So you’ve got a good idea on the property type you’re looking for, and you’ve got a couple of viewings lined up (don’t be one of the 9% of people who don’t view the property before buying!). Here’s our super-quick guide to asking the right questions - and to making sure you’re armed with all the information you need before you leave:
- How long has the property been on the market? A long time can indicate problems that are delaying a sale.
- What moveables and white goods are included in the sale? You’ll have to budget for these items if they’re not included.
- Has there been any renovations/major construction works on the property?
- If it’s an old property, how old is the boiler and when was it last inspected? You don’t want to move in and find you’ve got to replace the boiler at the cost of thousands.
- Is there a loft? Something lots of us forget to ask, but a loft space can be a huge bonus, particularly for storage or conversion purposes.
- Is the property a listed building, or in a conservation area? If so, this might affect whether you can make changes.
- Are the plumbing and electrics in good shape? Have there ever been issues with either? Does the property need a rewire? Will you need to put in a new plumbing system?
- What’s the average cost of monthly fuel bills? Is the property expensive to heat? Is it insulated? EPC ratings will help you when it comes to clarity around how energy efficient the property is, and any upgrades to insulation, heating, boilers, windows etc that you might have to revisit when you move.
- What’s the area like? You’ll already have a good idea before viewing, but it’s good to get a first-hand account. Is the train station nearby or will the bus get you there faster? What about schools - what’s the commute like? Traffic?
- What do you need to be aware of traffic-wise? Any parking issues? What’s rush hour like? What’s the traffic like outside the property during busy times? Will you be arriving home from work every night to spend 20 minutes looking for a parking space?
- What’s mobile and broadband coverage like? More often than not, in the city this won’t be a problem … however if you’re buying in a rural area, network coverage and broadband speed can often be slow, and sometimes non-existent.
- What’s the crime rate? High or low, you should do your homework. You don’t want to be burgled the day you move in!
- What are the local amenities and are they any good? Dining, entertainment, shopping - on your doorstep, or some distance away?
- Are there railway lines nearby? Is the property under a flight path? While others won’t find these an issue, it can be make or break for some.
- Has there been much interest in the property? There’s no point leaving, loving the property, then spending the next few weeks wondering how many others have viewed it, or if any offers are pending.
- How long have they lived there and why are they moving? Maybe it’s problem neighbours, maybe there’s a housing development being planned on the other side of the road, or maybe they’ve just found a better property. Whatever the reason, you need to know what it is.
- Has there ever been any trouble with neighbours? Don’t be shy to ask about the neighbours - you’ll want to ensure you’re not moving into a property with problem neighbours.
With so many questions to ask, and lots on your mind during the viewing, making sure you’ve asked all the questions you want to may prove a challenge - so going back for a second viewing is usually a no-brainer. There will always be questions you missed, or something you didn’t even think about first time round. A second viewing will confirm first impressions - or change them entirely!
Whatever you do, keep in mind that as a potential purchaser, you’re more than justified in asking as many questions as you need to - and ensuring you get the answers. Only once you’re satisfied you’ve got clarity around everything you need will you feel confident about saying ‘yes’ - or ‘no’! - to the property you’ve got your heart set on.
Next time, is there damp? How old did you say that boiler is? Did I see a loose roof tile on the way in? We’ll be sharing our tips on what you need to be looking for during your first viewing of a property. Don’t miss it!