Ever moved into a new house and realised that your new neighbour is the drummer for an amateur metal band?

Or snapped up a new pad only to discover that the bedroom turns into a swamp every time it rains?

Property expert Phil Spencer has headed up Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location alongside Kirstie Allsopp for almost two decades, and has now set up Move IQ, a website that produces 45-page status reports on properties.

There are a lot of traps you can fall into when assessing a property he explains.

“I know of one sale where the buyer didn’t do their research,” says Spencer, “and bought a house without realising the neighbours were running a business with 24-hour deliveries.

“I’ve worked on several cases of buying a house from a divorcing couple, when you find out later that the person still in the house doesn’t want to sell.

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“There are lots of examples of people buying houses, and then finding out that the right permissions weren’t in place for building work done by the previous owner. If a house has probate, that can be complicated...Honestly, it’s a minefield.”

He took some time away from the cameras to comb through the real estate red flags that should make you dig a little deeper - if not send you running for the door.

Knowledge is power

Unfortunately, the most worrying warning signs are the ones you can’t see.

“Your priority is misinformation,” says Spencer, “you need all your info to be as accurate as possible, and it will come primarily from the estate agent and the vendor.

“Ask direct questions, ask them again, and then ask the same questions of different people.”

We wouldn’t want to cast any aspersions, but you can take it as read that estate agents aren’t going to lead with the negatives.

“The key thing,” says Spencer, “is to ascertain why the house is being sold. Have they outgrown the house, are there financial reasons, or is there an argument with a neighbour?

“There are plenty of valid reasons for selling, but you want to know how motivated the vendor is to do the deal. Will they want to conclude quickly, and how willing might they be to agree to a price reduction?”

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Once you’ve got a handle on the seller, you can turn your attention to the house itself.

If the house has been on the market for six months under a different agent, undergone repeated surveys and fallen through, that’s need-to-know information.

Next up is the price - is it reasonable?

“The internet has made making comparisons easier than ever, but you need to be sure you’re looking at fairly recent sales,” says Spencer.

Buyers and sellers

You and your vendor don’t need to be bosom buddies but there’s a certain amount of trust at the heart of every sale.

“You want to know that they’re selling you the truth,” says Spencer. “If you ask a direct question, you need to be confident you’re getting an honest, if probably gilded, answer.”

Unmotivated sellers can spell trouble - last-minute mind-changing can be infuriating and costly - and be wary of overly-canny sellers straining every sinew to show their house at it’s best.

“I’ve also seen examples of sellers stowing things in storage to make their house look roomy enough for children and two adults,” says Spencer.

“There is, if you move half your stuff out.”

Beware stubbornness, not just in your vendor but in yourself.

“Sometimes people become ‘principled’ in property negotiations,” Spencer says.

“It’s not the time - if you’re paying good money for something, don’t fall out over a loo seat. I’ve seen little things like that derail massive property deals.”

Bricks and mortar

For many, a house viewing involves scouring every nook and cranny for dry rot, blue tack stains and missing roof tiles, but for Spencer, such practical pitfalls are a secondary concern.

“I wouldn’t get overly het up about it,” he says, “the surveyor will come in and give the house the once over.”

Much more important are pre-existing works and renovations, and the paperwork for them.

“If you do end up negotiating, you want to be able to warn your surveyor and solicitor about any extensions, because you’ll need the forms and permissions that support that work.”