Matthew Slutsky
August 28, 2009

There are some terms that I always hear, but never know what they mean. This is especially true when it comes to terms related to guilt; Catholic guilt, Irish guilt, and all sorts of other guilts are heard every day… but there is a new guilt popping into mainstream vocabularies… “Foreclosure Guilt”.

According to the article Foreclosure guilt haunts home buyers, in USA Today, Foreclosure Guilt affects people who can afford to buy low-cost properties even though friends and family haven’t been so lucky.

Anya Sanko, who recently purchased a foreclosed property in Las Vegas says, there’s a hard-to-shake worry that “you’re capitalizing off of somebody else’s misfortune.”

“I think about them all the time,” says Sanko, who works for the city of Las Vegas. “I see the names in that concrete slab, sometimes I get their mail, I see all the work they put into this house.”

Santa Fe psychologist Sylvia Lafair thinks that “there is a guilt of survivorship that is real.” Lafair provides counselling for real estate professionals whose clients express such concern.

How do you solve such guilty feelings? According to Lafair you can ease your pain by doing something kind for those less fortunate. “My recommendation is that when you’re moving, take (your) old stuff and say, ‘Do I really need this?’ and give it to a shelter or the Salvation Army. One way to balance the guilt is to do something to be gracious,” she says.

On the other hand, some of the people losing their houses may be seen as having mismanaged their own wealth. They over leveraged themselves with unnecessary purchases and lived beyond their means; for these people I don’t overly sympathize. For the others; those who lost jobs due to the recession, fell victim to fraud or were simply taken advantage of through little fault of their own, I understand ‘foreclosure guilt’. As a side note, is there such a thing as ‘stock purchase guilt’?

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