Real estate has gone from interest to obsession for me in the past couple months, as I’ve been monitoring every apparent move in both my current Chicago neighborhood and in the Cape Cod towns to which I’m considering moving. The Web is an enabler of this obsession in both the positive and negative senses of the word. With it, I can easily scan new For Sale listings in both locations to see in which direction prices might be going, and to map distances from prospective new-home locations to beaches and other towns. I can save particularly appealing listings to favorites’ lists, making it easy to pore over the provided property images, fantasizing about furniture placement and backyard landscaping. For some reason, fireplaces and outdoor showers have become particular objects of desire – fireplaces because I’ve never had one that actually worked as an adult, and outdoor showers because they evoke images of the kind of beach-oriented life that makes the Cape so appealing to me.

In fact, I spend so much time on these sites that I’m beginning to wonder if I have a bit of a problem – like one of those online-porn addicts you hear about, who keep compulsively clicking on to the next available flesh-filled image, no matter how bleary-eyed they become (these days, with computer-display-related eyestrain, it really can make you go blind). Mmmm… yeah, that baby’s hot, but maybe the next one will have a bigger deck…

I’m hoping this is only a temporary thing – that, once I’ve found my new home, the compulsion to hunt out property postings will cease. But what, then, I wonder will take this pastime’s place – hunting for home-improvement products? Finding just the right set of fireplace tools (or outdoor shower accessories)? I might just have to turn the computer off and join the real world.

Hmmm… that reminds me, I need to add “DSL connection” to my property search criteria….

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