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Love thy Neighbour ? keeping up with the Jones ? & what estate agents should be telling you !
Research from Churchill Home Insurance highlights how we isolate ourselves from our closest neighbours, with 17 per cent of people admitting they have not spoken to any of their neighbours in over a month, rising to three in ten (29 per cent) of 18-34s.
Despite often living just a few meters away, over half (51 per cent) of those with neighbours admit they cannot recall their first names and 70 per cent are unaware of their full names.
The findings highlight a lack of familiarity for those living close to us, as 36 per cent say they would not even recognise their neighbours in person. Almost three quarters (70 per cent) did not know what their next door neighbours did for a living, 61 per cent were unable to recall how long their neighbours have been in residence and over half (53 per cent) had no knowledge of whether their neighbours rented or owned their homes. A further 44 per cent were unable to recall whether their neighbours have children and 47 per cent said the same about pets.
Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance, said:“Relationships with our neighbours have changed significantly over the years because the way we live, work and socialise has evolved. We move homes more frequently, spend a lot less time communicating face to face and are more cautious about who we welcome into our homes. As a result, we know very little about our neighbours, as we all get on with our own busy lives.
“The lack of trust and familiarity between neighbours does have implications. People may be less willing and less able to watch out for each other - realising there is a stranger on a neighbour’s property is very difficult if we cannot recognise the person who lives there. Home insurance is vital should the worst happen, however, maintaining a good relationship with those we live closest to can make our communities a safer and more sociable place to live.”
Highlighting a stark absence in neighbourhood friendships, Churchill’s research reveals that less than a third (32 per cent) of us would call our neighbours friends, falling to 18 per cent for those aged 18-34. In fact, 13 per cent of people say they distrust, dislike or deliberately avoid their next door neighbours. For younger residents, this figure increases to 20 per cent.
Whilst the research indicates that younger people are significantly more isolated from those they share a street or building with, they are also more likely to have scoured social networking sites and search engines to find information about their neighbours. On average, eight per cent of all UK adults admit to having done this, compared to 15 per cent of those aged 18-34.
Things people do not know about their neighbours
% of people who do not know this about one or all of their neighbours
18 - 34s
What they do for a living
What they look like
How long they have lived at the property
Whether they own or rent their home
Whether they have any children
Whether they have pets
Source: Churchill Home Insurance, 2013
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% inquired about issues such as noise complaints or anti-social behaviour.
Once an issue did come to light, sellers were required to drop the asking price by an average of £7,000 in England and Wales and £6,400 in Scotland.
The research further revealed that just one in five estate agents asks sellers if they have had issues with their council and 15% of these would pass this information on to the prospective buyer.
Churchill home insurance head Martin Scott 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:
Don't be afraid to ask questions: When you meet the estate agent or seller inquire about issues such as past/ongoing disputes and the neighbourhood.
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.
Research the local area: Talk to neighbours, look at crime statistics and visit the local shops/restaurants to understand more about your new potential home.
Floods, pollution and planning: Check out online resources such as the Environment Agency (England and Wales) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for information on flooding and environmental information such as pollution. Get in touch with the local planning authority to find out more information about forthcoming developments in the area.
Only work with reputable service providers: Check that you can trust your estate agent and solicitors/conveyancers by making sure they are members of a professional organisation or association and have positive online ratings or recommended by friends/family.