Eight questions to ask when viewing a property
When you buy a new house, you’re buying more than just bricks and mortar. You’re making a decision to invest in a place to call home and choosing the lifestyle that comes with it. That’s why buying a new home is one of the most important decisions you’ll make and, while viewing properties online is a great place to start, there is no substitute for actually visiting the house, and surrounding neighbourhood.
We have already discussed five things to look for when viewing a property, but in order to find the house or flat that’s right for you, you need to ask the current owner the right questions.
Whoever is showing you around the property will undoubtedly have prepared what they want to say about how great the kitchen is for entertaining, etc., but before you even consider making an offer you need to play detective and ask these 8 essential questions to discover if this is the right home for you.
1. How long have the current owners lived here?
If a property has been put on the market within a relatively short time after purchase, it could indicate there are issues with the property or area.
If the vendors have only lived in the house a short time, make sure there are no red flags by doing some fact finding to discover why they’re moving.
Points that should set alarm bells ringing are noisy neighbours, or poor local facilities. A high turnover of occupants should be seen as a warning sign.
2. Why are they leaving?
It could be the case that the current owners are looking to move somewhere bigger, or a job requires a move to a different region.
If it’s the latter, the owner may be looking for a quick sale and be more likely to accept a slightly lower offer!
3. Are the sellers in a chain?
Anyone who has bought or sold a property before will understand that a chain is likely to make the buying process longer depending on the links in a chain.
The chain is only as strong as its weakest link: one mortgage hold up or a delay in finding a moving day can hold back the whole process. If you are looking for a quick move, consider the implications of entering into a chain process carefully before you make an offer on the property.
4. Have the current owners made any recent improvements to the property?
The addition of a bedroom, a new fitted kitchen or even just a new boiler: it’s good to know how much work the occupiers of the house have put in and when the work was carried out. This is especially useful when viewing an older property that could require renovations after you move in.
If there are improvements, make sure to ask for any warranties, and check planning permission in the case of additional bedrooms or extensions.
5. What exactly is included in the sale?
It might seem obvious, but it is worth checking just exactly what is included with the property.
There would be nothing worse than moving in to discover there are no light fittings or carpets!
Certain items such as white goods and sheds may be available for negotiation – it’s worth checking!
Land boundary is also something worth checking: do you own the garden? Where does the property end? Would you be responsible for any upkeep for, say, the road in a cul-de-sac? People have been caught out so it is always good to ask.
6. What can you learn about the neighbourhood?
Depending on your own circumstances, what you are looking for in the neighbourhood will vary.
For a young professional, access to local shops and public transport may be key, while if you are looking for a family home, great schools and nearby parks may be one of your top priorities.
Your solicitor or the current owners should be able to provide you with more information about the street and the area.
7. Is the house fully insulated?
If you’re interested in an older property check what level of insulation has been carried out. It’s not the most exciting question, but it could save you a fortune on heating bills in the long run and save you time having to insulate the property after you’ve moved in. In our area, granite buildings generally cannot have wall insulation installed, but check on loft insulation and modern doubleglazing units and doors.
8. How long has the property been on the market? Has there been much interest?
You can expect the solicitor or seller to be a little over optimisitic regarding the amount of interest, but your solicitor should be able to find out an accurate assessment of the sellers’ position, and, if the property has been on the market forsome time, there may be room for negotiation when it comes to price.
If the property has only been on the market a week or two but you know it is in a popular area, you will need to decide whether or not you want to try to “beat the market” by making an offer. This is where your solicitor should prove very helpful, so make sure you discuss.
Found a property that you love? Make sure to read our guide on buying a house in Scotland.