Whether you’re a first time buyer, or you’ve moved house a few times before, having a list of questions to ask is important. This is your opportunity to find out about the history of the property, and raise questions about any potential problems you can see.
Why is the owner selling the property?
This can be a good way of digging deeper to find out if there are any underlying problems. Of course, reasons could include moving overseas or wanting to have a bigger family home, but you can never be too careful.
Is the property structurally sound?
As you’re viewing the house, keep an eye out for cracks in the walls, signs of mould or damp, signs of rot (especially if the window frames are wooden), and cracks in the ceiling. See if you can feel any drafts coming in through the windows or under doors, and ask about the plumbing.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is any condensation between double-glazing panels. If the property smells musty, this could be another sign of damp.
Similarly, if the walls have been recently painted, this could have been done to cover up any damp or mould. Keep a mental note of any problems that you see, and then ask when you’ve finished viewing the property.
What is included in the sale?
This is important if there are sheds and other external buildings in the garden. Ask about fittings and fixtures, ovens, lightbulbs, etc. Another good question to ask is about the property boundaries – especially if you are looking to extend at some point in the future.
How long has the property been on the market?
If the property has been on the market for quite some time, this could reflect an issue with either the house or the area. Ask the agent why they think it isn’t selling, and enquire about the local area. Also enquire about the local housing market, have prices fallen or increased dramatically recently?
How long have the owners lived there?
This is a good opportunity to find out if the property has stayed within one family for years, or if it has frequently changed hands. If it has changed hands numerous times, ask why. Are the neighbours noisy? How’s the parking at the property? It may even be worth seeing if you can contact the previous owners and ask them directly.
How much will your bills be?
The property may be within budget but check how much the current council tax is, and the monthly water and energy bills. If the property is old, there may be problems with insulation which will lead to higher heating bills in the winter.
What is the minimum price the sellers will accept?
Asking this question could potentially save you thousands. Ask if there have been other offers on the property. While they may not tell you an exact figure, they may be able to drop some hints.
When do the sellers move out?
You don’t want to be in a situation where you sell your property, but the sellers won’t move out of theirs for a few months. Asking this question will ensure that you won’t find yourself between houses, and you’ll have time to prepare if need be.
Which direction does the property face?
If lighting is an important factor in your decision, ask what direction the property faces. If you like the sun waking you up in the morning, then you’d want a house facing the south-east. Determine which rooms you’ll spend the most time in (bedroom, sitting room, kitchen etc.), and find out which direction they face. Another thing to watch out for are any tall trees or other houses which could block the sunlight.
What’s the local area like?
This is your opportunity to find out about the local schools, transport, crime rate, and amenities. If you’re in a rural area, find out how far away the closest school, bus stop, and supermarket is. Find out how far away you are from the closest city centre, or from your place of work. If you’re in an urban area, visit the property at different times of day to see what the traffic is like. Noise pollution and light pollution can be a serious deal-breaker when buying a new house, so check before you buy! If there’s a streetlight outside the bedroom window, or if a noisy pub is located close to the property, then it’s better you know before you buy.
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