Fewer than half of estate agents actively ask sellers about any issues with their neighbours that could then be shared with potential buyers, new research suggests.
Agents are required to report any negative issues that may affect the buying decision under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.
But insurer Churchill found just 40 per cent inquired about issues such as noise complaints or antisocial behaviour.
Once an issue did come to light, sellers were required to drop the asking price by an average of £5,400 in Scotland and £7,000 in England and Wales. The research further revealed that just one in five estate agents asks sellers if they have had issues with their council and 15 per cent of these would pass this information on to the prospective buyer.
Martin Scott, of Churchill, said buyers should ask their agent to disclose as much information as they can about the property, seller and neighbours.
“If an estate agent has been made aware of a nightmare neighbour or previous council disputes, they are obliged to inform the buyer. Withholding such information could see them face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or two years in prison.”
National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) managing director Mark Hayward acknowledged it was down to the estate agent to inform buyers of any problems with neighbours, and suggested using a “reputable agent” to avoid any problems down the line.
He added: “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. 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 five tips to help buyers make a more informed decision that include asking questions and inquiring about issues such as past or ongoing disputes. the advice goes on: “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.”