There's no escape from real estate

Part 1: America is drunk on real estate

Editor’s introduction: The greatest housing boom in U.S. history has made real estate the hot topic. Some people have become so obsessed with home shopping that they are visiting open houses as a new form of weekend entertainment.

In some markets, prospective buyers are packing Wednesday and Thursday open house tours. And each month, roughly 20 million consumers browse MLS property listings on the Web. They are the modern-day “Lookie Lou’s,” or people who dream of owning a home but cannot or will not take the plunge.