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House Lust: America's Obsession With Our…
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House Lust: America's Obsession With Our Homes

by Daniel McGinn

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Written before the recent collapse in housing prices -- he does address the beginning of the slide -- this book examines in detail the mad lust for housing makeovers and insatiable desire for people to build better and more upscale with concomitant problems. Fueled by TV shows and channels devoted to peering inside the neighbor's house, it's all about size, number of bathrooms, having something visible that is better than the neighbors. Larger homes mean more space to fill up with stuff and rising equity meant more money to buy stuff -- as long as the value of the house climbs. When it falls....

Used homes became less and less desirable. People started building and then the fun really began (although Tracy Kidder in [b:House|86697|House|Tracy Kidder|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171077379s/86697.jpg|882195] describes in greater detail the travails and conflict involved in actually constructing a house.)

McGinn, himself was not immune to the fever and invested in a rental property through agents that turned out to be less fun and remunerative than he expected. He applied and got a real estate license, so we're treated to an inside view of the profession. The only ones who really enriched themselves were the banks with their fees and the agents who gained more and more commissions as homeowners increasingly saw their homes as investments rather than domiciles.

Therein lies the core of the problem from my perspective. It used to be that Americans bought and built homes to live in; now they buy them as an investment. That inevitably drives the prices up as people move up. It's the classic bubble. Whether this trend will have been brought to a screeching halt by the recent structural failure of the market remains to be seen. I read an article recently that proposed most people should rent rather than buy anyway. A house requires too much maintenance and other expenses to make it worthwhile, reducing flexibility as well.

Lots of fun to read (or listen to - good audiobook.)
( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
An entertaining mix of business and sociology, this book investigates several aspects of Americans' obsession with residential real estate, from renovation to the compulsion to buy a new home, vacation home or time-share. McGinn went so far as to study for and obtain a real estate license and buy a duplex in Pocatello, Idaho (he lives in Massachusetts)in the course of writing the book. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
Entertaining time-newsweek style quick read about American house lust and the media that feed it. File under 21st century material culture and Titanic, plans of--if you read this after 2008. ( )
  dmarsh451 | Mar 31, 2013 |
House Lust provides a casual tour through the different aspects of the American obsession with real estate: McMansions; new house fever and its polar opposite, the penchant for fixer-upers; HGTV and other glimpses of house styles of the rich, the famous, and people like you and me; and the appeal of rental properties and second (and sometimes, third and fourth) homes. This is not a rigorous study but instead an entertaining survey of what McGinn eventually concludes is an emotionally driven subject. There are no amazing revelations here, but if you're interested in houses and real estate - even a little - McGinn provides the opportunity to "peak in the window" of areas you might not otherwise have a chance to see. The book is an easy read and the chapters flow nicely; and it's a lot better than reruns of Flip This House! ( )
  OliviainNJ | Aug 14, 2009 |
Beware. This book completely took the fun out of shelter porn. And replaced it with nothing. ( )
  jonesjohnson | Apr 30, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038551929X, Hardcover)

A rich narrative that blends social commentary with incisive reporting, House Lust offers an astute, funny, and sometimes disturbing portrait of the behaviors that drove the greatest real estate boom in history—and its eventual bust.

Owning a home has long been considered the fulfillment of the American Dream. But in the last decade, as the real estate market boomed, Americans’ fascination with homes turned into a frenzy. Everywhere we turned, people were talking about, scheming over, envying, shopping for, refinancing, or just plain ogling houses—in the process, we’ve transformed shelter from a basic necessity into an all-consuming passion.

In House Lust, Newsweek’s Daniel McGinn travels the country to explore the roots of this mania. Even as the real estate boom has turned to bust, Americans remain obsessed with houses—many of us are still trading up, adding on, or doubling down to buy vacation property. But for others, this zeal for housing has carried a painful price, one that’s evident in the soaring foreclosure rates and mounting despair as millions of homeowners (and their lenders) realize they’ve stretched too far to buy the home of their dreams.

In a compelling narrative that takes us inside the homes—and psyches—of the House Lust–afflicted throughout the nation, McGinn examines the forces that turned housing into the talk of dinner parties. He explores the arms race for square footage and introduces readers to a menagerie of characters from the real estate world—from “renovation psychologists” who treat remodeling-addled clients to a guy who trades vacation time-shares the way kids trade baseball cards. McGinn also jumps into the fray himself by enrolling in real estate school and buying an investment property, sight unseen, over the Internet.

House Lust shows us just how contagious the ideal of owning the best home on the block can be. And as the real estate boom recedes into memory, McGinn offers cautionary tales to help us curb our lust when prices start rising again.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In House Lust, Newsweek's Daniel McGinn travels the country to explore the roots of this mania. Even as the real estate boom has turned to bust, Americans remain obsessed with houses--many of us are still trading up, adding on, or doubling down to buy vacation property. But for others, this zeal for housing has carried a painful price, one that's evident in the soaring foreclosure rates and mounting despair as millions of homeowners (and their lenders) realize they've stretched too far to buy the home of their dreams.--From amazon.com.… (more)

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