lifestyle

Jessica Rudd is back: A patch or some hypnotherapy won't cure this terrible habit.

Jessica Rudd is a novelist.

It’s Thursday night. My husband is at work drinks. My daughter is in her bed and I’m in mine, but I’m not asleep.

The door is shut. I’m under the covers in our dark bedroom, lit only by the dim glow of my iPad, its brightness on the lowest possible setting.

The wifi signal is stronger than usual, I think to myself as I open a few tabs so I can switch between my favourite sites. I browse a bit, decide on a category and enter a few key words. How would I like the results arranged? Why, newest to oldest, of course—I was only here last night.

That’s a new one, I mutter to myself as I click at it with an eager index finger. Oh my, it’s huge! I’m waiting for the video to load when suddenly the door handle rattles.

My heart leaps out of my ribcage and hides behind the curtains. I shove the evidence under the sheets and reach for the nearest book on my bedside table, opening it somewhere in the middle.

He turns on the light.

‘Hi!’ I say, going overboard with the enthusiasm. ‘How was your night?’

I needn’t have bothered.

He had already seen the telltale flush in my cheeks. The novel I finished reading last week was upside-down in my hands and there was a strange, blue, luminous rectangle beaming through the doona.

‘Jess, we’ve talked about this.’

‘What?’ I ask, a vain attempt to avoid the subject.

‘Real estate porn,’ he says, soberly. ‘It’s not good for you.’

And I know he’s right.

It started one innocent Saturday morning over toast as a quick check of the market. ‘Babe, you should see this doer-upper!’

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Before I knew it, ten minutes became an hour. One site became three. I’d gone from mere visitor to Jess_Rudd with a daily email update. All of my phone’s last-dialled numbers belonged to agents and I could tell you the median house price of eleven suburbs.

“I’m under the covers in our dark bedroom, lit only by the dim glow of my iPad, its brightness on the lowest possible setting.”

All of this was happening in snatched moments of privacy—waiting rooms, grocery queues, cafes, bed—so I never expected to get caught with my pants down.

It was the apps that gave me away—he found them between Flight Tracker and Fruit Ninja.

Yes. Apps. In case you are a person of virtue, spared from the seedy side effects of this boom, take my word for it: you can now download real estate apps for free from both major property websites.

They know what you lust for—soaring ceilings, hardwood floors, butler’s pantries, double sink vanities and the irresistible continental prowess of Mr Miele and Miss Carrara Marble herself.

Sheepishly, I pop the iPad on the charger to the sound of him brushing his teeth in the ensuite.

How will rid myself of this terrible habit?, I ponder. A rubber band on the wrist? Hypnotherapy? Cold turkey? Is there a patch?

He slips between the sheets next to me and turns off the lamp. A moment passes before his hand finds mine and holds it.

‘So,’ he says. ‘Any new listings?’

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s an inside look at some celebrity houses… 

Are you guilty of a real estate addiction? What other little secrets do you keep from your partner? Anyone a fan of real estate porn?