Is it rude to ask how much a house costs?

My wife and I just had a conversation with another couple, and both wives seemed aghast that I would ask someone what they paid for their house. The wives feel this a very rude question, akin to asking someone what their annual salary is (I do know that asking someone’s salary is inappropriate); apparently, asking a person how much they paid for their house equates to asking them to tell you how much cab they afford .

I feel I’m fairly well-mannered and appropriate in most social situations, and I’ve never thought anything of asking this question of friends and acquaintances (if the subject of housing costs comes up). I don’t believe it’s any different than asking what they paid for their car or PC.

Am I an ill-mannered philistine, or is asking what a house costs a valid question? I’d love to hear your opinions, and, if it turns out that most people feel this question to be taboo, convince me why…

<i>if it turns out that most people feel this question to be taboo, convince me why</i>

I wouldn’t ask. Without indications that it might be OK.

I guess it might be considered rude because a house is a critical investment. Knowing how much one spent on a house is likely to clue you about their spending power.

My opinion - it’s rude and intrusive, and so is asking how much they paid for their car or their PC.

Ask yourself - why do I want to know? Is it because you’re hoping to buy a comparable house (or car or PC) and you are unsure if you can swing it? If so, ask a real estate agent (or car dealer or computer store.) Is it because you want to know how much they can afford as opposed to how much you can afford? If so, MYOB.

I say it is ok to ask the price of anything, as long as you don’t accuse the person of wasting money or buying junk. I think most people disagree, though.

Well I guess to these ladies it was. :smiley:

Some people do look at this kind of question as a “how much can you afford” thing, AFAIK. I think others just see it as a “how much does it cost to live in the neighbourhood” type thing.

Some people don’t mind telling you how much their house or car cost, but draw the line at talking about how much money they make. I’m one of those.

OTOH, I’ve known people to just blurt out how much they pay for anything, how much money they make, etc. Different strokes and all that.

Gyan9- generally, I won’t ask without indications that it would be OK. A typical conversation might go like this:

Friend: …so we decided that moving to (insert location here) would be a better option
financially, epecially since houses were so much less here.
oceans_11: Really? So how much did you end up paying? (turns and swiftly dodges wife’s open-handed smack)

LifeOnWry- Asking someone what they paid for something is rude? Geez, that’s how I get the best information on good prices…

Wow, that’s a cool [gadget, motherboard, videocard, surfboard, pocketknife, etc], what’s something like that cost?

Actually, it’s not for any of the above reasons; I don’t usually find myself comparing my financial situations to others. It’s mostly because I’m genuinely curious- in this specific situation, were were visitng friends in another city, and I wanted to know what the cost of living was like there. And again, I won’t usually ask unless the subject comes up.

My three older brothers all own homes and I’ve never once felt comfortable in asking them how much they paid for their homes. This does not keep three of us trying to guess how much the fourth one paid, but we don’t ask.

It makes me uncomfortable when someone asks how much I paid for something. The people who generally give that information up on their own are often bragging - either of their spending power, or of their keen ability to find a bargain.:o

IMHO, it is boorish to ask how much someone’s house cost. Rude may be too strong a word. I think it’s OK to say something like “how are housing prices in this area” is OK.

(scratching head)

Some county recorders and assessors have all their housing records on their websites (Clark County, Nevada, where Las Vegas is, for example); even if they didn’t, isn’t this public information? BobT and his brothers could try this.

If someone down the street puts their house up for sale, and I want to know how much they’re asking without knocking on their door or bugging a real estate agent for no reason, I go to (I think) and do a search for houses in my zip code, between $x and $y, and look for my street name.


hijack: Got any long-lost friends who might have got married in Vegas?

I just don’t ask how much people pay for things. It doesn’t interest me. I also don’t like being asked. It’s one thing if I volunteer the info. With really nosey people I give bizarre answers.

I don’t mind close friends or family asking, as we live in an up-and-coming neighborhood, so I can understand curiosity about what houses go for, but I don’t care for most other people asking.

I get asked a lot about how much things cost, and I normally find it overly intrusive and impolite to ask, unless I’d mentioned “Ooh, I got a great deal” or something leading to asking.

<sarcasm> there’s a source that would have no ulterior motive in misleading you…</sarcasm>

I recently was chided for going to the public records office and researching the prices of local houses, when they were purchased, and how they’ve been upgraded since they were bought. I was originally there to prepare for a dispute over property lines, but was quite interesting so I hung around.

IMHO, it is something that is too important to keep totally secret, but it is sensitive information because people don’t like to be assigned a monetary value (family a is worth 2x as much as family b). Be sensitive and ask related questions: “How much to houses in this area cost?” “Did you get a good deal?”

If it was the case then that’d about half the topics for social conversation here in Sydney. :stuck_out_tongue:

If it was the case then that’d about kill half the topics for social conversation here in Sydney.

Preview, son… preview. Sorry :frowning:

Unless you’re considering buying a house yourself, I wouldn’t ask. Of course, I also wouldn’t ask what someone paid for their car or their PC. It’s none of my business. Finances, sex, and religion are things I don’t discuss with someone unless I know them very, very well.

I was taught that it’s rude to ask what anyone paid for anything. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve adhered to that “rule” and I get a bit miffed if someone wants to make idle conversation about what I pay for anything. Speculation about the the cost and value of a purchase is dull conversation to me.

I contrast that with discussing where to get a good deal on a particular item that I need or want. But even then, I’d not ask specifically what someone paid - more than likely, I’d say “Can I get one of those for under $XXX?”

When my house goes on the market next year, I’ll tell you what I’m asking, but not what I paid for it…

I generally think it’s rude to ask how much someone paid for a big ticket item where the price is negotiable, like a house or a car. With something like a computer, the price is generally fixed, but with a house or car, some elelement of skill is needed to get the best price. In addition to this, the price of these big ticket items relates much more directly to the buyer’s purchasing power.

Asking how much someone paid for an item like this is akin in my mind to asking them how long their wang is. People may be uncomfortable talking about it because they may feel inadaquate if they didn’t get a great deal, or spent only a little because it’s all they could afford.

OTOH, house sale prices are a matter of public record and are extemely easy to find on the internet. So if you really want to know look it up, but for heavens sake don’t ask.

There was a thread not too long ago that dealt with this same topic. If I weren’t playing “Beat the Clock” on work deadlines today, I’d look for it and post a link. Maybe someone else remembers it.

Put me in the “rude” camp (as in that thread). Finances are personal.

Cowboy wisdom: “Never ask a man the size of his spread.”