Monday, April 2, 2012

Do You Zillow?

I'm a real estate junkie. With a couple of exceptions, the only shows I watch on TV are House Hunters and House Hunters International on HGTV. Other tools that help feed my voyeuristic tendencies for house snooping are and The app is one of the most widely used apps on my iPhone. I use it to find listings via GPS whenever I am in a neighborhood I like. Completely addictive when wandering through a city like Chicago or New Orleans.

One of my favorite websites is When I was couch bound last week fighting a cold, Zillow kept me entertained in between naps and watching movies with my son. I narrow down the filters and virtually travel around the interactive map to investigate real estate listings. I'm guessing my real estate addiction is thanks to my parents who had multiple properties when I was growing up. I was born and raised near Chicago but spent months each year at our other homes in Florida and Colorado. Now as an adult, it's nice to be as familiar with other cities as I am with Chicago.

One of the homes my parents purchased was when I was about 8 years old in the sleepy beach-side town of Gulfport Florida, inbetween Tampa and St. Petersburg Beach. Gulfport is old Florida, small bungalows, oak lined streets, nightly dancing and bingo at the Casino on the beach and friendly people who take things slow. In the last 15 years or so, Gulfport underwent a revitalization and is now known for it's eclectic shops, art festivals and great restaurants. But for me it's still the small southern town where I roamed the streets with my friends and got into all sorts of mischief as a teenager in the early 80's.

I recently was browsing Zillow looking at properties in Gulfport and found a few charming bungalows with wide front porches, giant palm trees and carports within a short walk to the beach that can be bought for a song. A 2 bed, 1 bath for $35,000. Yes. A 3 bedroom, 1 bath for $89,000 with new tile floors (a MUST in the sweltering summers), a remodeled kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite counter-tops and a sun porch. Yes. Or maybe a 3 bedroom, 2 bath with a beautiful pool for $149,000. I found one.

Maybe a small sleepy beach town in Florida is not for you but if you are looking for real estate or just if you're a junkie like me, give Zillow a go.

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