Most Valuable Real Estate

If you are reading this right now, you most likely own one of the most valuable pieces of real estate.  Best of all, you don’t have to pay any taxes on this property.  You might even be able to profit from it if you have an entrepreneurial spirit.  But don’t get to thinking that you are so special because, though it may surprise you, millions of other Americans share the same wealth.  And so many that have it aren’t even aware of its value.  Curious yet?  Do you know what it is?







This thought occurred to me today as I sat at a traffic light reading two political statements carefully positioned on the car in front of me.

I used to think that bumper stickers are tacky, that they are meant for mindless consumers or people who under-appreciate their vehicle.  I often made the premature judgment that the drivers of such vehicles had a mouth bigger than their brain.  Now my outlook has changed since I recognize the overwhelming influence this space holds and the sheer volume of information that is communicated through one decal.

You are more likely to find a bumper sticker on a student’s door, locker, or laptop computer than you are on an automobile.  This is because bumper stickers are often permanent fixtures whereas vehicles are an indispensable product.  Few vehicle owners are willing to tarnish their pricey investment in order to make a statement.  Therefore, a man of sound mind can never say, as I once did, that bumper stickers are inconsequential.

This affirms my original idea that your car’s bumper is perhaps the most valuable piece of real estate you own.  Anyone, any idea, or any company that is able to make its mark while making you compromise the appearance or value of your car is worth its weight in gold.  Advertisers do not give the same consideration when splashing a display on a billboard or a bus stop as they do if they want that same image imprinted upon your private property.  Whether by great products, great ideas, or great persuasion, they have to convince the driver that their message outweighs his costs in the long run.

Why, then, do people still pay for bumper stickers?  The system is somewhat illogical.  To pay for something that is going to result in honks and glares from other drivers or result in a lower resale value seems ludicrous.  But beyond our opening discussion of market value, there is also a personal value for which it is impossible to put a price tag.  A bumper sticker shares so much about who a person is, what they value, and how they interpret their world.

Consider the all-too-common oval stickers with three letter abbreviations.   These are not popular simply because we live in an age of texting.  They remind the driver of a place called home or of memories made while on vacation.

The trendy family car stickers are appealing not merely because they are customizable, but because they reflect a family – one of God’s divine institutions and, presumably, something that the driver cherishes.

Ribbons are not collected like trading cards for their different colors or patterns.  They are displayed to support a cause with which the driver, undoubtedly, has a personal connection.


Political candidates (who should be the most grateful) get their names affixed to the rear of a car because the driver believes they have some message or policy which will bring greater hope.


Religious symbols give a glimpse into the soul, revealing that the driver finds meaning in his existence while crude or crass messages suggest that the driver finds no meaning behind anything in existence.

The list might continue indefinitely, but each of these examples carries a message and a meta-message. Perhaps there is no quicker way to know someone than to read the bumper of their car.  Every day I drive past people whom I have never met yet I feel like I know a bit about their personality, their values, and their history already.  Even if I disagree with their message, I love them all the same.  In fact, I must thank them for sharing their property with me and for providing me with content to strike up a conversation.