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Opinion, Property and Environment

Australians Exposed as Property Obsessed

According to new research by HSBC bank, Australians clock up an average 2.5 hours a week preoccupied by the property market – more than twice the time they spend at the gym (1.08 hours) or speaking to parents (0.88 hours).

The research, which makes Australians the seventh-highest property obsessed nation in the world, demonstrates that a cooling housing market is doing little to dent our property fixation.

Property extremists (6 per cent) have taken their obsession one step further, spending more than seven hours viewing property each week.

They feel the time invested in researching properties pays off, with three quarters (74 per cent) saying they feel “relaxed” about buying property and almost four in five (79 per cent) feeling “in control”.

House hunters are even putting off having a baby (8 per cent) or delaying marriage (6 per cent) to get on the property ladder, the survey of 11,932 adults across the world found.

Alice Del Vecchio, head of mortgages at HSBC Australia, said some home buyers are taking their passion for the perfect house to the maximum.

“An industry of property magazines, TV programs and websites has made it harder than ever to have realistic expectations about what you can afford,” he said.

“Many Australians are putting off important early life stages, such as having children, in the quest to afford the perfect property,” she says.

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Not much will stand in our way when it comes to purchasing real estate, either.

Rumours of a house being haunted would only deter 21 per cent of buyers, while “difficult” neighbours are the biggest deal breakers in the quest to find the perfect home (46 per cent).

PRDnationwide’s national research manager Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo believes people have become so consumed with real estate because it has traditionally been recognised as a wealth building strategy, which piques everyone’s interest.

“Property will always be a hot topic at the dinner table with friends,” she said.

“We’re also obsessed with renovations and creating a dream home that suits our lifestyle.”

Our preoccupation is also fuelled by the fact that the internet has put real estate at our fingertips at any time of the day, Australian Property Institute chair Tyrone Hodge says.

“The voyeurism element of real estate also gives us permission to view inside other people’s homes and what they’ve done them, which we all love,” he says.

“Looking at real estate is more than just research – it’s an investment opportunity, a hobby and entertainment combined,” he says.

However, our obsession can often be detrimental to success, as time is a key component to capital growth, according to property expert Leonie Fitzgerald, of Wealthology Australia.

“Our own research shows that 56 per cent of our clients procrastinated for at least six months before signing a property contract,” she says.

“People simply don’t want to fail. It’s easier to do nothing than it is to be decisive,” Fitzgerald says.

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Melbourne buyer’s advocate Emily Wallace says purchasers often spend hours scrolling through online real estate platforms.

“Many buyers enjoy the online research element but that excitement soon turns to confusion and exhaustion after a few Saturdays spent going over properties, and their judgement becomes clouded,” she says.

There’s a fine line between looking at real estate for research purposes and entering a zone of obsession, Wallace warns.

“If you spend too long caught up on researching, you may never take the leap to purchase.”

By Nina Hendy
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