The study, conducted by Opinium Research between 8 – 11 Jan 2016, finds 63 per cent of the 2004-strong sample of adults admit to perusing property websites even when they have no intention of buying.
Meanwhile, 2.6 million home ‘property addicts,’ browse at least once a day to keep a check on prices, design trends and daydream about their future.
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 was next with 72 per cent and Newcastle (70 per cent) complete the top three.
The study reveals 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 report says 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, while 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.
The findings also highlighted some interesting trends for 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.
Direct Line Home Insurance head Katie Lomas says Britain is "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," Lomas says.
“Property sites are a source of information and inspiration and browsing these sites has become something of a past-time for millions of people.
Lomas also takes the opportunity to plug the services of her company, arguing the flip side of this trend is that those who list on property 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," she advises.
"If you are selling your home on a property website, make sure it is protected with a fully comprehensive home insurance policy.”