Phil Spencer explains why it is important to talk to the neighbours when you are on your property search.
When buying a property, very few of us actually think about taking the time to talk to the potential new neighbours. Talking to the neighbours should be a vital part of the buying process. When you buy, the seller will fill out a Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) which your solicitor will handle for you, but knocking on the door can head off and warn you of any possible disputes down the line.
The agent selling the property will be a great source of local information when it comes to schools, local amenities and transport, but it’s very unlikely they will know anything about the neighbours, who could be a hive of information info for you, not to mention help you make your buying decision.
1. When you view the property, ask the sellers a general question such as ‘What the neighbours are like’. From this you should get some insight – maybe they have kids, maybe they are elderly, maybe they rent the property – this will help with intros when you do knock at the door.
2. Don’t be afraid to knock at the door, but make sure you try and knock at a time that might suit the neighbours. For instance if they have kids, early morning might not fit in with the school run or if they are elderly, a late night visit might not the best idea. That’s why it is important to ask the owners some questions and get some information on them before knocking.
3. Try not to overstay your welcome and don’t expect to be asked inside for a coffee, but be polite and explain you have been viewing the property and you’re keen to say hello ahead of making any offer.
4. The outside of your neighbour’s house should tell you some of the story. Is it well kept, the garden in a tidy state, does it look well maintained. Clearly you shouldn’t be overly critical as we all lead busy lives, but the exterior could give you valuable clues.
Whilst getting to know your neighbours a little before you move in is only a small part of the buying process it is only takes a little effort into what will likely be your biggest ever investment and in my eyes is well worth doing. Either way you’ll learn something positive or negative that will mean you’re more informed when it comes to possibly making an offer.
Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. Zoopla strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.