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The Questions to Ask When Viewing a House

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Seen a property for sale? Has it piqued your interest? A viewing gives you the chance to dig deeper. Do your best to find everything out. It’s a large sum of money you’re considering parting with, after all! To try and help, we’ve put together some questions to ask when viewing a house.

Questions to ask the estate agent when buying

How long has the property been on the market?

If the property has been on the market for anywhere between 3-6 months then ask the agent why?

It could be that the property was overpriced in the first place and may have had a price reduction. Have there been any offers made during its time on the market that have been rejected, if so try and gauge why? It may be that an offer had been accepted but for some reason, the deal fell through. Perhaps a property survey had revealed some inconvenient truths.

These answers could leave an opening for your negotiations and present you with an opportunity to secure a good price if you decide this property ticks all the boxes.

What’s the area like?

You can change many things about a property but not its location. Even though the seller, or their agent, can offer some valuable first-hand information on local schools, transport connections, local amenities, shops, it’s important to combine this with your own research.

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Why is the seller moving?

One of the main reasons people move home is because they run out of space. If this is the case be alert to the amount of storage in the property, if it looks limited is there room for you to add some? Perhaps the sellers are moving for personal reasons and might be interested in negotiating to accommodate a fast sale.

How long have the owners lived there?

Perhaps the seller has lived there for a number of years, loves their home but needs to downsize. If this is the case then who they sell to might be important, so being charming about their home could go in your favour.

If the seller has lived there for a relatively short space of time then this should set off alarm bells. Have they had neighbour issues? Has a recent planning application been granted that could be detrimental to the property? Are there building works nearby? Or is there an issue with the property itself? Either way, you’ll want to find out.

What are the neighbours like?

The answer to this question will likely be a positive one. However, be aware that any neighbourhood disputes (past or present) must be disclosed to you.

Are there any issues with the building?

The vendor and their estate agent, are legally obliged to disclose any issues with the property.

How much will your bills be?

Getting a rough idea of what it costs to run the property month on month, will help you determine if the property is affordable to you over the long term.

Has the property been renovated?

Perhaps there’s been an extension, conservatory or new roof. Find out what’s been done and when and ensure any necessary paperwork is in place and to hand. These kinds of things can massively slow down the conveyancing process if a vendor is not organised.

What’s the Energy Performance Rating (EPC)?

An EPC gives a home an energy rating, based on its energy efficiency. The energy certificate will give your property a rating from A (highly efficient) to G (inefficient). The UK average is D!

Having an EPC is a legal requirement for all domestic properties that are built and up for sale or rent in the UK.

The energy efficiency rating will let you know how costly the property is to run and inform you of any money-saving methods that can be implemented.

When viewing a property, it’s easy to get distracted. Make sure you leave no stone unturned!

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From the seller to the estate agent, you can gain a lot of information from the different people involved in the house sale. So, your list of house viewing questions can never be too long.

You’ll want to ensure you’re armed with as much knowledge about the property, and its surrounding area, before you buy. Leave no room for withheld information or omitted details.

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Before you view a house, it’s important you know whether you can afford it. Speak to a mortgage adviser first.

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Why property questions are important

Whether it’s your first-time or not, knowing how to view a house is essential. The key is to get as many details as possible.

Things to ask when viewing a house include questions about the property structure, the asking price and the surrounding area. Never rush into making an offer before gathering all the necessary information.

Particularly if this is your second viewing of a property, the answers you receive will determine whether or not you choose to go ahead with the sale.

Don’t be made to feel like you’re prying! You’re potentially about to make the biggest investment of your life, so you’ll want to know as much about it as possible.

Top questions for estate agents and sellers during a house viewing

It can be tough to know what to look for when viewing a property! First-time buyers in particular might not be aware of all the different elements to consider. Plus, from sellers to estate agents, the questions to ask at a house viewing vary.

Since there are so many things to consider, we’ve broken it down for you:

What should you ask the seller specifically?

When it comes to the seller, focus on their personal experience of living there.

If you’re lucky enough to meet the seller (not every seller wants to be there when potential buyers are looking around their house) be ready with your list of viewing questions that only they can know the answers to.

If a seller seems unwilling or reluctant to answer any questions, this should send some alarm bells ringing. However, they are legally required to disclose all information.

How to ask those all-important questions:

  • Why are you selling your house?
  • Have you done any renovations? If so, are there certificates for the work?
  • If you were staying, is there any building work you would have considered doing?
  • Have you found somewhere to move to?
  • Are there any nuisance noisy neighbours who live nearby?
  • What are the best and worst bits about living in the property?
  • Have there been any problems with the property when it comes to its structure?
  • Why did the previous owners leave?

