Buying a house is one of, if not, the most important purchasing decisions that you are ever going to make in your life. So when it comes to viewing a house, you need to be prepared. You need to do your background research about the area and be ready to ask the estate agent the right questions so you can make informed choices. It can be easy to get emotionally attached to a house early on, but logic needs to prevail in these situations. Remember, you are investigating whether a particular house is suitable for you to live in. Here are the key questions you need to ask to find that out:
Why is the owner selling?
The circumstances surrounding the owner’s decision to sell are important to find out if you can. The owner may be selling to move to a bigger house to accommodate a larger family or they may be moving because they have changed jobs and need to relocate. If there are other factors at play like issues with the house’s location or neighbours then this should be a cause for concern.
How long have the current owners lived there?
Identifying how long the current owners have lived in the house can give you an idea of whether it is a good buy. If the owners are moving out after less than five years then you should be asking why. Most likely it is an issue with the house or the neighbourhood. Find out if the property has changed hands a lot in recent years. This will further underline any problems.
How long has the house been on the market?
If the house has been on the market for a long period of time, then that typically suggests that the asking price is too high. The longer it has been on the market without an offer, the more likely a lower offer would be accepted by the seller. However, the price may not be the only reason why a house has been on the market for a long time. There may be some issues with the house or local area others have spotted that you may have missed.
Have the sellers found another home?
This is a key indicator of whether the sellers want a quick sale. If they have bought a new home, then they will likely have to move out relatively quickly and, unless they are extremely well off, they will be looking to sell as soon as possible. The advantage you have with this is that the sellers will be willing to settle for a lower price. Conversely, if the sellers haven’t found another home, then you have to wait around until they do and there is a risk that the sale could fall through.
What’s the neighbourhood like?
This is a very broad question and you should try to find out about things like the neighbours, local shops, schools, transport links, crime rate in the area etc. The estate agent is legally required to disclose information about troublesome neighbours if asked about it. For other questions, they will probably tell you what you want to hear i.e. pleasant, safe neighbourhood because after all it is their sole job to sell the house to you. You should also do your own research into this.
Have any offers been made?
Estate agents may tell you how many offers have been made, but likely won’t specify how much money has been offered. This is a good way to gauge the interest in the property. If offers have been made, then interest is obviously high and you may have to pay above the asking price to compete. But if no offers have been made and the house has been on the market for a while, then you may have more room to negotiate.
Is this included in the sale?
Clarifying exactly what is included in the sale is a question that often gets overlooked. Fixtures and fittings like cabinets and cupboards are naturally expected to come with the purchase of the house, but this isn’t always the case. Confirm what is included with the property and more importantly, get it confirmed in writing. This also includes the ownership of the surrounding land like who owns a parking space, shed etc.
Has any major work on the building been carried out?
You need to know about any building work or major repairs that have taken place. If any repairs or renovations have been made, find out if they have been carried out by a licensed contractor. Ask to see receipts or guarantees. Inadequate building work will cost you a lot of money to repair in the near future.
Is the property listed?
According to Historic England, a property is listed “when it is of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worth protecting”. Generally, the older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. If the property is listed, then you will be heavily restricted in terms of what changes you are able to make to the outside and sometimes the inside of the house. For example, you probably wouldn’t be able to have an extension, which is something you will need to factor in if you would like the option to do this in the future.
How much is the council tax and utility bills?
Council tax is collected by the local council to pay for services in the local area. The amount is based on the estimated value of the property and the number of people living in it. These monthly bills add up and you need to make sure you work out if you will comfortably be able to keep up with these payments on top of the mortgage or rent.
What is the minimum price that will be accepted?
It might sound cheeky to ask this question, but asking if you can make an offer lower than the asking price will save you a lot of money. There is no harm in asking. The estate agent wants to sell the house because it is their job and if necessary, they will sell at a lower price.
Of course, there are plenty more questions you may wish to ask about the more intricate details of the home like the energy efficiency, taps, boiler etc. Considering you’re looking to buy a house, no question is a stupid question. It’s in your best interests to obtain as much information as possible before making a decision to buy.
And remember, you aren’t limited to asking just the estate agent. If you have any doubts after the viewing, then don’t be afraid to ask around the local neighbourhood. By doing this, you’ll not only get answers to your questions (hopefully), but you’ll also get a taste of what the community in the area is like. You may even want to try to get in touch with the sellers directly to get more honest answers about the home. Estate agents aren’t keen on you doing this, but they can’t stop you.
MoveNow Properties specialises in selling and lettings throughout the Wakefield district in West Yorkshire. If you’re interested in buying a property in the area the get in touch. Call 01924249349 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org