KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Malaysia has been ranked as the most property-obsessed nation in the Asean region, which has in turn contributed to many delaying other important life stages including marriage, having children and cutting back on other expenditure.

HSBC Malaysia’s Retail Banking and Wealth Management Country Head Tara Latini said property addicts — defined as those who spend over seven hours weekly reading about, researching and viewing property — are more likely to delay these stages as they save for the perfect home.

“Twenty-five per cent of extreme property addicts in Malaysia have delayed having a baby by seven to eight years, and another 25 per cent have delayed having a baby by five to six years in order to purchase a property,” she said in a statement.

Latini added the remainder 50 per cent of property addicts have delayed having a baby by less than two years to get on the property ladder.

With Malaysia behind the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Taiwan in terms of property obsession, Malaysians still spend an average of 4.37 hours viewing property, as compared to other activities, such as an hour at the gym, 1.95 hours to read books, and reading or watching the news at 2.27 hours.

“Globally, 19 per cent of these property addicts have delayed having a child to get on the property ladder, twice the average person.

“Furthermore, extreme property addicts are twice as likely to delay marriage to save up for their next property purchase,” she said.

Latini said it is interesting to note that an estimated 46 per cent of Malaysians have made sacrifices in order to buy a property, by cutting back on expenditure including cars, holidays and luxury items.

However, she also said despite the obsession by house hunters over finding the perfect property, the purchasing decision is often impulsive, with 38 per cent deciding on a property based purely on their first impressions.

“When it comes to Malaysia, difficult neighbours would put off more than half of Malaysians, or 55 per cent,” Latini said.

She said buying a property is often the biggest and most significant purchase a person makes, but some are taking their passion for the perfect home too far by not having realistic expectations about what they can afford, in part due to the industry of property magazines, TV programmes and websites.

“It is essential to begin this buying process by having an open discussion with your partner, your family or financial advisor to discuss what you can afford and what compromises you might have to make.

“Buying a property should be a positive experience, and with some careful planning, it can be an exciting one too,” Latini said.