It is every person’s dream to have a place to call home, a place they will be comfortable, happy and assured of their safety. The process of buying a home is never a walk in the park. It is advisable to do proper scouting. As buying a home is a long-term commitment, it is a decision one should not rush into making. One should carefully explore the options at hand before making a choice. Below are some of the questions you should ask when purchasing a house.
Why is the owner selling the house?
A person can decide to sell their house for several reasons .it could be selling because they want to relocate to another place, selling because they have gone broke and want to relocate to a smaller apartment, or generally selling for profit. When buying a house, it is prudent to know why the owner wants to let that property go. Why does the owner not want the property anymore?
This enables you to know where your bargaining power stands. For instance, if the owner is selling the house because they went bankrupt, it gives you stronger bargaining power because they are desperate for money. This important question can help a buyer save money by utilizing the advantage they have over the seller.
Is there something I should know?
This is an important question to ask in an attempt to discover some issues that you naturally would not be told unless you asked. You can inquire from the real estate agent or even the immediate neighbours. As a home buyer, you do not want to be caught unaware after investing in the property. Maybe major infrastructural changes are taking place like the closure of the local shops, or other social facilities like hospitals, schools and train terminals. Or maybe, the house has been linked to criminal activities previously. It is vital information you should have before the purchasing decision.
How long has the property been on the market?
It may seem an unimportant question, yet it is an essential one. This question enhances your perspective of the house. If the property has been listed for long, it raises questions like, is it overpriced? Are there things that other potential buyers noticed and decided not to buy the house that you have overlooked or not noticed? If the property has been listed for a long time, it means the seller has become desperate and is more likely to accept a lower amount for the property.
Are there any current plans underway in the area that might have impacts on homeowners?
These plans could include both short term or long-term plans for the area. It is important to know whether there are plans for the development of the area in the near future before you become a resident in the neighbourhood as any undertakings will, in one way or another, affect you. Is there a new housing project underway that will lead to cutting down of the surrounding vegetation, yet you bought the house because the area looked natural? It is essential to have this information to avoid being disappointed later on. It also ensures you get the absolute value for money and no regrets.
What is included in the sale?
This is an important question to ascertain what is included in the sale. You would assume the house comes together with the greenhouse or the garden and later on be surprised to learn these additional features are not part of the deal. If the house is already furnished, do not assume the furniture is automatically part of the sale; ask first. It would be best if you asked to know the exact amount you will pay for the entities. You get to know your property’s exact dimensions and what extra pay you will need to make. This question helps clear out any confusion by letting you know what to expect from the start.
By how much has the property value depreciated in the last few years?
This question might be unpopular with most real estate agents, but it is vital to understand if there has been a drop in value and why. The information can also be found on the Land Registry website in case the agent is not willing to honestly answer your question.
What is the least price the agents are willing to sell the house for?
It is a crucial question to ask since it might save you thousands. Agents are looking to make a sale to get a commission, even if they have to sell the house at a lower price. They will often suggest the price. The assumption is that they know the seller’s minimum price expectations.
How long have the owners occupied the house?
If they have lived in the house for a short period, it is relevant to ask why they are moving out. Is it something that will affect you too? Is it not related to the condition and surroundings of the house?
Has the house recurrently had different owners?
Be watchful of potentially serious problems if the house has repeatedly changed owners. Find out why the previous owners moved out and contact them if possible to get the clarity you are seeking.
How did the realtor come up with the selling price?
A competent estate agent will vindicate the asking price by providing relevant information on how they decided upon the price. You can then evaluate the quoted price against the claims of the agent. Visit and check out other properties for sale nearby so that you can get a good indication of what the houses sell for in the area. There are, however, some estate agents who might tell you if they think a seller has overestimated the house.
What offers have they had so far?
There is a high chance an agent will let you know if there have been other offers on the property. They most probably won’t tell you the exact amount of the offers but they might hint at the estimate. Finding out about the other offers will make it easier for you to haggle over the price and decide on an offer to make.
