It started as a digital fantasy. Then Madeline Khare took things offline.

The object of her desire is Los Angeles real estate—a new apartment for herself and a house for her parents, who are considering a move from Louisiana. The 25-year-old self-described “ Zillow addict” works from her current apartment as a cartoon show writer, and her lunchtime browsing recently escalated to booking showings on breaks.

“You blink your eyes and it’s like, ‘Oh my God. I need to go back to work,’” says Ms. Khare, adding that her property searches would sometimes eat up hours at a time during workdays and drag late into the night.

She has sworn off tours on Mondays through Fridays, saying she had to set some boundaries: “It was really spiraling out of control.”

People who spend working hours on real estate sites probably aren’t addicted in the clinical sense, says Kent Berridge, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan. But in the same way that recreational-drug and alcohol consumers might be prone to abuse when those substances are readily available, property aficionados are liable to get carried away when freed from the watchful eyes of their supervisors, he adds.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.