. But I’ve got a bone to pick with how this game is being played. Ryan, that computer program you’re using to set rent is charging too much! By the time most players get to your side of the board, they can’t afford to play anymore! It’s killing the fun!
RYAN: Hey hey hey, first of all Ms. Changepurse, welcome to my party, try the fondue. Second, why are you, like, coming down on me? I’m just charging the most I can charge!
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: This isn’t what renting and buying is supposed to be about. People rent because it’s easier to move than if they own a house, and because they don’t have to do as much work to take care of the place! And some people rent because it’s more affordable than buying! But your renters are spending so much on rent, they can’t save enough money for other important things- let enough money to buy a space of their own
RYAN: Um, excuse me?? (TO ROOM) She’s kidding, everyone! Keep renting from me please!
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: When you buy a home, you know your monthly housing cost is going to pretty much stay the same for the next 30 years, mortgage payments don’t change.
BRIDGET: So that means the price Ryan charges for rent could change?
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: It sure can. The landlord can change the rent every year and there’s not much you as the renter can do about it. Some places have laws that limit how much the rent can go up.
RYAN: Oh, you mean rent control? We don’t have that here on Diamond Avenue. But keep that on the downlow. Let’s change the topic, actually. Who’s running low on fondue?
LEVON: Y’know, I reckon owning a home means you’re buying something that usually goes up in value over time. That means some day, you can sell your house and make MORE money than you paid for it.
RYAN: True, yes, but real estate’s not the only way to grow wealth. There’s the stock market, there’s uh.. crypto, there’s uh.. Uh…. a box you put money in and bury underground. You gotta diversify!
LEVON: Like I told Bridget earlier, renters don’t get anything like that. When you move out of a place you’ve been renting, you don’t take any of the money you’ve paid into it with you.
RYAN: Look, I’m just trying to win the game here! This goal of the game isn’t to buy property and give it away for free!
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: But your high prices are skewing the game! People can’t afford to play!
RYAN: That’s a YP, not an MP. That means your problem, not my problem. You want cheaper rent, move out to Nowhere Road. I hear it’s cheap out there.
BRIDGET: I just came from Nowhere Road and it was cheap, not to mention very peaceful out there with wild horses roaming free, I don’t know what I’d do or where I would work.
RYAN: So come live here on this side of the board, Bridget! We can be neighbors! But if you do move here, I’ll also be your landlord and I’ll give you a discount! $10 dollars.
RENTBOT: I’m sorry, Ryan. I can’t do that.
RYAN: Ok ok, you gotta pay the full $20 dollars.
RENTBOT 9000: Renters of similar units are now willing to pay $30 dollars
RYAN: (TISKS) Sorry, the rent is $30 now.
BRIDGET: I don’t have that kind of money!
RENTBOT: You must pay the rent. You must pay the rent.
BRIDGET: I can’t pay the rent! I can’t pay the rent!
LEVON: I’ll pay the rent.
BRIDGET: Levon, can you really afford this kind of rent?
LEVON: No. But I reckon I just can’t square taking something people need for survival and chargin’ ‘em a million bazillion dollars for it! Don’t seem right.
BRIDGET: Hey, that’s the name of our show!
LEVON: “Don’t Seem Right” is the name of your show?
BRIDGET: No, “Million Bazillion.”
LEVON: Oh, sorry, never heard of it. I’ve been stuck in a board game for 50 years.
RYAN: Look, I get this “housing” thing you’re talking about, I’ve donated old blankets, I’m a good person. But you’re barking up the wrong tree. I represent the high end of the market! Everyone knows the real demand for normal people is for the more affordable stuff! You should be hassling Harry over at Shady Pines! He taught me how to do this in the first place!
BRIDGET: Harry didn’t tell you to run away and start listening to a robot!
RENT9000: I’m RentBot9000, please enter the zipcode of your property.
BRIDGET: Quiet Rentbot! That’s it! I’m done with this game. Millicent, how do we get out of here?
MILLICENT: You have to go around the board so many times, you fly off. But you’ll never build up that kind of speed with a pair of six-sided die.
BRIDGET: Wait! I brought my 57-sided die from the other game! One good roll should send us around the board a few times and set us free. Ryan, hold on tight, we’re getting out of here!
RYAN: But I don’t want to leave the game and go back to real life! In real life, I rent.
LEVON: I reckon you should leave, Ryan. You don’t want to be like me, stuck in this here game for 50 years.
BRIDGET: Well, you’re not stuck anymore. Levon, you’re coming with us.
LEVON: No, I reckon I’ll stay behind.
BRIDGET: Levon, be serious. It’s time you leave this game.
(SFX: EMOTIONAL MUSIC)
LEVON: I’m no good out in the real world. I need to stay here and learn the new-fangled ways of buying and selling property. With any luck, maybe I’ll buy myself one of these here sugarcubes on the beach to retire to and live out my golden years..
