I am sure that this s a question that has to occur to us as professionals. We talk and write about "properties" and "houses" and sometimes homes. Every now and then an experience or a client will have an impact that makes us rethink what home means.
Robert Frost penned what I consider to be perhaps the most depressing definition of home. Granted, the entire piece is pretty depressing on several levels, but as is often the case with great writers, he leaves us with a deeper understanding of life, human nature and human relationships.
In The Death of the Hired Man, Frost wrote, "Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in."Not a particularly welcoming vision of hearth and home. As we deal with many families facing foreclosure, renters who through no fault of their own have not only lost the place they called home but are unable to find another because they have no money for deposits or inadequate credit, I hope we can listen to their dreams of home, modest as they might be and help them to find a home.
For some, a warm, dry place to eat and sleep with minimal space or facilities is plenty. Different people need different things but our job is to remember that they, not we are going to be living there. It doesn't really matter how comfortable or safe we feel in a dwelling space if they are happy with it. If it is habitable and they can get financing, then we can provide all the relevant information and respect their decision to live in a place they can call home.
As for a literal definition--it depends. As a noun it can mean a shelter or dwelling, a usual residence, or a place of refuge (such as a nursing home) As a verb it can mean to aim or direct by use of coordinate (think military). There are many idioms we use as well. "It's nothing to write home about" or we are" home free." We speak of driving a point home when we want to emphasize getting someone to understand something.
Perhaps may current favorite definition si this one: the place in which one's domestic affections are centered . Simply another way, I think, of saying Home Is Where the Heart Is. I like this definition because to me, it is freeing. It can be a physical place or not. Perhaps those of you who have traveled a great deal or who have been in the military understand this more easily than those who grew up in one place or who have family all centered within a small geographic area. There are places and people in the world that make you"feel at home". I was showing property recently and the owners of the home (it was a FSBO Open House my client and I stumbled across on the way to a nearby listing) told me they were selling and going to travel full time in their RV and see if they could find somewhere to settle down-or not.
How many of us, as adults with grown children still say we are "going home" for the holidays, or to visit family? We do not often think of having multiple homes but this is a way in which many of us do if we have famiy in other parts of the country or the world. Going home to have a birthday dinner with your mother could mean driving to the place that you usually sleep at night or it could mean flying across the country.
As REALTORS we have to remember that what counts is the client's definition of what makes a home, not ours. We can inform, educate, suggest and guide, but it is going to be their castle, not ours.