15 house buyer questions to ask before buying a house
According to this article, the average homebuyer in the UK makes a decision on whether to buy a home in just 8 minutes! Considering this is one of the biggest financial decisions you will probably make in your life, you might want to take a little longer to make sure it’s the right one.
The key to happy house hunting is preparation. It’s important that you ask the seller or estate agent as many questions as you can. But you might be wondering, “what questions should I ask when viewing a house?” This article with give you 15 questions, that will help you in your next move.
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. The answer should give 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. Is it the price, location or possible structural problems? If a previous sale has fallen through, the agent has a legal obligation to tell you why.
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. You might feel that these types of questions are a little too personal but 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?
It’s always recommended to have a full building survey on a property you’d like to buy. However, it is also 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 that they are aware of.
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, 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. A listing 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. This can give you a heads-up before making an offer, 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. This can become 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. 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 the 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.
10. What about energy efficiency?
Likewise, ask about average utility bills and work out if the running costs of the property are manageable. All properties should provide you with an EPC report. This will set out the energy efficiency of the property and what improvements are needed.
11. 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.
Check to see if the house next door has been subdivided into flats or a ‘house of multiple occupation’ (HMO). 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 of 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. Don’t forget to also open cupboards and try light switches. You may feel like you are going over the top, but like we said earlier, identifying problems early on can save you anguish in the long run.
14. Are there good local amenities?
Buying a house is not just about the bricks and mortar. Consider 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.
Guides such as The Sunday Time Best Place to Live can help. These take in account local amenities, school league tables, green space to rank cities, towns and villages across the UK.
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. Find out what type of building survey you need here or book your building survey today.