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House Lust: America's Obsession With Our Homes Hardcover – January 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038551929X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385519298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the current downturn in the housing market, the country's mania for homes that exploded during the last half-decade is still alive and well, according to Newsweek writer McGinn. The fascination with homes—talking about, valuing, scheming over, envying, shopping for, refinancing, or just plain ogling homes—has continued even after the market has cooled, McGinn argues, and can be seen in the ongoing popularity of HGTV, the 24-7 real estate and home improvement cable channel and its flagship show, House Hunters. To prove his thesis, McGinn entertainingly explores the gamut of housing obsessions, from buying personally designed and oversized trophy homes, attempting large-scale renovations and spending obscene amounts of time on real estate Web sites such as Zillow and PropertyShark to actually going out and getting a real estate license, which McGinn himself does after only minimal training. It is this ability to get inside the actual lives of the housing-obsessed rather that relying purely on statistics to prove his point that makes this book as enjoyable as an episode of Flip This House, another popular housing reality show that McGinn cites in a book that is, at heart, all about behavior, not economics. (Dec. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for HOUSE LUST
"House Lust remains relevant in spite of the bust because, by and large, people will never stop jonesing to keep up with the Joneses."--USA Today

"[House Lust] raises provocative questions that strike at the covetous soul of America’s culture and economy."--The New York Times

"[House Lust] is a witty survey of the world of buying, selling, and gossiping about homes."--The Wall Street Journal

"Daniel McGinn examines what drove history's greatest real estate boom with insightful, often amusing, anecdotes."--The New York Post

"To understand this overweening desire for residential improvement, McGinn takes a humorous journey across the country... it's obvious McGinn has done his homework." --The Seattle Times

"[House Lust] has been something of an instant hit."--The Worcester Telegram & Gazette

"McGinn writes like a social historian, albeit one with an impish curiosity and willingness to follow each thread to the end... House Lust is a good-humored and entertaining first book."--The Real Deal

"A highly-readable... snapshot album of 21st century American Life."--Kirkus

"It is [McGinn's] ability to get inside the actual lives of the housing-obsessed rather than relying purely on statistics to prove his point that makes this book as enjoyable as an episode of Flip This House."--Publishers Weekly

"After an odyssey that brought him in contact with every aspect of the housing boom, Daniel McGinn gives a deep sense of the spirit of our times--the Zeitgeist--and an understanding how this boom has led to our current economic problems."---ROBERT SHILLER, author, Irrational Exuberance

“The best part of this smart, entertaining book is that while you're laughing at other people's excesses, you're simultaneously calculating how much it would cost to do a renovation like theirs.”---JOEL STEIN, columnist, Time Magazine

“Hot properties, hypnotic home shows, and hysterical American homeowners – HOUSE LUST has it all. Daniel McGinn has written an insightful, comical read for the real estate junkie in all of us.”---ALEX McLEOD, original host, “Trading Spaces”

"A satisfying fix for anyone suffering from REAS--that's ‘Real Estate Addiction Syndrome,’ of course."---MICHAEL GROSS, author, 740 Park

"Every social gathering may end as a gabfest on real estate, but no one is as entertaining, informative, or knowledgeable about why we love our homes--and how the building industry makes use of our passions--as Daniel McGinn. HOUSE LUST is like a cocktail party without the hangover.”—STEVEN LEVY, author, The Perfect Thing

“It's Tracy Kidder-meets-Freakonomics as Daniel McGinn wryly explains our national obsession, profiling a cast of quirky characters along the way. HOUSE LUST is required reading in boom or bust."---ALISON ROGERS, author, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A very interesting and easy to read book.
Gary B. Rosenthal
This book is very well written and everyone will either see themselves in this book or know many people like the ones described.
Thomas J. Grace
This book is an entertaining look at the house lust of Americans.
My2Cents

