10 questions to ask before buying a home
Whether you’re dealing with the owners direct or liaising with an estate agent, there are plenty of things you need to know before making an offer on a property. Having a list of questions at the ready can help you to stay focused and ensure you don’t get swept up in the ‘feel’ of a home and lose sight of the realities.
What to ask and why
How long has the property been on the market?
If a property has been on the market for a long time – why? Do other people know something you don’t? Ask why they think it isn’t selling. If it’s been about for a while, there might be wiggle room with the price.
Have there been any offers yet?
Lots of viewings but no offers? Or already a few serious offers that haven’t been accepted? All of this information can help you to gauge where the seller is at and where you might pitch your bid if you decide to make one.
How long have the owners lived there?
Has the property changed hands numerous times over a short period of time? This could indicate an underlying issue. Likewise, if the current owners have lived there for many years it could be a sign maintenance is needed and they are moving on rather than tackling the work.
What are the neighbours like?
Do the people next door rent or own? Do your best to find out if there have been any issues or disputes – no one needs the headache of noisy or troublesome neighbours.
Has any major work been carried out?
If the answer to this is yes, then ask to see the relevant planning permissions and building control consent to check that it’s all fully approved and legal. You can usually check this out online too, via the local authority’s website.
How old is the property?
It’s worth finding this out as the older a home is, the more likely it is to require work. The general upkeep will probably cost you more too. It’s also a good idea to check out the age of the electrics and when the boiler was last serviced, as an unplanned rewire, or forking out for a new boiler, isn’t how anyone wants to start their new ownership.
Why is it being sold?
Often people are just ready to move on – up or downsizing, or relocating to a new area. But there can be a number of other, less desirable, reasons too – so be sure to ask the question.
What’s the seller’s position?
How quickly does the seller want to move – and how quickly they can move – are all questions you need an answer to. If they’ve already found somewhere new, chances are they’ll be looking for a quick sale. Or, if they’re tied up in a complex chain and you’re in a hurry, it may have a bearing on your decision to make an offer.
What’s included in the sale?
It’s important to establish exactly what the seller intends to include as part of the sale. White goods, curtains, garden furniture and light fittings, could all be agreed as part of the purchase. Chances are the seller will be glad to offload some items that won’t fit their new home. You won’t know unless you ask, and you could grab yourself a bargain!
Are they open to negotiations?
There’s no point agonising over where to pitch your offer if the hard fact is the seller is only interested in the asking price. It’s perfectly ok to ask if the vendor is open to offers and it saves wasting everybody’s time.
An estate agent is legally bound to tell you the truth – a homeowner isn’t. But sometimes what isn’t said, can be just as telling as what is. Body language and seeing how a seller responds to certain questions can be a big indicator of the real answer.
Buying property is a huge investment and you have every right to ask questions. And – even if you don’t get answers to everything – the more you ask, the better the picture you can build of what you’re considering buying into.
Get the right team by your side
Estate agents and sellers can be keen to avoid awkward information and inconvenient facts about a property, making home buying a tricky business to negotiate. Having an experienced and trustworthy team by your side can make the process much easier – and that’s where GD Legal come in.
As friendly, professional property solicitors, we aim to help take the stress and hassle out of acquiring a property, assisting you every step of the way with your house buying needs.