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Australians love of real estate shows few signs of waning

Australian’s fascination with the property market has been well documented. But how does our obsession stack up against other real estate fanatics from around the globe?

Are you an extreme house hunter?

How much time do you spend each week reading about or researching the property market?

A) Up to 1 hour
B) 2 hours
C) 2 – 3 hours
D) 3 – 4 hours
E) 4+ hours

If you selected D or E above, guess what? You are an extreme house hunter.

Go to any backyard barbeque in Australia and before you even have the chance to help yourself to a snag, chances are the conversation will have turned to real estate – who’s got it, who wants it and how much it’s all going to cost.

Yet it seems no matter how much the discussion centres around tighter lending criteria, poor housing affordability or interest rate volatility, new research shows it appears to be doing little to dim our hopes of either achieving or improving the great Australian dream.

A recent report from banking giant HSBC shows globally residents spend an average of 3.5 hours every week window shopping for homes, reading property magazines and trawling online listings despite the fact many admit they are not in the market for a new home.

The survey found Australians clock up 2.5 hours a week focusing on the property market – more than twice the time they spend at the gym (1.08 hours), speaking to their parents (0.88 hours) or reading bedtime stories to their children (0.9 hours).

This was well ahead of the time spent by respondents in France (1.74 hours) and Canada (2.08 hours) but less than those in the property-mad countries of UAE (6.6 hours), Taiwan (4.54 hours) and Malaysia (4.37 hours).

Nearly half of all Australians (46%) cited difficult neighbours as the chief reason they had been put off purchasing a property, with their counterparts in France (43%), Malaysia (55%) and the UK (43%) feeling similarly.

Those in Canada and the UAE considered rumours of the property being haunted as a deal breaker while the biggest turn off in Taiwan was bad feng shui.

Those in Singapore would walk away if the door number or street number was unlucky.

The survey, which was conducted online between November and December last year, captured the views of 11,932 people aged 21 years or older.

It found that just over 6% of people across the countries surveyed can accurately describe themselves as extreme house hunters. This group spends more than seven hours a week reading about or researching property.

Almost half (49%) of these extreme house hunters check the value of their home monthly compared to the 23% of Australians who undertake the same task – and even then, they only do it four times a year.

Despite their fixation, extreme house hunters clearly feel their time is being well spent, with 74% of respondents claiming they feel “relaxed” about buying property and four in five insisting they feel “in control” of the process.

The research also found that extreme house hunters are more likely to delay important life stages as they save for the perfect home.

Globally 19% of extreme house hunters have put off a child to get on the property ladder, twice the global average. In Australia, most property hunters conceded they had delayed having children by 3.97 years in order to buy their first property.

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