The curious case of Online Property Search Addiction

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For many years now, I have suspected that I may well suffer from a very modern affliction. In fact, I think it’s so contemporary that no-one – not even drug companies which is highly unusual – have classified it yet. You see, I think I am suffering from OPSA – or Online Property Search Addiction.

Looking back, I think the first signs that I had developed OPSA were about seven years ago which also happened to coincide with a rather major event in my life. It also corresponded with the start of my employment at the REIQ, but I believe that’s just a happy accident rather than a situation that allows me to feed my OPSA and get paid at the same time too, which you have to admit is really a rather fabulous state of affairs to be in.

But the initial stages of OPSA were developed back in early 2007 when I was starting to search for my first home.  As is quite usual for a first-time property hunter, I spent hours trawling online for potential purchases before bothering to actually inspect any in real life. Back then, though, my budget was very limited and I was also cognisant via working at the REIQ that the Brisbane, actually the majority of the Queensland, market was on cusp of a very serious up-turn. Needless to say I knew that time was of the essence.

Alas, it appears my reading of the market was known by most other buyers as well, because at every open home I turned up too there were queues, yep I said queues, of people waiting for the inspection to begin. Many potential first-homes were sold overnight.  Indeed many were gone before I’d even had a chance to ring the agent.

Given these extreme circumstances, my OPSA grew rapidly as I found myself searching online for more and more properties that might be suitable, let alone still available. Then a change in circumstances meant my potential budget increased significantly thanks to my brother deciding he wanted in on the first home buyer action as well. What that meant though was that I was soon exposed to a whole new variety of properties to merrily search through – I must admit my OPSA was very happy about that turn of events indeed.

Within a few weeks, we had finally found our first home but between that time and my next purchase some five years later I must admit my OPSA never really went away. I would often find myself searching through online listings just for fun – even properties that were far too big or too small and especially those that I could never afford to buy unless I married Bill Gates.

But the reason why today I am admitting so publicly that I have OPSA, after seven long years of kind of hiding it from most people, is that over the last day or two I have noticed that it has reared its head most ferociously and the timing of such a re-emergence is curious to say the very least.

On Tuesday next week, my off-the-plan investment property will finally settle some 18 months after I signed the contract for its purchase. I must admit it has been an interesting, sometimes overwhelming, experience and the first I have completed on my own so my stress levels have been very unhelpful especially over the last two or so months.

I have said to all of my friends over recent weeks: “That’s it. I’m not interested in buying another property ever again” but I think I was actually trying to convince myself and not really them. And then, over the past 24 hours, I found myself – almost daze-like – back on searching for that elusive cottage, or perhaps even a two-bed apartment overlooking the river and I knew the time had at last arrived to come clean about my affliction.

I’m not too sure how I am supposed to treat OPSA (since it doesn’t actually exist) short of cutting off my access to any type of technology whatsoever and that’s really not an option at all. No, what I think I’ll do after today’s momentous admission is recognise that OPSA doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, I think it allows us to daydream about the future, and to work steadily towards that Great Australian Dream of home ownership – perhaps just multiplied by two or maybe three.