Phil Spencer’s property tip of the month – tips for getting the inside track on the neighbours

December 27, 2013 at 9:51 AM 12 comments


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.

Entry filed under: Phil Spencer Property Tips. Tags: .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Matthew  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Whenever I have moved I make a point of going to the neighbours and introducing myself, and telling them that I don’t mean to upset anyone, but please please tell me if I do anything to upset them, as I am the newcomer and would never do anything to fall out with them. This immediately breaks down any barriers and prevents seething animosity!

  • 2. Queenie  |  January 10, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    I have moved into a new neighbourhood.I found the neighbours very quite and plesant. When the sold their house a few years down the line, the neighbours from hell moved in with their noisy children, barking dogs and a fondness for rock music.
    So, decent neighbours present on initally moving into a new house, does not mean peace will last for ever!

  • 3. Doreen Smith  |  January 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    My next door neighbour and I fell out 15 yrs ago and he still don’t speak. He has spoken to my partner on the odd occasion, but don’t bother too much with him either. Everything we seem to do to the house he copies. If he can avoid us he does and just grunts when we decides to speak. I never bother with him, as I don’t think he is worth the bother. His wife’s the same and they both complain when we paint the fence, they think they are lord and lady muck! I wish they’d move!

  • 4. alan  |  January 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    For a number of years I was a ‘door to door’ canvasser for various things.
    We would refrain from knocking at houses which /where -

    Had a high fence or hedge around the front garden.
    Had old cars/machinery/scrap iron in the front garden.
    Where nature had been allowed to take it’s course in the front garden.
    Where any net curtains were ‘orange’ or a dirty ‘grey’ or ‘black’.
    Had dogs barking at the back gate before you even got to the front door
    Which had refuse or re-cycling bins overflowing onto the ground.

    No it didn’t necessarily give a pointer to our chances of a sensible conversation on the doorstep; but it saved us a lot of time.

  • 5. Mary Welch  |  January 10, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    I found the fittings and contents form not worth the paper it is written on as some of the fittings which should have been left had been removed. Lights had been removed and wall lights removed and left on the hearth and could not be replaced where the originals lights had been. There was also a great deal of rubbish left in the shed and a both bins full to the top. My solicitor said it was a grey area and she would see what she could do. We eventually got four garden chairs returned but I would have to go to litigation for the rest, which I did not think it my responsibility. Needless to say there are two solicitors which I will not be using again.

  • 6. Christine bulbeck  |  January 11, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    If you meet anything like my neighbour she’s friendly and courteous on the outside but my god…….upset her and you’ll know it! If you have an honest seller they will be the ones to tell you about the neighbourhood activities, not by paying a visit, however, I do agree the cleanliness and appearance of their homes does say a lot!

  • 7. Susan  |  January 11, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Retirement properties are a good bet if you are thinking of lasting peace and quiet. However, retirement homes will not suit everyone, and they usually only want people who are over a certain age i.e. over fifty-five or over sixty.
    However it is not likely the ‘family from hell’ will be moving into a retirement estate, and if you do move in then obviously you have to be aware of a lot of elderly people around you who do not want noise.
    I guess it depends on priorities, but there is always an element of luck when moving around. You can never be hundred per cent safe wherever you move, but the tips above at least can minimise any risk of conflict or future problems arising.
    Another tip I would give is look out for a lot of cars parked outside a house and ask the neighbours if there are any noisy parties that go on up the street.
    Most people are civilised and only too willing to make friends with new neighbours; it’s only a minority that cause significant problems but they are best avoided if you can avoid them.

  • 8. Christina  |  January 11, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    Brilliant discussion! I have learned so much since I bought my first property. And the one thing that stands out is: MEET YOUR NEIGHBOURS!! I would not recommend that anyone who enjoys a certain amount of peace buy near a house share. People renting rooms are always young and enjoy making noise. And watch out for those garden flats overlooked by neighbours. I had a peeping tom who made gardening (my favourite hobby) very uncomfortable. Moreover, there is a high volume of people moving in and out as they don’t stay long. And to make matters worse….the owners are elderly and does not care a hoot about what their renters get up to as long as the money rolls in. MEET YOUR POTENTIAL NEIGHBOURS!!

  • 9. Nell  |  January 13, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    It’s a very sensible idea to be aware of neighbours. Our lovely neighbours recently moved and unfortunately the house was bought by an overseas landlord. The tenants are noisy, messy and unfriendly, bordering on hostile. Their dogs are left home alone all day and bark incessantly, and the garden is covered in dog mess. The landlord remained uncontactable until he needed work doing to the joint drains which he expected us to contribute to. This frustrating situation is not of our making but do I reveal the problem to prospective purchasers of my house? I have taken advice from all corners and the situation has improved, this is a ‘nice’ area and I think they have realised that their behaviour is not acceptable, but it can become a nightmare when you feel powerless, and the noise is preventing sleep. It really affects the quality of life and feels like an invasion.

    • 10. Derek  |  January 13, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      I can sympathise with you regarding properties being bought by undesirables. Where we live, the property was purchased then let out. The first tenants were a delight to live next door to but did not stay long. The next tenants turned a lovely home into a tip, introducing livestock which created rats and then took it into their own heads to systematically destroy the interior of the home. After the landlord having words, they did a “runner” and what a mess they left behind. New tenants are now in but nothing has been done about the overgrown garden.

  • 11. Derek  |  January 13, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    When we moved to our current location, a next door neighbour was an elderly, polite lady but over time she learned that we were not married and showed her disgust by saying the likes of you are not wanted around here. She, obviously, had not done her homework as there are many couples in road who have never married. She made it up with us, eventually, but she crossed the rainbow bridge some years ago. None so queer as folk!

  • 12. Diane  |  January 21, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I am in my 70′s and need to down-size. I have a neighbour from hell, even Parkinson’s is not slowing down the bullying/harassment. The last 3 years have been hell. Just contacted the Mediation Service, and hope that this will at least sort something out for me.


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