Looking for your first house is a really exciting experience, but it can also be a daunting one given that it is usually the biggest and most expensive purchase of your life to date. There are numerous considerations, negotiations and deliberations that need to take place in the lead up to putting in an offer, so we’ve put together a strong list of 10 questions that you can ask your estate agent to arm you for your journey ahead and ensure you are aware of the situation surrounding your potential purchase as you browse.
How long has the house been on the market?
The answer to this question can indicate many possibilities. If the property has been on the market for a long time, why is that? Is there a problem with the house? Is it priced too high? Would the seller now be willing to accept a lower offer? Will the seller only accept asking price and is in no rush to sell? One little question can teach you so much about the house you are viewing, so it’s a great one to slip in as number one.
Why is the owner selling the property?
This should be a fairly easy question for the agent to answer. Downsizing, upsizing and relocation are common reasons to move. Divorce or separation can be another reason, and if this is the case, you’ll need to ensure that all of the relevant financial arrangements have been fully settled before you enter the purchasing process. This question leads nicely onto number three.
Are the sellers in a chain?
Have the sellers secured their next property? This is a very important piece of information to obtain as a long chain (where each member of the property chain is relying on the seller of their next property to secure a new place) really means that there are more possibilities of your purchase falling through or taking much longer to move through to completion.
How long has the owner lived here?
If they haven’t lived there long why is that? It might even be worth probing further as to how long the previous owners lived there too. A string of short term ownerships could raise alarm bells about the property.
What do you know about the neighbours?
A great question to ask, and hopefully the neighbours are not the reason for the seller moving home! Why not go round and introduce yourselves to your potential new neighbours – it could be a good opportunity to ask about the area, nearest shops, sports centres etc too.
What is included in the sale?
Before you put an offer in, it would be a good idea to outline exactly what is included in the price and be aware of what the current owners plan on leaving behind or taking with them. This could include things such as garden sheds or buildings, land or window fixtures and fittings to name but a few.
How old is the boiler?
Be sure to check how old the boiler in the property is, whether it has been serviced, and if it will need replacing soon. This could be a big cost to foot upon moving in and a concern if you are planning to pour all of your savings into the deposit for your home.
When was the electric last rewired?
If you’re looking to purchase a slightly older property, it may be worth checking when the electric was last rewired. Again, this can be a costly and disruptive process and you may want to take this information into consideration before making a purchase, or use it to negotiate on the price at the very least.
Have there been any major renovations or decoration done to the building recently?
If the required information or planning permission was not obtained for an extension, for example, you could have to tear it down. This can also apply to garden buildings or sheds and fences or walls. Equally, it would be wise to find out about recent renovations if you do not intend to have a full structural survey completed and to ask to see invoices or guarantees from the building contractor to cover yourself.
Has there been much interest in the property? If so, what was the offer and why was it turned down?
Always a strong question to end on. You can also use your intuition to understand the popularity of the property by booking a prime viewing time such as a Saturday morning and seeing if people are viewing it before/after you.
That rounds up our top ten questions to ask at your next house viewing! One final tip? If the answers to any of these questions raise any concerns, it might be worth asking to confirm the details via email. That way you will have a paper trail that you can produce if required moving forwards in the process.