A good estate agent should be ready and willing to answer these questions for you. Our motto is, ‘If we know, we will tell you and if we don’t know, we will do our utmost to find out’. The key to a good relationship with your estate agent is transparency and honesty. We think it’s important to tell our clients what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. It’s better for everyone in the long run and yields much better results.
How long has the house been on the market?
If the house has been on the market for three months or more, then you need to ask why. Is there a problem with it that you haven’t discovered yet, but others have spotted?
Surveys will discover any potential issues but it’s better to find these out before you get too attached to the idea of buying a property.
You could also ask how many people have viewed the property, or if any offers have been made.
It’s a good idea to gauge the popularity of a property in order to make the right offer, if you decide to do so. It’ll also give you an indication of how fast you’ll need to move if you’re keen on the property.
Why is the owner selling the property?
This is vital; it could be that the owner is simply moving to a new area of upgrading or downsizing. However, there might be issues such as proximity to noisy roads or disputes with neighbours that might factor into your decision to buy.
It’s also worth asking how long the owner has lived there as a quick move might indicate that not all is well.
What’s the area like?
Doing your research about the area, including quizzing your agent, is vital when buying a home. How's the public transport links? What’s the proximity to schools? Are there noisy pubs and bars on the doorstep?
All of these things help build a picture of what it might be like to live in the property and should be carefully considered before you buy.
Have there been any major renovations or extensions done to the property?
If so, make sure you see a copy of the planning permission. If the renovations were done without proper permission you may be liable to tear them down after you move in!
How's the water pressure?
This may sound silly, but it’s something that might make a big difference to your day to day life in your new home. Test it for yourself by turning on the taps when you look around or ask your agent to do so on your behalf!
Is the property leasehold or freehold?
Knowing exactly what you’re getting for your money is very important when it comes to buying a house. If you’re buying a leasehold property you need to know how long is left on the lease and you might want to know if there’s an option to buy a share of the freehold too.
For more information on the difference between leasehold and freehold, check out our guide here.
Is there any evidence of damp?
When viewing a property look for clues such as peeling wallpaper, a musty smell, discoloured walls and condensation that could indicate a problem with damp in the property. It’s also worth asking your agent if there have been any issues for the previous owner.
It’s also worth questioning the reason behind any recent decorating as a fresh coat of paint could be covering up a problem with damp. Hopefully the seller is just sprucing up their home ahead of sale but it’s worth looking into!
How's the mobile and broadband service?
Especially given so many of us work from home these days, it’s never been more important to check what providers cover your area and what the broadband speeds are.
How old is the boiler?
The best way to do this is to ask your agent to get the serial number off the boiler for you. This will be unique to the boiler so you can easily check how old it is.
Replacing boilers can be costly however can save you a lot of money in energy bills in the long run. However, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to replace the boiler before you make an offer.
Are there restrictions on expansion?
If you’re looking to make a property your own, you’ll want to check that you’re able to make the changes you want before you buy. Talk to your estate agent and get details from the owner about any planning permission they have put in before and what happened as a result.
Have there been any boundary disputes with the neighbours?
You may not know this but it is not the responsibility of the seller to disclose any boundary disputes so it is really important to ask.
Boundary disputes can be tricky to resolve as its often difficult to establish exactly where a boundary lies. Requesting a copy of the title plan from the land registry can help you clear up exactly where the boundaries to the property are and talking to your estate agent can help you make sure there are no long running boundary sagas that you’ll inherit when you take on the property.
Photographs and staged properties can be misleading so it’s always best to ask your agent exactly what is included. Things like wall mounts, mirrors and light fixtures may well be removed before you move in.
If you need more advice on what to look for when you're buying a home, take a look at our other guides or get in touch with us to chat with our friendly team.