Key questions buyers should ask when viewing a house

Key questions buyers should ask when viewing a house

Viewing a house which you are potentially planning to buy can be something of a strange experience. Not only are you in a complete stranger’s home, you are also essentially judging it, looking for its strengths and weaknesses and seeking out any flaws or imperfections which may have an impact on your decision to buy. If your viewing is being conducted by the homeowner, basic politeness can often put a lot of viewers off from asking some vital questions about the property. But remind yourself that buying a house is a massive, life-changing purchase that should be given serious consideration. So go along armed with a checklist of what you are looking for from the property and anything you think you need to know.

Firstly, it’s always a good idea to find out why they are moving – in most cases people will be up- or down-sizing (you might need to read between the lines of their answer, because if they’re moving for reasons related to the house they are hardly likely to tell you!) Plus it really is essential to ask a little about the local area, so find out what the neighbours are like, how friendly everyone is and what the crime rates are for the vicinity.

If you have driven to your appointment, then you may have some idea of how easy or difficult it was to park, but asking about parking availability is a good idea, too – there may be offroad parking, for example, or you may have arrived at a particularly busy or quiet time of day.

You also need to find out what the vendor’s situation is in terms of moving, so ask if they are in a chain and how long it is, as this might well influence your decision, especially if you are in a hurry to move.

You could also check if they have had any offers yet, so you know how quickly you need to make a decision. Some people move lock, stock and barrel, while others tend to leave certain fixtures and fittings behind. Ask what is likely to be left that is included in the asking price.

When a house goes on the market, the owners often carry out structural repairs or cosmetic facelifts to make it more appealing. Find out about any recent work and ask if it is still under guarantee, or if there are any structural problems you should know about.

Don’t forget, it’s not just a mortgage you commit to paying when you buy a house. You need to pay your council tax, so find out which band the property is in, as well as how much the utilities tend to cost. If you are moving with a young family, you could ask the vendor if their children go to school in the area and perhaps find out if there is much for young people to do. The more you ask and know, the better informed you’ll be, so don’t feel rushed or fobbed off – buying a house deserves full and proper consideration.

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