Don't Just Tour That Home Online. By All Means Judge It

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posée par CherieShanah (120 points) 01-Octobre
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Perhaps you're into a perfectly preserved midcentury modern home with a sparkling swimming pool in the Palm Springs desert. Or you're fascinated by a sprawling McMansion with cathedral ceilings and a front door you could drive a truck through. Or maybe, let's just pretend, you actually like a vintage 1970s bedroom with a mirrored ceiling and a gold shag carpet. 

Whatever you love in a house, there's a huge world for you beyond endless episodes of House Hunters and housing sites like Zillow and Trulia. There's also a dedicated online community passionate about real estate, architecture or both who spend hours finding the most bizarre, incredible and horrifying homes in America and delivering them to their thousands of followers. 

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Some, like the social media accounts Zillow Gone Wild and Cheapo Crappy Architecture are mostly about domestic window shopping, while others, like the blog McMansion Hell, take a deeper and more purposeful tone. But no matter their mission, they rank alongside adorable animal content as an enjoyable corner of an internet dominated by distressing headlines and Twitter-borne sniping. 

A McMansion in Cook County, IllinoisA McMansion in Cook County, IllinoisThis house in the Chicago suburbs is prime fodder for McMansion Hell.
McMansion Hell

For Kate Wagner, a writer and architecture critic who created McMansion Hell in 2016, the desire to see inside a stranger's home comes from both interest and envy. "I think people like to look at real estate listings out of one a sense of voyeurism to see how other people live," she says. "There's also this desire for something that for many people is unattainable. To get angry at the people who truly have and will always have, I think drives McMansion Hell, even if there's lots of other elements to it."

Wagner couldn't have started McMansion Hell at a better time. Though the US real estate market was booming long before COVID-19, the pandemic's onset pushed it through the stratosphere as buyers took advantage of shuttered offices to relocate. Nationwide home sales in July jumped 23% over the same month in 2020, according to real estate brokerage Redfin, sparking bidding wars and pushing prices out of reach for many. But even rising mortgage rates can't dent interest in the online sport of viewing and judging houses. McMansion Hell and Zillow Gone Wild approach this pastime from different sides, but both encourage their fans to do the same thing. Go ahead, gawk at the exterior and virtually walk through the rooms and absolutely critique a stranger's taste.

"I think people like to look at real estate listings out of one a sense of voyeurism to see how other people live."
Kate Wagner

Samir Mezrahi says he started Zillow Gone Wild in December 2020, at the height of the buying frenzy, after realizing he couldn't be the only person browsing when he was bored. Now with almost 180,000 Twitter followers, he admits he got lucky with the timing.

"The account really tapped into the casual person who looks at real estate whether they're looking to move or not," he says. "Peeking into people's homes and people's places, I think there's something interesting and entertaining about it."

What makes a McMansion

There's certainly no shortage of entertainment on McMansion Hell, which Wagner dedicates to skewering the most garish structures of suburbia. Though there's no textbook definition of a McMansion, Wagner listed the hallmarks of these houses "everyone loves to hate" both on her blog and in a 2017 TedTalk. Picture an oversized (typically more than 3,000 square feet) multilevel home designed in a mishmash of styles (maybe a Tudor-style roof over a Colonial porch) and with a complete disregard for such basic architectural principles as balance or rhythm.

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