Questions to ask estate agents

The estate agent will have some insider knowledge on the property, so don’t be afraid to ask them the questions you would pose to the seller. Just don’t expect them to have all the answers. However, here are some ‘buying a house questions’ that they should know the answers to:

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Has anyone made an offer on the property yet?
    • If so, what was the offer and why was it turned down?
  • How did you arrive at the asking price?
  • Have you sold any other properties in the area? If so, what did they sell for?
  • How many offers has the seller had so far?
  • How long have the owners lived there?

Questions about the property itself

It’s a good idea to research the area surrounding the property, as well as the property itself. You can find many of the answers to these questions online. But, it might help if you walk around the neighbourhood, or at least visit the property at different times of the day.

This should help you find out answers to questions such as:

  • Is the property in a conservation area?
  • Is there any off-street parking?
  • If parking is all on-street, how easy is it to get a spot and what does it cost?
  • How busy is the road?
  • How much does the property cost to run? (Utility bills and council tax etc.)
  • Have any insurance claims been made relating to the property itself? If so, what were they for?
  • How much did the property last sell for? And when?
  • Have prices gone up sharply in the area or down? Is there a reason for this?
  • Which way does the property face?
  • Is it energy efficient?

Don’t forget to look at the area

We’ve all now heard the phrase ‘location, location, location’. It’s true – it is all about location! When buying a home, researching the local area is essential.

You could have the most fantastic property, but if it’s on the worst street, you won’t enjoy living there.

It’s better to have the worst property on the best street, because you can always add value through refurbishments.

  • What are the local facilities like?
  • How good are the transport links?
  • What shops are nearby?
  • How good are the local restaurants?
  • Are there any good pubs nearby?
  • Which schools are the property in the catchment area for?
  • What are the local crime statistics like?
  • What leisure facilities are nearby?
  • Are there any parks, playgrounds, leisure centres, sports clubs etc?
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Questions to ask when viewing a flat

Purchasing a leasehold property, such as a flat or apartment, should be something you enter into with your eyes wide open. Once you have agreed to the terms of the lease, there is little room for negotiation afterwards.

Do your homework and find out as much as you can about the lease and the freeholder beforehand. The last thing you want, after spending so much money on a property, is discovering that there are serious works that need doing to the property.

Ensure you ask:

  • Who owns the freehold?
  • How long is left to run on the lease?
  • If it’s a shorter lease length, what would be the cost of extending it?
  • What are the annual costs i.e. service charge and/or ground rent?
  • When were the common areas last refurbished?
  • Are there any works planned for the near future?
  • Are other flats lived in by tenants or owner occupiers?
  • What’s the parking situation? Is there any at all?
  • Do you have access to any storage space, such as an attic?
  • How often are maintenance works carried out on the building?
  • Does everyone in the block split the cost of repairs equally? If not, who pays what?
  • Are you allowed pets?
  • Is there a lift?
  • Who is the managing agent?
  • How good is the sound proofing?

This might seem like a lot of information to gather, but you need to ask these questions. You have to garner as much information as possible, because it is a lot of money that you could potentially end up wasting.

Questions to ask when buying a house

If you’ve gathered all the necessary answers to the questions mentioned above, and the property seems right for you, it’s time to get the ball rolling on buying it!

But, the questioning is far from over! Time to double-check a few details:

Here are some things to ask when buying a house:

  • What’s the deal with fixtures and fittings? What’s included in the sale, and what’s being taken?
  • Is the seller in a chain?
  • What’s the minimum price the seller will accept?
  • Is there room to negotiate the house price?
  • How much is the council tax?
  • How much are the utility bills in the area?
  • Is anyone else interested in the property?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some important questions to ask before buying a house. You’re about to part with a huge about of money, so ensure you know everything about the property.

What to do when viewing a house to buy

We understand that it can be tough to know what to ask when buying a house. So, if it helps, put together a questions to ask when buying a house checklist, and tick them off as you go!

This should include all the ones with discussed, plus any extras you think of when you’re there. Every property is different, so you might notice something during the house viewing that you need more details about. This could be both inside and outside.

It’s worth noting down the answers to important questions, such as any major maintenance works that are required. Particularly if you’re viewing more than one property at the same time, it helps to have a record!

A viewing checklist might sound extreme – but you can never be too thorough.

If you’re buying a new house, it’s important to do as much research as possible. While it’s important to ask certain questions, a property report will be able to give a full and detailed picture of an area, for example information on local schools and crime rates. Get a property report below. 

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Last Updated: January 26th, 2022