Dear Ms. Demeanor,
Is it rude to ask someone what their mortgage payment is?
In a word? Yes.
In a city where sexual positions, Botox, and stock tips are freely discussed at bus stops, school drop-offs, and over dinner, the only real mystery left is money. Certain upper-echelon salaries may be published in the New York Times and apartment rents and sale prices are available to anyone with a StreetEasy account, but generally speaking the only known mortgage payment is the one you pay (hopefully) yourself each month.
Among good friends, mortgage rates and maintenance/common charges per square foot are fair game. Strangely enough, people also freely discuss their rents as well, perhaps because rent is fleeting and doesn't hint as broadly at the size of the down payment or net worth.
Obviously, if you are a real estate agent on the make, any question is fair game and the "rude" part is often expected, if not implied.
Curiosity killed the cat and many a friendship,
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to email@example.com and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.