Questions to ask the seller at a property viewing
If you’re just starting out on your house-hunting journey, it’s common to feel unsure about what to ask the seller during a property visit. It’s a good idea to take along a checklist, at least to the first two or 3 house viewings, so you’ve got something to refer to if your mind goes blank!
Why are you moving?
Don’t worry, you won’t seem nosy for asking, and the seller’s answer might offer useful information. Is there an antisocial neighbour, or a new main road being built at the bottom of the garden? If so, you’ll want to know sooner rather than later. Just bear in mind that the seller’s primary motivation is to sell their home as quickly as possible, and they may not choose to disclose all the facts, so be sure to put your detective’s hat on!
Is the property part of a chain?
If the sellers have already found a new property, they may want to move quickly, making them more open to negotiating on the price. If they haven’t, you could well be waiting around for months in a chain. Ask about the situation of others in the chain too. The bigger the chain, the more likely you are to face delays during the moving process.
What’s included in the sale?
Make sure you’re clear from the outset on what’s included in the sale. For instance, the sellers might wish to include white goods such as a fridge freezer or washing machine, or garden fixtures such as a washing line or children’s swing set. Knowing all of this in advance will help you to calculate your final budget.
What local amenities are there?
When it comes to desirable local amenities, everyone is different. Some people might relish the idea of being ‘away from it all’, content to be close to only a farm shop and a local pub. Others will love being in the thick of it, with shops and restaurants on the doorstep. Families will want to know about nearby parks and local schools. If you don’t drive, public transport links may well be a priority. Work out what’s important to you and focus on those aspects in your questions.
How much does the property cost to run?
Even if you think you’ve found a great house at an affordable price, you’ll need to know the likely running costs in advance. Older houses can often cost more to run as they’re less energy efficient than their new-build neighbours. Ask about typical monthly utility bills, and make a note of the answers so you can draw up a budget later. Don’t forget to check the council tax band while you’re at it!
What are the neighbours like?
It’s important to get a sense of who you’d be living next to if you were to buy the property you’re viewing. If you’ve got a young family, you may not want to end up living next door to a house full of noisy students! Be observant – do the neighbours’ properties seem well-kept? Are there any noisy dogs?
Try to visit the property at different times to get a sense of what the area is like, and if possible, strike up conversations with neighbours. Most people will be only too happy to chat to you about what it’s like to live there.
Has the property undergone any major building work or had plans submitted?
There are a few things to unpick here. If you are looking at a property with a view to extending it or making structural alterations, you should check whether any previous applications have been submitted. If not, have any of the neighbours had similar work done? If they have, this could indicate a favourable response if you did apply for planning consent.
If the sellers have had major work done recently, you’d be wise to ask what, where, when and why. Was it in response to a particular problem? Is it something that could arise again in the future?
Of course, you’ll find out more about this during the survey process, but it’s worth getting as much information as you can before you make an offer. After all, when it comes to buying houses, knowledge is power. Obtain as much of it as you can before making the decision to buy. Treat this list as a starting point – feel free to print it out and add your own questions before your next viewing. Good luck!