These are our picks for the most important questions that first-time buyers sometimes overlook. In each case, the answers to these questions are vitally important when making a property-buying decision:
1) Why is the Current Owner Selling This House?
The answer to this question can provide valuable guidance when you’re putting in an offer. There’s a great difference in how you want to approach a motivated seller looking for a fast sale as opposed to a speculative seller who is mainly gauging market interest. The former situation can be particularly favourable, as you may be able to lower your offering price considerably.
2) How Long Has it Been Since the House was First Offered?
Bear in mind that local demand and property type greatly influence how long it takes to sell a given property. A property sitting on the market for several months is not a guaranteed red flag. Currently, home sales that are tracked on Rightmove take an average of 63 days to move from listing to securing a buyer.
3) What’s the Parking Picture Like?
If there isn’t a parking space or a garage included with the property, you need to give some thought as to where you or guests are going to park. And what if you need a disabled parking spot? If you need to arrange a designated space, feel free to contact your local council to learn more.
4) What Sort of Bills are Associated with the Property?
A good agent should be able to help you determine how much living in a given property will cost. The property listing should include an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will suggest how much your energy costs will be. EPC ratings run from A to G, and you should see both a current rating and a potential rating that covers possible energy efficiency improvements. Ask the agent about council tax on the property, too.
5) Has There Been any Recent Building Work on the House?
The viewing is a good time to ask about recent renovations, improvements, extensions, and the like. Some places might have simple marble bathroom worktops, or even more complex developments like a new conservatory. For very old properties or ones which you believe are in questionable condition, you may want to consider having a detailed survey done. Keep your expectations reasonable if you start considering making your own extensions to a home; remember that planning permission may be difficult to secure.
6) Are There Any Neighbourhood Issues?
One of the most important parts of researching a property is getting to know the local area. Drive to the house during rush hour to gauge the traffic if you are a car commuter. Make sure you visit the area both in the daytime and at night. If possible, ask some neighbours for their opinion of the area.
7) Is There a Buying Chain Going On?
In some property sales, the seller has already lined up a new property to move into. But that deal might be contingent on selling their old property quickly; that may give you greater bargaining power. Be aware of the possibility of the reverse situation, though. A seller who is still looking for a new property may slow the entire process down and oblige you to wait longer than you’d like to complete the deal.
8) Be Clear About Inclusions and Exclusions?
Before making any commitments, make sure you’ve got as much detail as possible about what is and is not included in the sale of the property. White goods (e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, etc) are often included in property sales. These essentials might not come with the house, though; understand what you’re buying so that you can avoid any unpleasant surprises as you move in.
9) Can You Live with the Neighbours?
Neighbour issues matter more to some buyers than others. Some prospective owners might be outraged to discover their new neighbours like loud parties or own aggressive dogs. Other buyers are more lenient when it comes to neighbours. And in some cases, a great neighbourhood may be one of the factors that make an imperfect property worth buying. Diligent research is the key to making a good match.