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Graham Awards


Investors Beware - a spring property can be seductive!

It’s no coincidence that many property owners choose to sell their homes in spring – everywhere looks and feels better when the birds are singing, and the world is greening up.

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says: “It’s easy to overlook red flags when the windows of a property are thrown open to let in the warm spring breeze, the garden is full of early promise, and the rooms are filled with light. Try not to fall in love at first sight, it’s important to look past the surface and see the flaws and potential problems. Some will be surmountable, but others are red flags that shouldn’t be ignored.”

Anto Clay of Stacks Property Search adds: “I always proceed with caution if a vendor has lived at a property for a short time, two years or less. There may be a perfectly justifiable reason, but it could point to difficulties with neighbours; the threat of adjacent building work; or something fundamental about the property itself. Dig a little deeper and ask around – neighbours, in the local pub / shop / café if they can shed any light.


“The same goes for properties that have changed hands frequently  - this is easily checked on various portals and / or the Land Registry.

“Proceed with extreme caution if the vendor is keeping back land. An application for planning permission is almost sure to follow.

“Also check how long the property has been on the market, and how often the vendor has changed agent. It may just mean it started life too expensive, but it might also point to a bad survey or other problems. Ask the agent if there’s been a survey, they are obliged to tell you. And if the property was being sold by a different agent, give them a call and ask nicely for information.”

Stacks’ Rachel Johnston is always nervous about vendors who are living next door. She says: “ It’s not unusual for an owner to have bought a property on a large plot, developed a new property on the site, and subsequently be selling the original property. Living next door to your old home is tricky, feelings of ‘ownership’ can extend beyond the sale, and while sometimes the arrangement can be wonderful, it may turn out to be a testing relationship. If there’s an abundance of caveats, uplift clauses and covenants on the new property you should anticipate a degree of interference and intervention in your day to day living and proceed with caution.”

Louise Ridings of Stacks Property Search states: “Buying from a couple who are separating can often add difficulties to a transaction. If both parties aren’t on the same page, negotiating and proceeding a sale will often be fraught with difficulty. If you spot signs of discord between vendors it’s wise to do a bit of questioning to the agent to find out what the situation is, and whether both parties are equally keen to sell.

“Beware the vendor who is always rearranging viewing appointments. Vendors who are serious about selling will generally bend over backwards to accommodate a serious viewing.”

And Anto Clay says: “Be very careful if you’re told you can only view at certain times of the day or week. It could be indicative of problems with a rush hour rat run, or road noise, or smell or noise from a local farm or business.

“I once did several viewings at a property on behalf of a client, and on each occasion I noticed that the lawn was being mown. It transpired the noise of the mower was masking the road noise that was a constant hum in the medium distance.”

James Greenwood sees it this way: “Keep an eye out for local red flags – numerous planning notices, ‘DO THIS’ and ‘DON’T DO THAT’ signs, especially close neighbours who employ bollards, ‘no parking’ signs, ‘no ball games’ notices… the list goes on.”

Gillie Pearce of Stacks Property Search comments: “Shared access and / or parking can lead to unrest. Ask the agent to be very clear about the detail of any arrangement and boundaries that involves shared ground.”

And finally Bill Spreckley, again of Stacks, suggests: “Keep an eye out for piled up sandbags – a sure sign that the neighbourhood expects water management issues.”


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