If you judge by headlines, Canadians don’t care about sex or food or the other tactile pleasures of life in 2023, they only care about the housing market. A housing story is a guaranteed read.

I read those stories too. I don’t know why since I am not in the market to buy or sell anything, much less a house. But there is something about the pandemic that makes people think musingly, “Imagine if that were me. ”

Good thing it’s not.

Toronto fraudsters have again managed to list a house for sale without the owners knowing a thing about it. As the CBC reports , all it takes is a homeowner and a real estate agent who aren’t paying attention, casually verifying identity documents with a mere glance.

These con artists had slipped their way into renting a Beaches home just off the lake and then staging it for sale with the usual faux-furniture. Shameless. And they got offers, including one for $1. 9 million before the appalled owners uncovered the scam, presumably saying “Hey, that’s OUR house! ” Amazing.

As well, the Star’s May Warren reports that Toronto mortgage brokers are seeing an increase in private and alternative lenders forcing the sale of homes where the owners could no longer afford to pay the mortgage. The homeowners survive, although not intact, but only because they agreed there was no option beyond a quick sale.

If this indicator is appearing now, it means problems popped up some time ago and are only now being dealt with. It means more forced sales to come. It doesn’t mean that more people are actually losing their houses as major banks foreclose in brutal fashion.

Yet that’s an underlying fear, always the worst kind. (Imagine if that were you. Positive thing it’s not. )

Furthermore, house sales are slow. Except when they’re fast. Inevitably, some houses do sell. And prices are dropping, unless you’re in an area where they’re not. Should you buy a house now? In a less desirable area? Or should you dive in wholeheartedly and go for the house of your dreams? And drown. Or not?

In case you get a floating-rate mortgage? For how long? Or spare the particular wear-and-tear on the nerves and get a five-year fixed rate? And expire of bitterness when rates fall?

Never mind. Most people are olives right now anyway. They need to be soaked overnight in oil to extract their own pandemic bitterness.

What stressful times we live in. Nothing works. The LCBO was hacked? We lost Rogers connectivity? SickKids was cyberattacked?

Some people manage things perfectly well. I, for instance, try not to leave the house past a daily walk under the beautiful evening sky. Even if We didn’t have long COVID and spend long hours reading Jan. 6 Capitol Riot committee report compilations *with addenda while munching on sugared pecans, I wouldn’t dare leave the house lest con artists slip in and sell it without my knowledge.

You may say I’m paranoid. You would be correct. But imagine if I were lackadaisical, trusting and inattentive. A valuable thing I’m not.

I advise individuals to adopt the motto “Shelter in place. ” I mean, I would if people asked for my advice. They don’t. Yet imagine if they did.

By shelter in place, I mean plant yourself in whatever built structure you inhabit at this time and accept its demerits: dodgy neighbours; the buzzing noise in the fridge that goes away just before the repairman arrives; the rocklike mortgage; the hard place rent; the hateful job you can’t quit because you’re between the rock and the hard place.

I recall John Cleese (before his decline into crankhood) collapsed in the road in the movie “Clockwise. ” “It’s not the despair, Laura, ” he moaned. “I can stand the despair. It’s the particular hope.

And that is the problem with shelter in Toronto this winter. Do you have hope? Imagine if you did. Good thing you don’t.