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10 key questions to ask when viewing a house

By Mark Langshaw

Published: 15th January 2019 Last updated: 13th February 2019
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An estate agent (or homeowner) is legally obliged to inform potential buyers of material information that may affect an average consumer’s transactional decision, not only to buy a property but even an omission that may affect a potential buyer’s decision to view a property.

Whilst this covers structural and environmental issues, it doesn’t necessarily provide you with any insight into why the homeowner is moving, why the house is priced at its current rate, how new the kitchen is etc.

There are many questions to ask when viewing a house that potential buyers don't think to ask, especially when it feels like you’ve just found the home of your dreams.

It can also feel awkward to ask a seller a lot of questions, but don’t forget you are about to make the biggest purchase of your life!

Knowing what questions to ask when viewing a house is vital if you want to go beyond a superficial view of the house.

Here are our top questions to ask at a house viewing...

Why is the owner selling?

If the homeowner is moving for a new job or needs a bigger house for their growing family, chances are they are motivated to sell their home quickly.

This puts you in a strong position, especially if you are a first-time buyer with no chain.

 

How long has the property been up for sale?

If a property has been on the market for a long time, it may be a sign that there are issues that have put off other buyers.

Additionally, have any offers have been made and accepted before, and if so, why didn’t the sale go through?

 

When do the sellers have to move out?

This information will help you plan the timings of your move. Additionally, you could push for a discount if the move is going to take longer than you had hoped for.

 

If they have found a property to buy, how long is the chain above them?

With nearly a third of chains collapsing, the bigger (and more complex) the chain, more more chances there are for this to occur.

If there is a large chain, do they have any options for moving out and selling you the home regardless (e.g. renting, family etc.)?

Here are some useful tips to stop a chain collapsing.

 

What is included in the sale?

It is always a good idea to clarify what is and is not included in the sale. Are they going to leave behind any upholstery or curtains, is the garden shed or greenhouse included?

Get everything in writing and ensure there is an agreed inventory that sets out what will be done with the fixtures and fittings.

Simply raising the question may result in you being left items that they would have normally taken with them.

 

Which rooms have had any recent work?

A lick of paint here and there is fine, but you want to know about work that required a professional e.g. electrician, plumber or builder.

This is especially important for the kitchen and bathrooms (where water and gas are involved), loft conversions or work that required planning permission.

If they have been renovated recently, is the work still within its guarantee?

 

What type of boiler does the house have?

Your boiler is the unsung hero of the home. You only notice it when it isn’t working and you’ve got no heating or hot water.

Boilers require regular maintenance to operate efficiently, and older boilers have a tendency to stop working on the coldest day of the year!

  • What type of boiler is it? Ideally you want a combi-boiler
  • How old is the boiler?
  • When was the boiler last professionally serviced?
  • Does the boiler have an active guarantee?

What are the neighbours like?

Your neighbours can have a huge impact on your quality of life. The seller may be reluctant to inform you of noisy neighbours, but you’ll get a sense of what to expect simply from their family make-up/stage in life.

For example,

  • Having a retiree either side is unlikely to mean banging parties every night
  • A dog is going to bark a lot
  • A trampoline in the garden means young children

Another easy tip is to visit the property at different times of the day. Pay attention to what is happening at nearby houses.

 

If there is a garden - How much work/maintenance is required?

How many hours do the current homeowners put in to maintaining their garden?

Even the simplest of gardens demands a huge amount of attention during the spring and summer. Expect to be mowing the lawn at least every other week.

 

What is the area like during rush hour?

Whether you commute to work via car or public transport, don’t underestimate the drag a long commute can have on your quality of life.

Tiring, stressful and  repetitive, it can soon affect your life outside of work. You may have found your dream home, but is it worth adding more time to your commute?

You can double check any answer with Google Maps' useful feature that allows you to see how long a journey would typically be on a certain day and time.

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