Serial open-homers keeping an eye on the Joneses
Denise Haridemos regularly visits open homes with her husband and children. Photo: Rohan Thomson
House hunting may be a chore for some, but it's more art than agony to Denise Haridemos.
The Nicholls woman is among the growing number of people who see weekends as a time to enjoy other people's homes instead of their own, spending their days off at open houses they have no interest in buying.
Mrs Haridemos compared her weekly outings to scrap booking, with the search for home designs simply taking place in the flesh instead of on paper.
She said while open-homing wasn't something her family meticulously planned each weekend, it had become a semi-regular ritual over the past few years.
"Certainly if we're driving around and we see a sign we will pop in," she said.
"Or if there's a house that we've been eyeing off that looks nice and we see that it's open, then we'll definitely make an effort to go have a look."
She said it could be any number of things that draws a serial open-homer like herself to a house, such as architecture, design or location.
"It's amazing how every one is so different," she said.
"It's always good to see what's out there and the new ideas, because lots of people have ideas in their homes that you can take with you. The way that they think and their colour schemes, I just enjoy it."
And it's not just Mrs Haridemos who appreciates a sneak peek into other people's homes - her husband Andrew and their three children also get involved.
"We've sort of dragged our kids around since they were young," she said.
"For years we've always flocked into open homes. We just enjoy it, the whole family. Even my oldest now, she actually enjoys looking at architecture and colours and furnishings. I think it's probably from us dragging her around."
Despite being an eager open-homer, Mrs Haridemos is far from becoming what real estate agents would label a regular.
LJ Hooker agent Stephen Thompson said there were enthusiasts he had encountered on a weekly basis for more than a decade.
"The inner south where I work, we see the same people every weekend," he said.
"There are people I know who have been looking at open homes every weekend for the past 15 years."
Mr Thompson said there were a few common reasons people attended open homes they didn't intent to buy, such as gathering design ideas or getting a feel for the market.
Psychologist Vivienne Lewis said some people may be driven by creative reasons, but the more common motivation was social comparison.
In an upscale version of keeping up with the Joneses, Dr Lewis said open homers enjoyed seeing how their own property stacked up next to those belonging to both strangers and acquaintances.
"Sometimes you get neighbours or even friends coming along to have a look if you're selling," she said.
"You do tend to get people with no intention to buy."
For more property coverage, see the Domain lift out in Saturday's Canberra Times.