When you’re searching for your next home, your first port of call is often the property listing portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. As you know, when you arrive on these sites, you’re greeted with a vast swathe of homes, each vying for your attention, all calling out for you to take the next step and book a physical viewing.
As such, sellers and agents spend a lot of time making sure that their properties are attractive to potential buyers, trying to find new and snappy ways of making one property stand out from all the others. To do this, they make sure to emphasise the best parts of a home while ignoring or skirting over any aspects of the property which they fear might put off potential buyers.
To achieve this, to brush over the undesirable aspects of a home, there are a number of different methods agents can use. We call these ‘Listings Red Flags’ and, if you spot any, you should scrutinise the property with keen eye and be wary of everything you see.
Lack of photos
The first red flag is an absence or shortage of photos. What are they not showing you? If they were proud of the property, they would stick 15 or 20 pictures up there. So, by doing the opposite, you can be sure there is something they’re not excited for you to see.
Absence of outdoor photos
If they’re not showing you what the home looks like from the outside, they have made a conscious and tactical decision to leave that to your imagination. Again, you need to ask yourself why. It often means that the outside of the property is undesirable and unattractive. It might be that the roof tiles are falling off, or there is a big crack down the brickwork, or the immediate surrounding area is less-than-pretty. Whatever the reason, there is always a reason. Call the agent and find out exactly what it is.
Stretched or fisheye photos
If the photos look strangely elongated, stretched, or rounded, it means that the rooms are small and an attempt has been made to use photography techniques to make them appear bigger. You should refer to the floorplan to discover the true size.
After the photos, the floorplan is the most important part of a property listing – it enables viewers to understand the size, scale, and layout of the property and its rooms. If a floorplan is not provided, it means there is something about it that the agent doesn’t feel good about telling you. While this will rarely be a malicious omission, it may be that the only bathroom is downstairs, or the only toilet requires you to first go through the kitchen. Layout issues like this often put buyers off very quickly, so some agents and sellers will be reluctant to shout about them.
Look carefully at the photos: are the curtains always closed? This is a red flag. Why would they choose to block out all natural light? Usually, it means the view from the windows unappealing. It could be a busy A-road, an industrial park across the road, or construction site next door. Whatever the reason, you can be sure that the curtains would be open if there was anything good to see.
Unusually low asking price
If the property is on the market for a significantly lower price than similar properties in the same area, this is a red flag. It usually means that the property is in disarray, or that it has underlying structural issues. Agents don’t sell homes cheaply, they sell them for the market value. So, if it’s got a low price tag, there is always a reason.
The specific use of language in property listings can be a red flag, too. We’ve created a full glossary of common agent jargon which is used to tell you something without actually telling you it, if you know what we mean? Read our jargon dictionary.
If you’ve got a listings red flag which you think should be added to our list, let us know in the comments section below. Many thanks.