I suppose to some extent we all do it. We have a bit of time to kill and browse around shops when we have no intention of buying anything.
Some people are the same with cars.
They troll the ads in the back of the local paper and Autotrader to keep an eye on the cars, prices and availability and to dream about what they may do if their six numbers came up and they were trying to decide between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
Unfortunately, property is no different.
Here in the UK it is something of a national obsession perhaps second only to the weather with many a conversation taking place about house prices, estate agents and speculation as to whether things are getting better or worse.
There are a significant minority of people who take this a step further and make a hobby of contacting estate agents, viewing properties and putting in offers.
Visit any estate agent and (off the record of course) they can probably name two or three local people at least who are well known for wasting their time and that of property sellers.
The same old names register themselves on mailing lists, telephone for viewings and ask complex questions about the property, the lease, the maintenance arrangements, the neighbours, planning or indeed anything else - soaking up a lot of time and effort and then finding a reason not to buy at all.
What You Can Do To Avoid Home Buyers Wasting Your Time
Use An Estate Agent
If you try to sell privately, you will not know the names of the people in your town that have a property viewing hobby, but it is likely that your estate agent will, and will be able to bat away the enquiry when it comes in.
Check The Finance
Before someone views, you need to know that they will be in a position to proceed. You should therefore obtain proof of funds i.e. a letter from a mortgage broker or bank stating that they will lend them X pounds or if they are cash, you can ask to see proof.
Many a sale has fallen through at the last minute because it turns out that a cash buyer also needed a mortgage, that cash funds were tied up in shares which they were unwilling to sell or in 90-day notice accounts. Always check.
Find Out Their Motivation
Try to get a bit of background about why they are interested in your property, do they have children at the local school, relatives nearby or do they work in the area? A good local reason for buying will usually indicate that they are not going to waste your time deliberately.
Unfortunately, you will almost certainly have to do a number of viewings in order to achieve a sale. A normal ratio being 10 to 15 viewings for each sale, but at least by following these simple guidelines you will avoid your local property hobbyist!