How far would you go to keep up with the Joneses?
From time to time we've all stolen a sneaky glance at next door's lawn, flower beds or water feature and felt a streak of jealousy.
But how far would you take you let your competitive impulses take you?
Quite far it seems, according to a survey from property firm Fish4homes. The study shows that our obsession for keeping up with the Joneses is so intense that more than half of us dedicate precious Sunday afternoons to tarting up the front of our houses. If that's not bad enough, a quarter of us are more concerned with outdoing our neighbours than improving the value of our homes.
If you think that sounds daft then you're obviously not one of the many homeowners who unwillingly use their precious weekends to work on the front garden. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that only a fifth of the 1,000 homeowners questioned admitted to actually enjoying the task. So it seems pride really does bear a pinch.
However, if you think it's just men that obsess about the colour and size of their lawns, then you're wrong. Women are just as conscious of keeping up appearances as men and are even starting to tackle some of the jobs traditionally thought of as being the responsibility of their other half. Yes, it seems a definite role reversal is happening when it comes to looking after the home exterior.
Although 51 per cent men take charge of trimming hedges and 14 per cent replant flower beds and clean front walls, gone are the days when the woman of the house would be indoors coyly ironing her husband's shirt. These days, 17 per cent of women are likely to be found tackling major headaches such as repainting doors, while 76 per cent admit they often fix broken tiles and 78 per cent take on the task of scrubbing the windows.
Mark Fitzgerald-Cooke, national sales director of Fish4homes, says: "It is great to see that the UK is a nation of home enthusiasts and there is healthy competition between neighbours, yet people must make sure that they invest time and money in the interior as well as the exterior to get the most out of their home in the long run". Despite our obsession for keeping appearances on the outside, it seems most of us aren't as fussed with keeping up interior appearances. But ultimately this could lose us a potential buyer, according to Fitzgerald-Cooke.
"First impressions may be important when prospective buyers view your property from the outside, but once they step inside the door, it's essential they are faced with an interior that's in great shape to help secure the sale", he says.
This competitive mentality seems to be dependent on what region you're from, according to the study. If you are from the capital, chances are you couldn't care less about competitive gardening one-upmanship, as three-quarters of lazy Londoners admit to spending a mere thirty minutes weekly on tending to their house exterior. This would surely shock tidy Scottish homeowners, who spend 120 minutes a week on preening the outside of their houses.
Geordies aren't quite so conscientious, but 82 per cent think having a perfect pathway leading up to their house is important and 82 per cent of green-fingered Welsh folk enjoy tackling the pruning.