I feel as though I'm looking for love in all the wrong places. But I'm not in search of the perfect guy, just a two-bedroom condo near a Metro stop.

Looking for a home to buy in the Washington area is like a foray into the matchmaking scene, though. I start to think: Is the right one for me really out there? Am I being too picky? In rejecting all buildings without doormen am I resigning myself to being alone -- or renting -- forever? Maybe the good ones are all taken.

The talk recently is of a possible real estate bubble, but from what I see it's still a seller's world. Sellers, cushioned by a plump pillow of equity, wait comfortably for desperate buyer-hopefuls to ply them with goodies.

Waiving all contingencies in the contract is a given.

How about a free four-month rent-back?

Even the housing classifieds have gotten blunter. While some still share the tendency toward creative license that is common in the personals -- "oversized windows" may turn out to be so small that you have to squint to find them -- others don't bother to try too hard. One ad for an $800,000 house proclaimed: "Needs complete overhaul." No doubt someone snapped it up.

Thus, while some people feel pressure to get married as they approach their late twenties, I feel pressure to buy a condo before prices go even higher. I've read that some people are buying boats to live on because they can't afford houses in the area.

The message? Buy now, or find yourself saying, "Remember when boats were affordable?"

Still, I don't want to rush into something that doesn't feel right. I want to recreate my beloved Cleveland Park rental in condominium form. It's hard to think of leaving my rental after we've been together for three happy years. But the relationship can go only so far.

So I've been trying to find a place with which I can have a future. And I want to make the right decision. My friends say I'm looking for the Malibu Barbie Dream Condo, with Ken stationed at the front desk to accept mail and greet visitors.

Maybe, but I'll know when it's right, and nothing I've seen so far has made me hear Etta James singing, "At Last."

I did see one ad for a place in Chevy Chase that gave me butterflies. It said it had a 24-hour desk, two full baths, a new kitchen and 1,200 square feet of space. Miraculously, it was within my price range. Definitely dream condo material -- on paper.

It turned out to have ceilings so low that I felt the need to crouch. The rooms faced the concrete wall of another building. And from a certain angle in the living room, the windows looked as though they had been bricked over.

But you've got to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. The right place -- like the right person -- is worth waiting for. It's a big commitment too. So who can blame a girl for holding out for love?

-- Elizabeth Khalil