Property porn: Browsing property websites becomes a pastime for home-obsessed Brits

  • 63 per cent of Brits admit to perusing property websites even when they have no intention of buying
  • 2.6 million home obsessives browse at least once a day
  • A nation of property snoops – 38 per cent of all Brits have checked the price of someone else’s home online in the last year
  • Property lovers league table – Sheffield, London and Newcastle top the list

New figures1 from Direct Line Home Insurance reveal the true extent of the nation’s property obsession as 63 per cent of all Brits admit to ‘window shopping’ online for homes that they have no intention of purchasing.

The study, by Direct Line, uncovered a further 2.6 million self-confessed ‘property addicts,’ browsing online property sites at least once a day to keep a check on prices, design trends and daydream about their future home.

The insurer’s city league table highlighted the most enthusiastic property browsers were in Sheffield, where three quarters (74 per cent) of all adults admit to window shopping for homes. London (72 per cent) and Newcastle (70 per cent) complete the top three.

Table one: City league table

City % of people that browse property
websites when they are not planning to buy
Sheffield
74%
London
72%
Newcastle
70%
Cardiff
65%
Plymouth
64%
Belfast
63%
Birmingham
62%
Brighton
61%
Edinburgh
61%
Liverpool
61%

Source: Direct Line 2016

Window shopping is only the beginning however, as 38 per cent of Brits, equal to more than 19 million people, admit to using an online property site in the last year to check the price of someone else’s home. Neighbour’s homes were the most commonly cited (52 per cent of property snoopers) followed by family members (38 per cent), close friends (31 per cent) and colleagues (21 per cent). Potential new partners (10 per cent) and ex-lovers (nine per cent) were also amongst the most popular.

The motivations for keeping such a close eye on property websites range from nosiness to fantasy. Sixty per cent of those that browse do so to keep a check on local property prices, whilst 40 per cent are swatting up on future potential areas to live. Daydreaming about homes they can’t afford drives more than a third (34 per cent) to property sites, whilst interior design inspiration (29 per cent) and checking the value of their own home (26 per cent) were also key motivations.

Katie Lomas, head of Direct Line Home Insurance, commented: “We are a nation of property obsessives with very good reason. Our homes are our castles and becoming a homeowner or even climbing the ladder in the UK is a huge challenge and aspiration for many.

“Property sites are a source of information and inspiration and browsing these sites has become something of a past-time for millions of people. The flip side of this trend is that those who list on these sites exhibit their homes and belongings to millions of strangers every day. A common-sense approach to the images they present is important – ask your estate agent to avoid images that show expensive personal possessions or personal information and don’t display the full address. If you are selling your home on a property website, make sure it is protected with a fully comprehensive home insurance policy.”

The findings also highlighted some interesting trends amongst specific demographics. Those aged 18 – 34 were more likely to use property sites to window shop and snoop than any other age ranges. In fact, eight per cent of all 18 – 34s admit to checking the price of a potential new partner’s home in the past year and six per cent said their same about their ex. Men that use property websites were also more prolific users, the average male that window shops online does so the equivalent of nine times each month compared to the female counterpart who browses six times a month.

Notes to editors

  1. Study conducted by Opinium Research 8 – 11 Jan 2016 amongst 2004 UK adults

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 300 7838 or visiting www.directline.com.

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