Going out and buying a house is a daunting prospect. Even if it’s not your first time, it’s probably been a while since you last put yourself through the hassle of moving house. For most people, a home is usually the single most expensive they will ever make.
With that in mind, it may surprise you to learn that, on average, it takes us around 25 minutes of viewing a property to make a decision that we want to buy it. As experts in the mortgage market, Think Plutus are very familiar with the important considerations when choosing a viable home to buy. As such, we have compiled this list of the essential questions to must ask when viewing a house.
Why is the current owner selling?
If the seller is relocating for a new job or looking to upsize for a growing family, they have motivation to make a quick sale. Knowing this can put you in a stronger position as the buyer, particularly if you are a first-time buyer.
When does the seller need to move out?
Learning this information will help you plan more efficiently for the timing of the move. If everything is going to take longer than you hoped for, you might even be able to land a little discount for waiting!
How long has the property been on the market?
When a property has been for sale for more than three months, there is usually a reason. It’s possible there is a problem that you didn’t notice which other buyers spotted. When a survey is conducted, potential problems will be revealed, but it’s advisable to ask first before you get too attached to the property. You should also find out if the property is listed or in a conservation area.
How long is the chain above the seller?
It’s not uncommon for chains to collapse, and this is more likely to happen with bigger, more complex chains. If a large chain is involved, does the seller have other options for moving out and selling the home, such as renting or living with family?
Has the property attracted much interest?
If you are really drawn to a property, it isn’t helpful to make assumptions about who else feels the same way. Ask about the number of viewings and any offers that have been made. It can be helpful to view a home during a busy time, like a weekend morning, to see if other people are viewing the home before and after you. Estate agents will usually tell you if you ask whether offers have been made, though they cannot disclose amounts.
How long were the owners living there?
If the owners are selling after a short period, why is that? Perhaps they just wanted to move to a different area or a larger property, but there could be more serious reasons that you need to know as a buyer. Sellers have a legal duty to disclose disputes with neighbours. Be sure to find out how long the owner has lived at the property as a quick move can be a strong indicator of issues.
How is the local area?
You’ll want to know about crime rates. You may want to learn about local schools. You should also ask about the neighbours. One good question to ask the estate agent is “Would you be happy to live here?” Asking this question should not preclude you doing your own research – location is important because while a house can be renovated, it cannot be moved to a different area. If you would have to make journeys to/from home during the rush hour, use Google Maps to see how the traffic is during peak times – a bad commute can make life far more stressful than it needs to be.
What is included in the sale?
It’s always wise to be clear on what is and isn’t included in the sale. Will any upholstery or curtains be left? Is the greenhouse or the garden shed part of the deal? Get this information in writing with an agreed inventory that details the fixtures and fittings that will be included. By raising the question, you may even be left items that would otherwise have been taken.
Have any major renovations been undertaken recently?
If you aren’t having a complete structural survey undertaken, you need to try and find out about recent work and ask for evidence in the form of builder’s receipts, invoices and guarantees. Look for recent planning permission, because if a recent extension was not permitted then it may have to be removed. Fresh paint on the walls and ceilings could be covering cracks or damp, and rugs could be placed to hide unsightly issues. Learn how to sniff out damp!
How much will bills cost?
Learn about council tax and seek evidence of utility bills from the owners or even the estate agent. Ask what type of boiler is present and make sure it is in good working order.
What is the water pressure like?
Water pressure and plumbing need to be checked when you are assessing whether a property is right for you. Imagine waking up to your first morning in your new home and discovering the shower is a mere trickle. Check the taps yourself, and the shower too, if possible. These issues may not be a dealbreaker for you but they should factor into your decision-making.
If a garden is present, how high-maintenance is it?
How much time do the owners have to put into maintaining the garden? Even relatively simple garden can take a lot of care and attention to maintain in the spring and summer months. You may have to mow the lawn at least once a fortnight!
Asking these simple questions can help you develop a clearer picture of whether a property is right for you. Remember, this is a big decision, so you must not leave any stone unturned when making your decision. Viewings are a superb opportunity to learn as much as possible about a potential home so make the most of them by asking these questions.