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Real Estate Stalkers Back in the News

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In an article titled "Peeping Tom: Ogling Your Neighbor's Property Price," Lyneka Little of ABC News says that "real-estate voyeurism, or online snooping, is growing increasingly popular as more homeowners and real estate gawkers utilize websites to discover how much a neighbor, co-worker, or stranger shelled out for a home."

Homeowner Sandy DeMaio Newton tells Little, "As soon as a house comes on the market in my neighborhood, or surrounding streets, I check the price."

Far from a new phenomenon, to call it "snooping" is positively quaint.

In 2007, the New York Times looked into something called “house stalking,” which, at the time, was fast becoming a popular hobby -- or disorder, depending on your worldview.

Everyone’s admired other people’s homes here and there, perhaps slowing down a mile-per-hour or two when passing by to take a look. However, the article points out that, “like many intense attractions, the level of interest can escalate, and people often turn from casual admirers or failed bidders to near-obsessives who may stop and stare longingly, or even amateur detectives -- snapping photos, talking to neighbors and tracking down property records.”

Many of them are using Google (GOOG) Earth to get a more invasive better view of the objects of their affection, as well as turning to blogs like Real Estalker, which, as the name implies, lets people stalk find out more -- much more -- about other people’s homes.

Who are these people?

Obviously, a bunch of unhinged individuals existing on the fringes of society—not college professors or therapists or people like that.

Oh…wait. They are college professors and therapists and people like that?

Margaret Farrar, an associate professor of political science at Augustana College, told the Times that, after a house she toured was sold to another bidder, she couldn’t get the house out of her mind and “became obsessed with the idea that the new owners were not worthy.”

I believe Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) manufactures something called Zyprexa specifically to combat this sort of condition.

Wendy Williamson-Scrim, a music therapist in Ottawa, has been stalking a house (and the horse in the yard) for six years and has not only photographed it, but has developed her own floor plan by carefully studying the building’s façade.

Williamson-Scrim, 38, is quoted as saying, “I like the space that comes with it. It would be great for my kids to run around. That, and the whole idea of having a horse. I’ve always wanted a horse.”

Hang on -- in Canada, homeowners throw in their pets with the house?

Maybe that’s the way to get US home sales back up.
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