These 15 house buyer questions should help in deciding on your next move.
House hunting can be such a stressful time that it’s easy to forget some of the key things you need to know before making that leap. But if you do, you could find yourself stuck with a host of problems that are difficult and expensive to solve.
When you view a house, always go prepared with a list of questions to ask the estate agent. Some will be suggested by the information you already have about the property, but there are some basic things you should always ask when viewing any house.
1. How long has the house been on the market and has it had much interest?
This could be the most important question you ask an estate agent, giving you an early indication as to how desirable the property is, if the asking price is appropriate or if there are any underlying problems turning buyers off.
If the house has been on the market for six months or more, ask the agent why, thinking about asking price, location or possible structural problems.
2. Why are the current owners moving?
If the owners are moving because of problems with the property, it should ring alarm bells in your mind. Don’t worry, you’re not being nosy – it’s better to know if there are any issues with the house before you become too attached to it.
3. Has the house had any major building work recently?
While it’s recommended to have a full building survey on a property you’d like to buy, it’s worth finding out if any building work has been completed recently too. Was there a particular reason it needed to be done and will it impact on you in the future?
Remember, the previous owners won’t be liable for any problems the house incurs once you’ve completed the deal. By law, estate agents must tell you any ongoing issues with the house.
4. How long have the previous owners lived there?
If the house has changed owners several times in only a few years, do some digging as to why. In contrast however, if the house has been occupied by the same owner for several decades, make sure you get a thorough survey on the property – the longer the owner has been there, the higher the risk of structural problems going unnoticed or being put off.
5. Is the property listed?
If you’d like to make some large structural renovations to the property, you need to find out if it’s listed as this could have a significant effect on your plans.
This will be answered during the building survey process, but ask the agent during the viewing too, leaving you with all the necessary information before you make that big decision.
6. Is the property part of a chain?
It’s important to find out the motivations of the seller; have they found their next property? If so, they could want to sell their current house quickly, making them open to accepting lower offers.
However, if they haven’t it could result in you waiting some time in a chain which can be a long process. Use the information on the current owners’ situation to help inform your decision.
7. Does the area have any hidden issues to be aware of?
Imagine finding the house of your dreams, sealing the deal and later discovering the location is unsafe, has huge congestion problems or on street parking is a nightmare.
Investigating the location is crucial before committing to buying a house. Drive to the house during rush hour and ask neighbours for their opinion on the area. Subsidence can be a difficult and expensive problem to solve. It’s always a good idea to ask if there are any problems in the area and your building surveyor can help you with expert local knowledge.
8. What’s included in the sale?
Get all the information on what you’ll be getting for your money before committing to buying the house. For instance, will any white goods, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, be included in the price? Or what about a garden shed?
The outcome could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run, or leave you with some additional costs to factor into your total budget.
9. What are the bills like?
In order to qualify for your mortgage, you’ll have drawn up a household budget taking into account your new mortgage payments. An important outgoing related to your new home is council tax, and knowing the band the property comes under could have a significant effect on how you budget once you’ve moved into the property.
If the property is perfect but the council tax payment is higher than you’ve paid before, you may have to cut back on other outgoings. Alternatively, if you’ll be paying less council tax than before, you may be able to put extra savings away for the future.
Likewise, ask about average utility bills and work out if the running costs of the property are manageable.
10. Who are the neighbours?
The house may be a dream, but if the people next door are noisy, anti-social or just generally difficult it could spoil your enjoyment of living there. As well as asking, you can also try visiting the area at different times to get an impression of what the neighbourhood is like.
11. What are the properties next door?
This is another one where you could have the perfect house but what happens on the other side of the wall turns it into a nightmare. Check to see if the house next door has been subdivided into flats, in which case there could be tenants moving in and out all the time, and your bedroom could be next to someone’s living room.
12. Which way does the garden face?
You may have pleasant visions of sitting out on a summer’s evening sipping a cool glass if wine. But that’s not likely to happen if you have a north facing garden. If you’re not sure which way the garden faces, ask.
13. Can I try the taps?
Not one that most people would think of, but trying the taps could throw up any unexpected problems. An en-suite in a loft conversion, for example, might not have hot water because of difficulties with the plumbing.
14. Are there good local amenities?
Buying a house is not just about the bricks and mortar, but about the local community, shops, restaurants, pubs, facilities, schools and much more.
If the area is new to you, quiz your estate agent and drive or walk around the vicinity to find out what will be available to you. After all, your quality of life outside of your house will help you prosper within it.
15. Is there room for negotiation?
A range of reasons can give you the opportunity to haggle over the house price, from whether the owners have found their next property to the time spent on the market. A detailed building survey will often include a cost schedule for any major repairs highlighted by your building surveyor. This can give you a solid basis on which to negotiate.
When it comes to putting in an offer, don’t be afraid to barter with the seller’s agent if you feel the house isn’t worth the asking price, but be clear about your interest in the property from the outset. Asking these 15 house buyer questions will leave the seller and agent in no doubt that you are a serious buyer. Armed with a RICS approved Building Survey & you will be in an even stronger position to find your perfect dream home.Click for a Quick Building Survey Quote