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Zoyd on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It seems that whatever Americans get into these days, it turns into a weirdly competitive sport for them: whether you buy a new car, TV, BBQ, whatever, the Olympic motto applies: faster, higher, stronger... So it's not surprising that the same is true when it comes to real estate, but the mind still boggles at the kind of insanities people come up with to create what they believe to be their dream home. (I mean, how many bathrooms could you possibly need in a house?) That's what HOUSE LUST is about - it's a great and entertaining piece of reportage that takes you across America and in the course of which you'll meet all kinds of crazy people with grand designs for their homes, designs that are often as remarkable as they are ludicrous. But what makes the book even better is that while it's ostensibly about America's obsession with real estate, the author, Daniel McGinn, is also smart enough to see this as a symptom of a deeper problem: that we still seem to think that size matters.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By npjutr on January 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Given the recent burst of the housing bubble I found this book to be particularly relevant. It examines the factors that have contributed to our fascination with our homes - in some cases to extremes that are both comedic and really sad - from a perspective that is informative, personal, and fun. It should make homeowner or want-to be homeowners like myself examine his or her priorities and behaviors more closely before making life-altering decisions.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. It is extremely easy to read, has adequate footnotes for those who want to further explore any of the topics which the author covers, and in my opinion it incredibly accurately captures the fascination/interest/obsession (and yes, even lust) of many of us have for all aspects of activity regarding our homes (and those of our neighbors and even strangers). Whatever the reason (idle curiosity, planning a move, determination of the value of your own home, interest in renovations), if you often peruse the weekly real estate section of your local paper, visit open houses just for the heck of it, often mentally decide how you would renovate or redecorate a home that you are visiting, can't resist checking out the neighborhoods where you vacation with the thought that it might be nice to have your own getaway abode there, or have graduated from watching THIS OLD HOUSE on PBS to being able to recite from memory the most watched shows on HGTV, this book is definitely for you.

Dan McGInn is a national correspondent for Newsweek. He has spent several years covering many aspects of the real estate boom that eventually assumed bubble type characteristics and is now undergoing the inevitable hangover of a correction, which will hopefully not morph into a crash. The tone and style of the book is illustrated by his examination of the traditional competition and envy (not confined to real estate), which he describes in his opening chapter about the Toll Brothers' subdivision in Potomac Maryland, aptly titled "Mine's Bigger than Yours".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on June 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first thing that strikes me about Daniel McGinn's excellent first book, "House Lust," is how supremely organized it is. We get a very well-organized tour through the housing bubble via separate, tidy, punchy chapters concerning up-sizing mania, the new-house phenomena driving booms in locales like Las Vegas, fix-up fever, real-estate investing as a watching sport, rental properties, Realtor conventions and vacation homes/time shares. Each chapter gets just the right gist of what that particular piece adds to the overall market.

Furthermore, McGinn's effort is awash in credibility. Not only did he research house lust, he lived it. Among his many participatory exploits are his eyebrow-raising purchase of a rental property in Pocatello, Idaho (he used his book advance, much to the, umm, chagrin of his wife) and his pursuit of a Realtor license. In each case, the author's first-hand involvement greatly enriches the tale.

Of additional note are McGinn's efforts to keep the book relevant at the time of the sub-prime-fueled, foreclosure-laden bust of the bubble. The book was conceived mid-bubble. The market had clearly turned prior to publication. McGinn notes this dramatic shift and adds what I feel is an appropriate level of commentary about the implications. To that end, in his Acknowledgements section he mentions that esteemed economist and Newsweek colleague Robert Samuelson "provided generous advice on adjusting the book's tone as the housing market weakened."

Speaking of Newsweek, like many others I suppose, I learned of this book through the excerpt in that weekly. I've been a long-time (20+ years) subscriber. It's a delight to see how many colleagues McGinn credits by name and how many he counts as friends.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Debra F on March 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With pre-school age boys I rarely take the opportunity to read a book cover to cover. I expected that I could skim House Lust and get the gist of the story quickly and move onto the next book on my nightstand. But I didn't want to put this one down. Each chapter revealed a perspective on the housing market and "home psychology" that I personally related to or was simply fascinated by.

Dan looks at "house lust" from several interesting, amusing, and unexpected angles. One of my many favorites was what he calls the "maximum-use imperative" in which people buy more house than they use on a day-to-day basis bedrooms, bathrooms, gamerooms etc) so that all the extended family members can stay with them once a year or they can host that perfect once-a-year party.
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