There are many things to ask when viewing a house, ranging from looking for signs of subsidence and damp, through to checking the water pressure and whether the windows open and close easily – all indications of the general condition of the property.
But there are some questions to ask when looking at a house that won’t come up in the survey, and the only place you’re going to get a direct answer is from the selling agent.
We’ve put together this Questions to Ask when Buying a House Checklist to cover seven key issues that you should always remember to query.
Remember, this information can be crucial to completing the purchase. By ensuring that you cover these seven key things to ask when viewing a house, you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to complete, pull out, or renegotiate your offer on better terms.
So what makes the shortlist? Here’s our first critical question to ask when buying a house…
‘Deliverable’ is another word for whether or not the vendor is serious about selling, which makes it the first and most important question to ask when buying a house.
The agent should have a good idea of whether the sale is likely to complete, or if the vendor is just exploring the market value of the property or trying to drive interest towards other properties in their portfolio.
It’s better for the agent if the sale goes through without any problems – so this is one question where an honest answer is in everyone’s best interests.
There are several reasons why this is a good question to ask when buying a house:
While the agent’s answer may be quite general and avoid disclosing too many personal details, it’s still worth including this one on your Questions to Ask when Buying a House Checklist as anything you do find out is likely to be particularly helpful.
If possible, find out if the vendor is working to a deadline, either because they are planning to move house once the sale completes, or because they need the funds to reinvest into their next refurbishment.
A lot of property deals fall through because the timescales of the vendor and buyer don’t align – especially if you need to have an offer accepted before you can raise the funds to complete the purchase.
By making this one of your first questions to ask when looking at a house, you arm yourself with an understanding of the vendor’s expectations, and might even be able to renegotiate the asking price for a faster (or in some cases, slower) completion date.
Check whether the property is listed with any other agents – and whether you are dealing directly with the primary agent.
If you’re viewing through a sub-agent, it’s likely that you’ll have less opportunity to contact the vendor directly with any technical queries.
You might even find that your offer is rejected due to the sub-agent’s fee making it unfavourable, whereas the same offer made via the primary agent could have been enough.
This one should be a routine question to ask when buying a house. Past offers that did not complete can be a warning sign, or they may just be cases of bad luck where the would-be buyer’s mortgage fell through.
Ask the agent for as much information as possible about previous unsuccessful offers, and which party withdrew from the process. You might want to avoid vendors who accepted an offer then did not honour the sale at the eleventh hour.
If possible, find out how long the vendor has been trying to sell the property. The agent should be able to tell you, but you can double-check that information if the property has been listed online.
Another of the routine questions to ask when looking at a house is whether anyone else has made an offer on the property.
If the agent tells you there is a rival offer in place, ask for more details, for example:
Make yourself the preferred bidder. That means finance in place, an agreeable timescale, and ideally a buying agent to represent your side in any negotiations.
Finally on our Questions to Ask when Buying a House Checklist, always ask for an explanation of the asking price – especially if it doesn’t seem to tally with the property’s market value.
Vendors will often insist on adding several thousands of pounds to the asking price, in anticipation of future negotiations. In extreme cases, this can lead to a completely unrealistic valuation on the property.
Remember, if you’re buying with a mortgage, your lender will conduct their own valuation survey, so the real worth of the property should come to light – and the whole process could fall through.
This checklist of things to ask when viewing a house doesn’t address the more obvious issues like utilities, parking and neighbour disputes, but drills down into some of the aspects that are often overlooked. We have also recently been featured in the press, discussing which questions estate agents may be less willing to answer.
But by asking all seven of our key questions, you can get a much more rounded view of the property – and show the agent and vendor that you’re serious about the process of buying a house at a fair market value.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.