With housing in such short supply, you're not the only one struggling to find your dream house and competing with other desperate buyers who bid up prices beyond your reach. In fact, you may have noticed a newcomer to the open house circuit—a tall blonde in heels. Because even Barbie can't find a place to live these days.
She'd like to buy her very own Hello Dreamhouse: the first voice-activated, Wi-Fi enabled Barbie mansion. Almost as big as a studio I once rented, it responds to over 100 voice commands — for example, kids can tell it to open the door or to make the chandelier spin. And like a two-bedroom bungalow in the Bay Area, it's a hot commodity that's selling out instantly and sparking heated bidding wars.
Like so many must-have holiday toys, it's sold out at all the usual retailers like Toys 'R' Us, Amazon, Target, and Walmart, but available at inflated prices on resale sites. Currently you can find the Hello Dreamhouse, which retails for $299, listed on eBay for $379 and up.
And because it's so popular, it will probably remain hard to get. Unlike the Christmas chaos created by Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo, modern-day parents must compete not just with each other but with bots programmed to buy hot toys the same instant they get listed. (Bots: They're not just for influencing elections and fraying the social fabric on Twitter — they can ruin your kid's Christmas, too!)
After adding a Hello Dreamhouse to her online cart, only to see it vanish after clicking "Complete Checkout," Barbie was reportedly feeling defeated and awaiting an update from her realtor.
There are some other parallels to real-life real estate, too. While the Hello Dreamhouse is in high demand, it actually gets pretty middling reviews on Amazon. Meanwhile, there are other Barbie Dreamhouses, like this one, that are in stock and receive plenty of consumer praise.
If you've ever received or given a kid the wrong version of a wishlist toy, you know why that is. But a rational consumer might say, that's a nice house — maybe even a better one, based on the reviews — it's just not the one everyone's falling over themselves to buy. Why not get that one?
And that's the kind of reasonable person who, I imagine, takes one look at San Francisco or New York housing prices and ends up buying a home in one of those smaller, sleepier cities in Indiana or Montana that always seem to crop up in those "Best Places to Live" lists.
Now, I'm sure Fishers, Ind., Allen, Texas, and all the rest are perfectly delightful places to live. But if someone was so amazingly kind enough to buy me a house in any one of them... well, I'd probably cry the same ungrateful tears of a six-year-old whose parents bought the wrong Barbie Dreamhouse for Christmas.