Sales Market

Is it rude to ask someone whether they rent or own? Or just obsolete?

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
December 3, 2010 - 2:44PM

For a New Yorker, asking whether someone rents or owns is pretty standard conversational fare, at least whenever the topic turns to real estate.  But apparently we're a little out of touch with the rest of the country.

"When I first moved to NYC, I used to be shocked at how directly strangers try to deduce each other's income," notes one apartment dweller on an thread debating the propriety of the rent-or-own inquisition. "'What do you do? Do you rent or own? What building?' I guess I'm used to it now."

Another wonders:  "Is it spite? is it competition? is it to figure out how much the other people make?"--raising the question of whether it's shameful to say that you rent. Yes, says one: "Renters tend to live hand to mouth...for MOST people, it's not a lifestyle choice.  (Response: "Many, many people who are unbelievably wealthy rent apartments in this city. I think you are taking this all way too personally...they are just making small talk.")

Several commenters point out that technology has provided an alternative outlet for ownshership-status quests once you have an address in hand.

"I used to people," confesses one, explaining she used to look up ex-boyfriends and old friends to see who was getting married. A bit older and more real estate obsessed now, "I them. Not proud, just what I do." (



Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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