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How long do Canadians house hunt? 5 months on average, poll finds

People pass an open house sign in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Oct., 2012.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Canadian home buyers spend an average of five months house-hunting and visit 10 locations before deciding to buy but – post-purchase – they're more worried about discovering something wrong than about a price-drop, says a new survey.

The poll, done for the Bank of Montreal and released Thursday, found that the biggest worry on home-buyers' minds once they have completed the purchase is finding problems with the house – 71 per cent – while 55 per cent said they were concerned about a drop in prices.

One-third – 33 per cent – of those interviewed said they felt rushed into making a purchase; for first-time buyers, that rises to 39 per cent.

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Four-fifths of prospective buyers said they know if a home is right for them as soon as they step inside, according to the poll results.

On the other hand, 68 per cent of interested buyers are prepared to settle for a home that's less than 'perfect,' says the survey.

In terms of motivating factors, 44 per cent of current homeowners in the poll said they view a home purchase as a good investment, while 37 per cent said they felt the timing to get into the market was right.

Another 23 per cent said they bought a house because they wanted to move to a new neighbourhood, and 18 per cent said a growing family prompted them to buy.

"It's important to take a practical approach when house hunting and have a clear idea of where you stand financially to ensure you make a responsible home buying decision," BMO Bank of Montreal mortgage expert Laura Parsons said in a news release.

"Doing research ahead of time and setting realistic expectations can help you avoid making an uninformed or rushed purchase."

One-quarter of those polled – 25 per cent – said buying a home is stressful, while 21 per cent said it makes them feel anxious.

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First-time buyers are likelier to be stressed than the average home buyer: 30 per cent versus 25 per cent.

But the strongest emotions expressed were excitement (48 per cent), cautiousness (41 per cent) and optimism (31 per cent).

The survey was conducted by Pollara, based on interviews with a random sample of 2,000 adult Canadians; it took place between Feb. 25 and March 5, 2013. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to plus or minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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