When are the sellers planning to vacate the house?
Find out if the sellers have somewhere else to settle. If they have, they will try to sell the property as soon as possible. If they are stuck in a chain, you will have to wait until they find a home, adding to the uncertainty and peril of being part of a chain. This question will let you make an informed decision based on whether the seller is serious about moving out.
Is it possible to have a one-on-one with the sellers?
It is a realtor’s work to negotiate the price and terms of the sale and they don’t like it when a client wants to talk to the seller directly. Most sellers are not professionals in the industry and they will most likely give you honest opinions and answers concerning the property. They will give better sentiments on the experience of the house and point out the pros and cons of that property.
Which direction does the house face?
Do you prefer your bedroom to face the rising sun? Do you also prefer watching the sunset on your terrace while enjoying the tranquil surroundings of your property? Which rooms in the house will you be using the most and where do they face? The view from different areas in the property is crucial to you having a pleasant experience.
Have there been any major constructions on the house?
If there have been works conducted on the house, ask for the relevant documents of approval, planning and building authorization. Most local and government planning agencies allow you to search for planning applications on their website. Unapproved construction works may later be costly because you may have to demolish a part of the property later.
How much are the utility bills in the area and how much is the council tax?
They may seem like small fees compared to the actual cost you will spend on buying the house but the fact that they are recurrent expenses will add to the costs of owning a home. Talk to the seller if possible and let them give you the exact amounts to help you make an informed decision.
Is there a listing of the property?
Listed properties often have heavy restrictions on things you can do outside and sometimes inside the property. For an aspiring homeowner, it is advisable to seek clarifications on the types of restrictions put in place before buying the property. Some properties are built on conservation areas and some restrictions apply in such areas. Research on them and make a decision based on the information at hand.
What information is available about the neighbourhood?
How much is the council tax? What is the crime rate? How good are the schools? What is the condition of transport facilities? Are there lots of playing space? Real estate agents will most likely provide you with this kind of information but they are inaccurate sometimes. Do your research and consider all pros and cons of owning a house in that neighbourhood to avoid being unhappy with where you live.
Can you move things around to get a clear look at different sections of the house?
It is common for agents to hide cracks in the wall with furniture or use rugs and carpets to hide flaws on the floor. Make sure you do a thorough check-up and once your offer has been accepted, hire an independent and skilful building surveyor. They will perform all the necessary checks available and spot any defects that you may not know.
Are the taps working effectively and efficiently?
Are the taps working? How long does it take for the water to come through? Do they have any leaks?
What is the property’s age?
It is good to know how old your house is to make a positive decision. Old houses usually have high maintenance costs. Evaluating these costs will help you see the upkeep you need and the expenses you will incur to maintain the property.
What is the explanation of the Energy Performance Certificate?
The Energy Performance Certificate rates the property’s energy efficiency by looking at several factors such as wall cavity insulation, loft insulation, the number of exterior walls, and ad if the boiler is insulated as well as when these features were installed.
Have there been recent decorations?
Redecorations can transform the house, making it look different from its initial description. Some homeowners can use redecoration as a way to conceal cracks or damps in the house. It is therefore advisable that the seller informs you of any renovations that have been made to the house. This information is essential in gauging the condition of the house against the seller’s asking price.
What is the size and condition of the boiler?
It is best to ensure that the boiler in the house is big enough to serve your family’s hot water needs. Also, enquire about the boiler’s condition and if any repairs have ever been done on it.
What is the state of the guttering and drainage System?
A well-functioning drainage and guttering system is a vital element of any house. It is one of the elements you should check before purchasing a house to avoid extra costs on repairs later on.
What are the Neighbours like?
Knowing the type of neighbours you will have before deciding to purchase the house is important. The seller legally bound to inform you if he or she has ever filed complaints against the neighbours. You need to understand if the neighbours are quiet or rowdy, friendly or not, are they homeowners or tenants? Alternatively, you can drive around and have a look at the state of their property and determine by yourself the kind of neighbours they are.