Is buying property the new Tinder? | #tinder | #pof


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Having spent far too much time over the years on dating apps, I’m glad to be out of the dating game.

My life is too busy at the moment for those time-sink apps anyway because I’m shopping for a new home. But I soon realised that house hunting felt oddly familiar…it felt like I might as well be swiping, just on homes instead of people.

There are some obvious similarities—both dating and real estate include staring at page after page of the same basic format of profile pictures, key stats and descriptions. Then, when you find one you like, there is the awkward first meet as you work out whether they’re right for you.

But the more I thought about it, the more I found in common between house hunting and online dating…

Profile pictures not matching reality

Oh, the joys of profile pictures that look fantastic…only to see the real-life version and discover that the photos are years old and don’t reflect the current state of things.

Or the photos don’t reflect a situation that was ever a reality, whether that be through filters, PhotoShop or a fish-eye camera lens.

And I can’t forget (no matter how much I try) the ones where they’re obviously trying too hard to make a certain part of themselves appear… bigger (I’m looking at you, floorplan that showed a bedroom as a standard size when in reality a single bed took up over a third of the space).

Lies and omissions

We all put our best face forward in our dating profiles, just as real estate agents do in their descriptions of properties.

But there comes the point where descriptions go from a selectively positive description to a strange space of fanciful and poetic but ultimately meaningless prose, to just downright lies and deliberate omissions.

Sometimes the lie is easy to tell—like the photo of the man obviously in his 50s with his age set to 31, or the property that was advertised as three bedrooms, when really the owner had put up a false wall in the middle of the living room (in such a way, I later discovered, that it impeded the fire sprinkler system).

Other times you get suspicious. Like when a listing uses half the description to talk about how beautiful and lovely the property was to photograph instead of noting actual features. There must be something wrong…right? Right. Turns out there was major structural cracking in the complex.

Then there was a unit that was suspiciously cheap but that the agent claimed had absolutely no issues when I explicitly asked. Oh, except (as I discovered through a quick Google and the body corporate minutes) the flammable aluminium cladding—you know, the stuff that was used in Grenfell Tower.

When they keep contacting even after you say no

“Please, stop! I’ve said no. Stop contacting me, it’s creeping me out!” I’ve thought this more times in buying a home than in online dating—although both are disturbing.

Once I’ve said no, I expect that to be respected, yet real estate agents think that visiting a single open house means they can call me every week and put me on mailing lists.

When it’s a person I just didn’t click with trying to make something happen, I do feel a bit sorry for them and try to let them down softly. But I’ve gotten over doing that with agents. Their pestering of me when the answer has been clear suggests a complete lack of respect.

Ghosting

Ahh, the great joy in the dating scene of ghosting. For those not familiar with it, it’s when someone just doesn’t reply—be it for weeks, months or ever.

I’ve had people I’d been on several great dates with just disappear for months, only to message me again as if nothing happened. And from my discussions with others, it’s obvious this is considered a normal part of modern dating.

Amusingly, when they aren’t harassing me, real estate agents seem to enjoy ghosting too. I can’t remember how many properties I have sent repeated queries about without any response from the agent.

One property I liked, so I sent an email to the agent. Then another email. Then a text message (this is over the course of about a month). Finally, the agent responded that they weren’t able to arrange an inspection. OK, fine.

Over the next two months, I messaged a couple more times, checking in and expressing my interest, only to have the same text message that he couldn’t arrange an inspection. Imagine my surprise then when I saw online that an inspection was scheduled. No call. No email.

So along I went. When the agent asked my name, I gave it then said I was the person who had inquired five times yet hadn’t been informed of the inspection. His response? Silence, followed by asking for my mobile number (which he, of course, already had).

For both dating and house hunting, I wonder if they go by the theory of “If I don’t admit to it, maybe I’ll get away with it?”.

In another circumstance, my partner queried a property that was advertised as ‘priced to sell’. After several emails and text messages to the agent then emailing and calling the real estate agency itself, he finally got a response weeks later, saying his email had gone into a spam filter. So, it would seem, had his text messages and phone calls.

A culture of inequality

As a female-presenting person on online dating, I’ve encountered my fair bit of misogyny and sexism.

It’s very common for men to immediately sexualise a conversation even when I’m clear in my profile that I want to actually engage with a person, not just their body.

Sadly, that’s also the case with some property advertising, which uses imagery that’s as bad as some of the profile pictures I’ve seen of men posing with blow-up dolls, or groping wax figures at Madame Tussauds.

If you don’t believe people would actually set that as their primary profile photo, I have the screenshots to prove it.

Rising costs and dropping standards

Like so many people experience while online dating, the cost/benefit ratio tends to shift over time. We start off all full of energy and enthusiasm, certain we’re going to find the right person/place. We know what we want and set our standards high.

Then the weeks go by. The disappointments happen as you meet (or inspect) and find that the perfect-looking profile hid a lot of flaws. We despair that we’ll never find our dream.

And so you let your standards slip. Maybe I could go a bit older? Maybe the façade doesn’t need to be that nice? Maybe a little extra travel time is worth it?

And as this happens, your time spent on the apps increases, as we look wider and wider for the dream that somehow never seems to be a reality.

As you can tell, I’ve gotten to the stage with house hunting that I need to make fun of it so I don’t go crazy with frustration.

However, on a serious note, when people advertise properties with modifications that breach fire regulations, omit details of dangerous construction methods and refuse to take responsibility for lies and misinformation, they are putting people at very real risk.

After all, a home is a long-term commitment—not something you can easily break up with.

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