New research from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals a nation of property spies, with eight million (15 per cent) people arranging to view the homes of people they know, when they list their property for sale. Millions of people will be unaware friends, family, co-workers and even ex-partners have been granted access by an estate agent to wander through their property in person.
In addition, almost 22 million (33 per cent) people admit to using property listing sites to look at the homes of people they know.
When looking in person, 4.5 million (nine per cent) people admit to viewing the home of a relative in person, when put up for sale, with 3.9 million (seven per cent) taking a tour of a close friend’s property and 3.9 million (seven per cent) looking around a neighbour’s abode. Three million people admit to arranging a physical viewing of their ex-partner’s property, while a further 2.9 million say that they have visited a potential partner’s property.
When it comes to a home being virtually toured by someone the owner knows, it is most likely the neighbours, with 12.3 million (23 per cent) people viewing the home next door online. Over 9.2 million (17 per cent) people have taken the opportunity to look at a family member’s home online, when put up for sale, with 8.6 million (16 per cent) viewing friends’ properties online to find out information such as listing price, storage space and room sizes.
People are obsessed with viewing properties online, with 32 million people (61 per cent), browsing homes on property listing websites despite not actively looking to move. More than 9.9 million Brits admit to having physically viewed a property in the last 12 months without intending to buy or rent, with 8.5 million visiting properties for sale while 7.9 million went to see rentals.
Of the property website obsessed Brits, 1.5 million browse properties at least once a day, 10.3 million once a week and 18.2 million once a month. The top three motivations for looking at other people’s homes online are to see the value of other properties in their area (11.4 million or 35 per cent), being nosey (10.1 million or 32 per cent) and wanting to see what they could afford (nine million or 28 per cent). Boredom (eight million or 25 per cent) and researching potential new areas to live (7.1 million or 22 per cent) complete the top five.
The research shows people should be more security conscious when it comes to having people view their homes.
An astonishing 3.6 million people admit to letting a person view rooms in their property without supervision, while two million have left valuables on display during a viewing. The risks of letting people wander around on their own are many of course; from people leaving taps running, putting the heating or lights on, to stealing, or pulling wallpaper off to check for damp or mould.
In addition, just 3.3 million sellers have asked estate agents or property websites to remove information or pictures of their abode from the listing once the sale has completed. Given that two million have accidentally shown valuables in the pictures and 2.1 million show security measures such as cameras or alarms, this could advertise the home to potential burglars.
Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said: “Lockdown has meant millions of us having extra time on our hands and clearly one of the most popular past times is to look at properties. As a home obsessed nation, with many binge-watching series like Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Listing, it is understandable that we’re so curious about properties around us. The stamp duty holiday will have added even further incentive to start searching for properties.
“Those looking to sell their homes should be mindful that some seemingly genuine viewings may be people just wanting to have a nose around. It is important that sellers take sensible security precautions, such as removing valuables and personal items from view, ensuring they do not appear in photos and are not visible when someone is viewing. Once a property transaction has been completed, ask the estate agent or property website to remove the photos and information from the listing.”