Keeping up with the Joneses

Real Estate Agent with Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon

There have been numerous articles about who's to blame for the current real estate market, and what to do about it.

  What I don't see a lot of is people talking about the inherent need created in the American culture to keep up with the Joneses. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting a nice house, nice clothes, nice car, etc.  Shoot, I want those things, too.  What I don't want is the stress associated with pushing my finances too far.    



I have to sit back and wonder what things would be like if people could be more content with what they have and what they can afford...

What if people lived in smaller homes?  We'd have more grass and turf areas to absorb rain runoff, use less tress for construction, and less chemicals in our environment that are used in keeping it clean.

 What if debt to income ratios were really what they were supposed to be?  We'd have homeowners that could pay their bills, hopefully save, and then weather through it when the crappy things happen.  Crappy things happen to everyone, so it's important to plan for them. 

What if people could afford their homes?  My father-in-law used to drive a limo and picked up a homeowner at a gorgeous home.  When he walked in there was no furniture.  The man had lived there for a year, but could not afford to furnish the home.  Maybe people could afford to surround themselves with items that made their home feel "like home" to them.

What if people were content with working with what they have?  We'd have a less stressed society, maybe less road rage, less anxiety, less depression, and maybe fewer divorces. Let's face it foreclosure isn't pretty.

What if people actually read what they were signing?  We'd have a lot fewer option arms, and teaser rate loans generated.  Maybe people would have taken a second look and realized what they were getting into for the future.

The American culture shifted somewhere.  Instead of saving for the future and down times, many families used their homes as credit cards.  The industry made it easy for people to buy homes they could not afford, and easy to walk away when they decided they couldn't afford it anymore.  I, for one, hope we as agents, lenders, and home buyers, learn that keeping up with the Joneses has a price to pay.

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Comments (7)

Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

Boy is this post a home run....I'm flagging this.  Great post.

Nov 29, 2007 02:51 PM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co


I could not agree with you more on this post! I was thinking something very similar about a week ago after cruising around othes posts that seem to blame everyone else.

Keeping up with the Jones' is a good example of not taking personal responsibility. Boomers have become  the "spending generation" unlike most of their parents in the "saving" generation. And those even younger, learned it from the spenders.

Nov 29, 2007 02:59 PM
Marsha Cleaveland
No longer in the sales business - Glendale, AZ
So true!  When we wavered from our values of saving for emergencies and respecting nature, we go off course and look where we ended up! 
Nov 29, 2007 03:01 PM
Todd and Danielle Millar
Glenn Simon Inc. - Edmonton, AB
Nineteen years of excellence!
I saw an article like that on and thought "Why would you look for anyone to blame?" It is all to typical a reaction.
Nov 29, 2007 03:56 PM
Kevin McGrath
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies- Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania - Fredericksburg, VA
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies

Great post. Only problem - the first picture - beautiful. Now I want to move there to keep up with you.........


Nov 29, 2007 10:30 PM
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

Kevin-I wish this was my house.  Having coffee on the balcony...I would be that person that slept on an air mattress on the floor in this house. I could tell all my friends to come over for a BBQ, and then never let them inside.  At least they would think I was rich...

Only problem is...I'm thinking it would take me 1/2 hour to go get my Starbucks addiction fed.   I can't imagine a Starbucks being too close to this palace.  I don't know Starbucks Mocha's vs. spectacular view...Tough choice.  The good news is the decision is out of my hands.  I can't afford that palace.

Nov 30, 2007 01:43 AM
Vanessa Stalets
RE/MAX Elite - Brentwood, TN
REALTOR, Brentwood TN Homes, Real Estate
Melina- How true. The driving desire to have more, get more, keep more is running multitudes of people straight into the ground. Once upon a long time ago people seemed more accepting of limitations. Not that I am in favor of docilely letting the world go by, I am ambitious to no end. I am merely acknowledging the
"bug" so to speak that seems to bite us all at one time or another...
Dec 07, 2007 02:22 PM