Feeling smug about property

As it’s so topical, I have regularly been discussing the economy, decisions in regards to rate cuts, and how the future is beginning to look for those of us in the real estate industry. Although the market appears to be on the up, when things aren’t fantastic, we tend to look to the future as a way to get through the current situation. That’s what has been taking place for a while, but realistically you really do still have to look at the here and now of your property situation. I read a very honest, and pretty funny article on exactly that topic over the weekend.


Human nature often results in us taking delight in the failings of others, and it would seem this rings true for real estate too. I’m not condoning this behaviour, but it’s difficult to deny that most of us have felt a little of that tall poppy syndrome at some stage, and the article I was reading outlined how as a homeowner, the author was secretly clapping her hands with glee when she discovered the real estate misfortunes of her neighbour.  In particular, the rather significant price reductions on a house on her street had many of the neighbours gloating – mostly because the home was considered out of place in the ‘hood due to its size and glamour factor. It would seem that the unimpressed neighbours are delighting in the fact that what was supposed to be a cash cow for the owner now stands empty and unable to sell.


So many people engage in celebrating the miseries of others that there’s actually a word for it, albeit a German one – schadenfreude. The author of the tale of neighbourly woe I was reading changed this around somewhat to introduce debtenfreude, which I can imagine is fairly rife at present and not just in regards to real estate. I like to think that rather than just out and out enjoying seeing someone else suffer at the hands of their debt, it’s actually more about our personal lack of suffering in comparison. It’s very easy to be self righteous and shake your head at your neighbour’s now obvious over-extension when you’re in a much safer debt boat. I think at a base level, the more we announce our disbelief over someone else’s highly avoidable predicament, the more we fear ending up in the same situation.

Maybe the age old caution of if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all needs a bit of a dusting off. It would certainly be put to good use and a new lease of life for those times when it seems far too tempting to comment on the lack of attendees at your ludicrously over-mortgaged neighbours’ home opens.  


Posted by Charles Tarbey on 21/07/2009 at 8:55 AM | Categories:


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