Provocative post Dan. Interesting way of thinking about land ownership and going beyond just landlords to also reflect on the role of owner-occupiers.
I think there are two avenues worth exploring further.
When you talk about minimising the amount of money spent on real estate, I think one option is for younger people to preferentially rent from fellow young people. I don’t think this is entirely without potential issues, but I think there is something to be said for helping a fellow millennial to pay their mortgage, compared to putting money in the coffers of a landed boomer. At the same time, this exchange should also offer the renter more housing security and autonomy than they would other wise get renting from a distant landlord. This is still a landlord-tenant relationship, but I think it’s more accessible and practical as a mass solution than housing co-operatives, which seem marginal to me. That said, a step up from this model would simply be those two people both putting in capital and in effect being joint owners.
A second option is to improve renting. You nod to this but I think it warrants more exposition. If renting allows autonomy and security (and it can) then you actually have a great solution - the interests of renters are actually aligned with creating great neighbourhoods. Currently I think the main problem with renting is the insecurity, which can discourage renters from investing in their geographic community, and certainly seems to discourage nearby owners from investing in relationships with their renter neighbours. Greater security of tenure would do a lot to change this. You’d then have a situation where people living in the neighbourhood don’t want property values to go up (maybe even want them to go down?) but do want to create a well-connected, vibrant community.