10 red flags to watch for when viewing an overseas property

When hunting for a new home abroad, it can be far too easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and miss things that could come to haunt you once you’ve moved into the property.

Related topics:  Overseas,  Property,  House Hunters
Property | Reporter
15th April 2024
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"For those who haven’t viewed properties abroad before, I would recommend that you take a look at a viewing trip guide, for key pointers on what to look for and what to ask your estate agent"
- Chris Nye - Your Overseas Home

Experts at YourOverseasHome.com have created a list of red flags to look out for when viewing properties, so you can stay on the ball and catch any potential issues ahead of putting in an offer.

While not all of these things to look out for are definite red flags, they can be tell-tale points for something worse or hidden.

Freshly plastered walls

While it’s common for new-to-the-market homes to have given the property a quick touch-up to make it market-ready, plastered walls could be hiding water damage or mould. Look out for new plaster above door frames or along the staircase wall, if you see it, make sure you ask for more details from your estate agent to rule out any structural damage.

Low water pressure

Make sure to run the shower when viewing properties. Check the pressure and see if it changes if you run the tap at the same time. Low pressure could point to plumbing issues. However, this can be easily diagnosed. It could be caused by faulty taps, blocked drains or corroded water lines. If you’re unsure, get it checked by a professional!

Water stains & mould

One thing people often forget to do while viewing a property is look up. Take a mental note of where the bathroom is so when you go downstairs, you can check if there’s any sign of water damage, as this could mean that there is a leak somewhere in the property. Similarly, if there are physical signs of mould – particularly black mould – it could point to a larger problem and could even be a health hazard.

An overgrown garden

It’s more common for homes in the UK to have overgrown gardens, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye out for when viewing properties overseas. The worst-case scenario is something that’s hard to manage, like Japanese Knotweed, which can end up being extremely costly to fix.

Stained carpets

Stained carpets are often innocent and the result of a spilt drink or food item, but if a carpet is stained in multiple places, it could be a clue of infestation. If you notice a lot of stains, make sure to ask for more details so you’re not left in the dark.

Cracks in the walls

If you do see any cracks around the house, there’s no need to be alarmed right away. If it’s narrow and isolated, it could be fine. Cracks can be caused by fluctuations in humidity and temperature. However, big cracks can be concerning. A good measure of a concerning crack is if you can fit a pound coin in it, length and depth ways. If you can, it might be worth getting a survey done to rule out any structural damage.

Areas under construction

If there is a part of the property that’s under construction that you weren’t aware of before visiting, make sure you get the full story. What are they fixing, and why and when will it be finished? You can apply this logic to development properties too, which won’t be complete when you come to buy. Make sure you have a good understanding of what the property will look like and how it will function. The last thing you want is to sign on the dotted line before knowing what the finished result will be.

Bad smells

I’m sure we can all agree that there’s nothing worse than a bad smell. If you smell something on your first visit, we recommend paying the property a second visit to see if there is something in the air or if the smell lingers. It could be that the property is close to a farm, a waste disposal site or, worse, has serious plumbing issues.

Nearby properties are all for sale

While it does happen from time to time., it can be a red flag if all the properties in the close vicinity are also for sale. You’re well within your right to ask the neighbours about the area, see if there’s anything you should know and if there is a glaring reason why they’re selling that would benefit you to know about.

Length of time on the market / quick drop in price

If a property has been on the market for a long time (over a year) it could signal that viewers have noticed something you haven’t. It’s worth asking the estate agent for everything they can disclose about the reason for selling. Similarly, if a property’s price has dropped dramatically, it could be because the valuer has considered works that need to be done to bring it up to scratch.

Chris Nye, Senior Editor at Your Overseas Home says: “Do your research on the property, the surrounding area and the property’s history. Make sure you look at the home on maps to find out what it’s near and identify any potential red flags.

“For those who haven’t viewed properties abroad before, I would recommend that you take a look at a viewing trip guide, for key pointers on what to look for and what to ask your estate agent.”

“You don’t want to move into your new home to find that there are multiple things wrong with it, as if this happens, it’s unlikely that it’ll feel like home.”

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