Shaming residents in small housing units

Without data, it is impossible to know how common this might be but one family in San Diego was recently chastised for living in a two bedroom condo:

Mike and Kelly Brüning, from San Diego, CA, are feeling shell-shocked after receiving an anonymous letter from a neighbor shaming them for the size of their house. According to San Diego’s KSWB, the couple, who have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, have been living in their two-bedroom condo, not far from the beach, for almost nine years.

In the scathing letter, the neighbor called the parents out for being too “selfish” to get a big enough home with a yard for their kids. (We are not making this up.) “Because you like the beach, your boys are trapped in a tiny, one bedroom upstairs apartment,” the message read. The rude neighbor then closed out the nasty letter by saying “SHAME ON YOU.”

This sort of article brings out the worst in the Internet: (1) a single incident that may be representative of nothing (2) paired with a bad headline and text suggesting the owners live in a tiny house (no – tiny houses tend to be something different than two bedroom condos) (3) plus discussions of shaming when this is really just ridiculous passive aggressive behavior on the part of a neighbor.

On the other hand, if tiny house dwellers suddenly ran into such a backlash – neighbors and others thought that such small spaces limited the upbringing of children – this could be interesting. There are a number of reasons people might be opposed to tiny houses, particularly zoning and property values issues. If this occurred, it could be akin to those who have claimed that McMansions – the opposites of tiny housesare bad for children.

Once a home is labeled a McMansion, can it be redeemed?

McMansionHell recently examined a home in Flower Mound, Texas. A real estate insider asks what the listing agent is now supposed to do:

I post this not to be mean, because obviously this home has people who love it and it is someone’s home, no matter how much of a “mound” it is. There are some very pretty parts. I post it because I truly want your opinion: what would you do with a listing like this to make it more appealing?

A good question for either a real estate agent or a homeowner. With McMansion almost never serving as a positive term, I assume having a home labeled a McMansion is not going to (1) help with the selling price or (2) entice buyers. Even when such homes were really popular, I don’t think too many people would label the homes McMansions to help their cause.

Crazy idea: could you shame people and damage their lives by outing McMansion owners and agents who sell such homes? If you don’t like suburbs – and there are plenty of people who can’t stand them, including a number in academia – this could be an individual level strategy to discourage people from living there. Or perhaps some wealthy McMansion critic could buy up such homes and redevelop the property (presumably with structures they liked better or they could provide a memorial garden).