Key Questions To Ask At A Property Viewing
When you go to a property viewing, you should create a list of things to look out for as you go around, and tick them off one by one. These are discussed in other articles here at My First Property, so instead of looking into those in detail here, we will instead focus on the actual questions you should ask - things that you can't just find out yourself (eg you can find out if there is a phone signal in each room by taking your phone out in each room and checking - those sort of questions are not the focus of this article).
You should focus on asking the estate agent the more interesting questions that you won't know the answer to just by inspection. For instance, it can be illuminating to find out the owner's motivation for selling - clearly the estate agent won't tell you it is because they can't stand the neighbours, but might give away other information that might indicate for instance that they want a quick sale because they inherited it and just want to realise the cash, for instance. If the seller hasn't actually been living there, they may be less attached to it and therefore less focused on realising a particular value for what was their home.
It is also useful to know how long the current owner has been there (this may be something you can find out yourself if the estate agent doesn't know - if the previous sale was registered with the Land Registry then you should be able to find it online for free - and you can also find the price the house sold for, too, very useful stuff indeed!) Also this log will tell you if the house has sold several times since 1995 - if it has changed hands a lot then you will want to consider why that is.
It is also worth finding out how long the property has been on the market - if for a while then it might imply the price is too high, and that therefore you could get in with a fairly low offer and the owner might still bite your hand off.
You should ask about the boundaries of the property, as things are not always as they seem. Who owns the fences and whose duty is it to maintain them. You should ensure you have a clear indication of what is and isn't included in the sale. Usually homes are sold unfurnished, but occasionally fixtures and fittings are included, or can be included subject to negotiation, so it's worth to check.
It's also good to ask what offers have come in so far - obviously this might reveal minimal information but occasionally an estate will let slip little snippets - if you don't ask, you don't know. Also find out what council tax band it is in.
You can also ask how old the property is, if major work has been done, about the boiler: when it was last serviced; you can ask about the windows (double-glazed or not); about the roof and drains and guttering and of course about the neighbours.
Whilst many estate agents will answer vaguely or just say they don't know, sometimes you will get useful information - so it is always important to ask. Be as nosy as you like at a property viewing and don't feel bad about it - you are about to spend a huge amount of money on your first ever property - so you need to know as much as you can after all.Last update: 28 Mar 2015
More first-time house buying articles:
- What is a mortgage adviser?
- All you need to know about mortgages
- The Downside of Renting versus Buying
- First Time Buyers Guide
- What is the cost of a house survey?