When viewing a house for the first time, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the lovely wallpaper, beautiful furniture and how nice the garden looks in the sun.
However, before you say “I’ll take it” there are a few questions to ask when viewing a house regarding the property’s condition, location and reason for the sale.
Has it ever flooded? If so, what damage was caused and how has this affected insurance premiums? If the problem has been fixed or is easily fixable, be sure you can afford to take-on the risks. If it suffered from ‘pluvial’ (aka rainwater) flooding, find out if this is an annual or a rare occurance. Our house suffered from pluvial flooding (just in the shower cubicle) during Newcastle’s famous Thunder Thursday but luckily no damage was done and the insurance cost is manageable.
How much are heating, water and council tax bills? If you find yourself deciding between a larger and smaller property, remember the larger one may be more expensive to heat. You can check the council tax band of the house by entering the postcode at most council websites – Band A is the cheapest.
Is there damp? It’s amazing how a good lick of paint can mask damp so make sure you ask the owners if there is any lurking about. If they don’t tell you, the mortgage property assessment will pick it up anyway.
When were the boiler and electricals checked? If a specialist has recently given all appliances, sockets and boilers a once-over you know the property has been well looked after. Ask to see a certificate if possible.
When is it noisiest? Instead of asking if the neighbourhood/roads are noisy (to which the sellers might answer “no”), ask when its noisiest and they will have to give you an answer.
What is nearby? If you are new to the area and haven’t done much research, ask the seller what is out and about. Good schools often push-up house prices but a nearby supermarket, hospital and bus stop are also useful amenities to look out for.
About The Seller
The first, and most obvious, question to ask is “why are they selling?” It could be a matter of relocating for their job or up-sizing to start a family but it’s worth asking anyway. If they let-slip about noisy neighbours, you will soon make your mind up about whether to make an offer.
How long have you lived here? The general consensus is the longer the better. However, the sellers of my house recently split up after only living there for 9 months which didn’t deter us from the purchase anyway!
What are the neighbours like? At best, find out who lives in the houses either side of you so you know what sort of noise/disturbances to expect.
How long has the property been on the market? If you stumble across your dream house yet it’s been on the market for 6 months+ be more inquisitive why it hasn’t been sold before now – it pays to be cynical! If the sellers are shy about the question ask the estate agents if any viewers have been remotely interested and if they can shed any light as to why that could be.