Most Estate Agents NOT Disclosing Neighbourhood Issues
It has been suggested that fewer then half of estate agents don’t ask property sellers any questions regarding potential neighbourhood issues they face. By knowing if a property has such issues as noise complaints or anti-social behaviour local to it is a vital piece of information estate agents should be passing onto potential buyers.
It is a legal requirement for estate agents to report any negative issues that may affect the buying decision under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations but it appears they don’t seem to be bothering to collect this sort of information.
According to a new study by Churchill Home Insurance who surveyed 116 estate agents found that only 40% of estate agents actually ask property sellers to reveal any issues they may have with their neighbours. It was reported by Churchill Home Insurance that 10% of estate agents just rely solely on the purchasers’ solicitor or conveyancer to investigate any existing issues they may have.
The research revealed that just one in five estate agents asks property sellers if they have had problems with their local council and only 15% of these estate agents would pass this information on to the prospective buyer.
Churchill’s report said ‘If an estate agent has been made aware of a nightmare neighbour or previous council disputes, they are obliged to inform the buyer.
Informing potential buyers of neighbour issues is not only a legal requirement as already mentioned but according to Churchills report nuisance neighbours can devalue the property by more than £6,000 or even lose the sale. In fact sellers were required to drop the asking price by an average of £5,400 in Scotland and £7,000 in England and Wales.
So not only does this fact mean that estate agents are potentially incorrectly overpricing properties but by deliberately misleading a buyer to purchase this property could mean they will face expensive legal action further down the line.
Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, said:
“Buying a property is one of the most expensive decisions many of us will ever make. As such, we are well within our rights to be informed about issues that may affect our buying decision. Buyers should ask their estate agent to disclose as much as information as they can about the property, seller and neighbours to help the buyer make the right decision.”
Spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on a property and finding yourself lumped with nuisance neighbours is every buyer’s worst nightmare. But, there are steps prospective buyers can take to ensure they flush out as much information as possible from estate agents.
National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) managing director Mark Hayward said
“If someone is looking to sell their home and they have had a dispute with a neighbour, they must disclose this as early as they can.”
He went on to say it was still down to the estate agent to inform potential buyers of any problems with neighbours, and stated:
“It is vitally important that if you are buying or selling your home you use a reputable estate agent to ensure the right code of conduct is adhered to and that you receive the correct information.”
Churchill has suggested the following tips to help property buyers make a more informed decision:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
When you meet the estate agent or seller inquire about issues such as past/ongoing disputes and the neighbourhood.
Do your own due diligence
Ensure you visit the property multiple times and different times of the day to get a full picture of the property and the neighbourhood.
Research the local area
Talk to neighbours, look at crime statistics and visit the local shops/restaurants to understand more about your new potential home.
Check floods and pollution
Check out online resources such as the Environment Agency (England and Wales) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for information on flooding and environmental information such as pollution.
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