How to Spot Red Flags When Buying a House Like a Professional Property Finder

At Stacks, we have been finding and buying property for over 40 years. We know what makes a good property and how to get a great price. As the oldest Property Search Company in the UK, we know how to spot a red flag when buying a house – but do you?

When we say Red Flag, we don’t just mean the obvious ones, like cracks in the plaster, freshly painted walls, mould, or water damage. We’re talking about wider issues, big red flags that the average buyer might miss without an experienced property finder on their side!  

If you’re already pursuing a property, here are a list of red flags to spot when buying a house.

How to Spot Red Flags When Buying a House 

Most of our red flags when buying a house require you to do more than view the property once. You’ll need to dig to find the information. That’s why Professional Property Finders exist and why  we recommend that you work with a property agent like Stacks. We know the right questions to ask and who will have the right information. Contact us today if you want us to look into a property for you.

Stacks Property Search’s List of Covert Red Flags When Buying a House  

The vendor has lived there for a short time – If the vendor has only lived in the property for a short time (2 years or less), then it’s a good idea to ask why they are moving. There could be a justified reason, such as a new job, or it could be because of the area, the people, or something else that you will want to evaluate for yourself asap.  

The property has changed hands a lot – Similar to the vendor living there briefly. If the property has changed hands a lot over a few years, this could be a red flag. Why do people move after only living there a short time? What is the issue with this property? And is this somewhere you want to live?

The vendor is holding onto land – If the current vendor is selling the property but keeping hold of an area of land close by, then this is an indication that planning permission is coming – or at least an attempt at it – and the brilliant views you are being sold may be blocked by buildings very shortly.

The property has been on the market a long time or with multiple agents – you will have to ask around to find out, but knowing how long the property has been on the market and how many vendors have tried to sell it can give you a real insight into whether there are any red flags you’re missing. This could be a sign of a bad survey or other issues in the buying and selling process, or perhaps just unrealistic price expectations.

The vendor is living close by – where a vendor has bought a property with lots of land, and built a new home next door to live in, and is selling the original, it may be a sign that they will be a very ‘familiar’ neighbour. Perhaps that community bond is attractive to you, but try and meet them and determine how connected they will still be feeling to your property.

Buying from a divorcing couple – this is more of a beige flag than a red flag when buying a house – something to be aware of. When a couple is divorcing and selling a home, you are essentially dealing with two separate vendors, and the risk of disagreements and delays rises. Read our guide on buying from a divorcing couple here.

Rearranging viewing appointments – if the vendor is serious about selling, they should be able to accommodate your viewing schedule, not the other way around. If they are being very specific about when you can view the property or only allowing a certain time of day, then this could be a huge red flag. They could be hiding the rush hour traffic, noise at a certain time of day, smells from a local farm, etc. Question why they only want you to view at specific times and maybe arrange your own drive-by if you are able to do so.

Literal signs – be aware of physical signs in the area of the property you are viewing. Things like “No Ball Games” or “No Parking” can show the personality of the neighbourhood. This could be a good thing for you if you like a quiet street, but if you have children or are planning on having them, then these might not be the right neighbours to live near.  

Shared driveways/ parking areas – shared driveways or parking areas are notorious for causing problems between neighbours. If you’re viewing a house with a shared driveway, ask the agent to be very clear about boundaries and ask how the previous vendor and current neighbours’ relationship has been with the shared driveway. This should give you an idea of what you will be up against.

We recently asked our Regional Directors their thoughts on these issues. Find out what our they have to say here. 

How Stacks Can Help             

At Stacks, we are the buyer’s agent, which means we work with you to ensure you get the right property at the best price. We leave no stone unturned while searching for your property and ask all the questions, so you don’t have to.

If you’re looking for an experienced property agent, contact us today.  

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