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.  

You may also be interested in

view more

Property Buying Agents Explained 

At Stacks, we are property buying agents – we know all there is to know in the world of property, sellers, vendors, solicitors, and not to mention various areas of the UK. We know which properties are currently on the market (even if they’re not on the internet already). We work...

What is Gazumping? – is it a good idea?

Should you try and gazump on a house? As a buying agent, we come across gazumping; for the gazumped, it can be very disheartening and difficult to navigate. For the property seller, it can be confusing, and for everyone else, it’s just downright annoying.  Nobody likes a gazumper – even the selling...

A Guide to Sealed Bids

According to a new report from Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, despite low property transaction levels, a significant number of properties are still going to sealed bids. But what are sealed bids? What is the process? And how can we ensure that your bid wins the property? What are Sealed Bids? What’s...

Off-Market Property – Is It On The Market Or Isn’t It?

Confused by the property phenomenon of “off-market property”? Consider this. An estate agent rings you and asks if you would like to view a property. You ask them to send you the particulars, but there aren’t any. You look it up on their website – but it’s not there. Are there...

Start your property search today

Call us on +44 (0) 1594 842880 or complete the form below

    Your Details



    Your property requirements:

    Status:
    SoldThinking of movingOn the marketExchangingIn rented accommodationCash buyerIn need of helpOther


    We will never share your details with a third party. For more information about how we handle your data, please see our Privacy Policy

    How we can help you

    View our property finder services

    When making probably the most important financial decision of your life, it pays to have the right advisors at your side.

    Property Finder Service

    We search high and low, on the market and off the market, and we keep hunting until we’ve found the right property for you. Next we negotiate the best price and terms on your behalf. And then we make sure you enjoy a hassle-free move.

    Downsizing or Resizing

    Retirement or semi-retirement is an exciting stage in life. Finding the right home to live in and enjoy it to the full is important. We know that and will do all that we can to understand what you’re looking for… before starting to search. And search we will, until we find the house of your dreams.

    Moving from Abroad

    Relocating is time consuming and stressful. We regularly work with clients who live abroad. We hunt, short-list, prepare your viewings, and make the search process as easy as possible. We oversee the negotiations, manage the conveyancing, and deal with the headaches, so you can concentrate on other aspects of your move.

    Holiday Home Hunt

    A holiday home is often an interesting mix of investment and heartfelt connection. You want to use it, but you may well also be keen for others to use it too. We can advise you on what factors to consider in making your decision. And we can then find the perfect holiday home for you to enjoy.

    Investing in UK Property

    Others say, ‘location, location, location’. We say, ‘location, purpose, price, capital growth, rental returns’… the list goes on. Knowing the market is critical. Local knowledge is key. We ensure all aspects of your investment decision are addressed. Finding, analysing, negotiating, and completing… it’s what we do.

    “You showed fantastic attention to detail, anticipated all eventualities, and provided timely and practical help and guidance every step of the way.  Above all, you supported me in making my own considered decisions, and I am so grateful to you for all your help in getting me to where I am now!”

    “We firmly believe that without Rachel and her skilled negotiation we would not have secured the property.”

    “We felt they genuinely wanted to help.”

    “Stacks’ performance on this assignment has been absolutely outstanding and more than met my expectations. Her understanding of the brief and the ‘after-find’ service set a standard of professionalism that I have not met before.”

    “It is not often that one is pleased to part with money but I can truthfully say that I am on this occasion. You have earned every penny of this cheque and what is more, you have done it with great courtesy and good humour. It has been very pleasant working with you. You really did take most of the stress out of our house hunting.”

    “Encouraging me to think creatively about what could work for me.”

    “Finding a plot not yet on the market and persuading the developer to enter into an exclusive contract with me to build to my specification.

    “I was impressed by the efficient, kind and courteous service provided by Stacks”

    “Stacks were a tremendous help and we would never have found our home without them. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humour which was essential during some of our tricky negotiations

    “You gave a much-valued ‘younger’ perspective on our situation, which was a real asset”

    “We found the service extremely helpful and professional at all times”

    “I have been delighted with the service I have received from Stacks and will not hesitate to recommend Stacks in the future.”

    Subscribe to our newsletter

    Receive updates about the world of property, straight to your inbox.

    * indicates required