BRIDGET: Ok, I’ll miss you, Levon.
LEVON: Take this here deed to that little house on Nowhere Road Bridget. Keep it to remember me by. Keep it in case you ever find yourself in this game again, keep it so you’ll always have a bit of land to your name- even if it’s in this here game.
BRIDGET: That’s awfully nice of you, Levon. I reckon I will keep it. And… thanks.
MILLICENT CHANGEPURSE: Bye, you two! You’re welcome back anytime. Except you, Ryan.
RYAN: Wait, why does Levon get to stay and I gotta go back? It’s not fair-
BRIDGET: Sorry too late! Time to roll! (STRUGGLE LIFTING)
(SFX: DIE ROLL CLATTERING, WHOOSH OUT THE GAME, THUMP THUMP ONTO THE FLOOR)
OLIVIA: Bridget, Ryan! You made it back!
BRIDGET: AHAHA! We made it out of the game!
OLIVIA: Are you hungry? We ate all the snacks, but I can still offer you loose mustard.
GIL: We were so worried about you! Olivia, and moi have been tenterhooks wondering- who won the game?
RYAN: I did! I won the game! I made more money! I’m the winner.
BRIDGET: No! The truth is, we didn’t finish it. We just sorta got frustrated and gave up.
OLIVIA: It’s like we said. That’s how this game always ends!
EVIE: I’m Evie from Arlington, Virgina with some money history trivia. Did you know that during the Great Depression there was a town that used clamshells as money? When the banks failed in Pismo Beach, California, people who lived there decided to use shells as money and use them to trade.
BRIDGET: This has definitely been the most eventful game night at my place ever.
RYAN: What did we learn about rent from all this?
BRIDGET: Well, I think we learned the answer to Amala’s question Rent is: the money people pay each month for the place they live, if they don’t own their home. Landlords are the owners of the homes and they decide on the price. Usually those landlords consider a whole bunch of things when they set that price, like how much it costs them to own and keep up the property, how many people want to rent a place. And Landlords are usually trying to figure out how they make the most money they can.
RYAN: There are lots of reasons people rent. Sometimes it costs less money, sometimes it’s because they want to be able to move somewhere else more easily or they don’t want to have to deal with mowing the lawn and fixing broken plumbing pipes. Families decide what’s right for them. If we’re going to talk about rent, we’ll definitely end up talking about housing. And we don’t have enough of it, where we want it, in this country. As long as that’s true, the rent, and even the cost of houses in general…is probably going to be more than a lot of people would like to pay.
OLIVIA: So, which game should we play next?
GIL: How ‘bout Candy Land?
RYAN: Good. Finally a game we can all understand and takes less than three days to finish.
(SFX: SETTING UP BOARD)
GIL: Methinks I shall select the red piece.
(SFX: SUCKED INTO BOARDGAME WHOOSH)
OLIVIA: Did Gil just get sucked into Candy Land?
BRIDGET: I think so! Alright, put on a pot of coffee, I guess we’re playing Candy Land until we get him out.
RYAN: Does this mean we get to eat a lot of candy?
RYAN: I think I’m gonna like it in theeerree– aahhhh
(SFX: SUCKED INTO BOARD GAME WHOOSH)
RYAN: Wow, that was a fun time. If you have a question you want answered, please send it to us at our website, marketplace dot org slash million. And thanks for listening to this episode of Million Bazillion!
BRIDGET: Check out the tipsheet for this episode, we’ve got some good conversation starters related to rent and housing if you want to keep the conversation going at home! Special thanks to Amy Scott at Marketplace, and also Igor Popov [Paw-pawv] chief economist at Apartment list, and Susan Wachter [Wahk-ter], professor of Real Estate at Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania. For helping us get this episode right.
RYAN: Million Bazillion is brought to you by Marketplace, from American Public Media. This episode was written and hosted by (me,) Ryan Perez. Bridget Bodnar is my co-host and the director of podcasts at Marketplace.
BRIDGET: This episode was also voiced by: Kimberly Adams, Stephanie Hughes, Meghan McCarty Carino, Dylan Miettinen and Jay Siebold,
RYAN: Jasmine Romero is our editor. Courtney Bergsieker is our producer. Nilou Shahbandi is our intern. Our sound designer is Chris Julin. Bekah Wineman mixed this episode.
BRIDGET: Our theme music was created by Wonderly. Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital at Marketplace. Neal Scarbrough is the VP and General Manager.
RYAN: Million Bazillion is funded in part by the Sy Syms Foundation, partnering with organizations and people working for a better and more just future since 1985. And special thanks to The Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund and Next Gen Personal Finance for providing the start-up funding for this podcast, and continuing to support Marketplace in our work to make younger audiences smarter about the economy.
BRIDGET: If Million Bazillion is helping your family have important conversations about money, consider making a one-time donation today at marketplace.org/givemillion, and thanks for your support.
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