Property has been a national pastime for decades; the traditional wander up the high street after Sunday lunch to peer in estate agents' shopfronts and leave fingerprints on the window is alive today as it ever was - as we can tell every Monday morning from the number of unique deposits on the glass.
But since the property portals came into the picture, an entirely new obsession has consumed us all, keeping us in its grip at any time of day or night. We no longer need to be in the same country to immerse ourselves in the goings on of the local property market, so there's no respite even when we're abroad.
Websites like Rightmove and Primelocation have made it far easier to search for property, far easier to register with multiple estate agents, and far easier to advertise homes to a wider audience at greater speed than ever before and with real-time availability. All positive factors in the moving process.
But an unexpected effect of all this convenience is that it's made homehunters of us all, even when we're not even looking to move. Saved searches and tantalising alerts relentlessly tickle our interest, planting the seed of that glamorous conservatory, gorgeous garden or one-off architectural design. We have become full-time property opportunists, always on the hunt, always on the lookout, 'just in case the right thing comes up'. Which it inevitably does.
And when that happens, all hell breaks loose. It's almost predictable which homes will cause such a stir: ones where there is some sort of potential or unique quality or seldom available location. This of course means more than one person will want it, most with a property to sell that isn't on the market because nobody had yet made the decision to move house. This can result in us having multiple new homes to sell at the same time, all competing with each other to sell first, while we're trying to get the highest price and best buyer, all the while up against the clock. Everyone knows that most of them will lose out and everyone automatically becomes the ideal client: thoroughly realistic on price, open to offers, flexible in the extreme - whatever it takes to get their dream home.
Such is the draw of property. But more than that, such is the draw of home. We are a nation of home lovers and the opportunity of owning the home of our dreams brings out an urge and level of determination that is not easily overcome. We cannot help ourselves.
Alas there is no solution for this; no handy hint, no top tip. We must simply accept that this is the new reality; it's with us forever; it's in our blood. And, like much of what happens in life, it's ultimately and simply just one of those things.