Viewing a house?

Make sure you’re asking the right questions

Home buying and selling

16 September 2020

Questions to ask when viewing a house

Whether you're buying your first home, moving home into something bigger, or downsizing, buying a house is a big deal. And, as they say, knowledge is power. So, you’ll want to make sure you’re asking the right questions. That’s why we’re here. Below, you’ll find questions (both big and small) that you should be asking while you view the house, plus a few things to look out for. Now, the only thing that’s left to do is find your dream home.

Questions to ask the estate agent

The estate agent is the person in the know. They’ll know the house inside out. They also have a legal obligation to give you the facts – so you can trust what they tell you. Below are some of the most important questions you should be asking to get a better understanding of the house:

  • Why is the owner selling? – It’s always good to understand why the current owners are looking to sell. If they’re in a rush to move on, you may even be able to haggle a lower price.
  • What is included in the sale? – You’ll want to know what you’re getting for your money. The sale may include extras such as garden sheds and other fittings and fixtures.
  • How long has it been on the market? – Has the property been up for sale for a while? It’s worth finding out why. You might even be able to get a lower price if it hasn’t managed to sell for a few months.
  • How long have the owners lived there? – A house that changes hands constantly may suggest an underlying problem. It’s good to find out how long the owners have lived in the house.
  • What is the minimum price the seller will accept? – It’s good to know from the outset whether there’s any wiggle room on the price. It could end up saving you thousands in the long run.
  • Have there been any other offers? – Are you going to be getting into a bidding war with someone else? Knowing this can help you decide whether this house is the one for you.
  • When do the sellers have to move out? – Do they need to move out quickly? The sellers may be open to lower offers if so.
  • How old is the property? And is the property listed? – Listed properties may restrict how many changes you can make to the house. It’s also worth knowing that not all home insurance providers will insure listed properties. So, find this out early on.
  • How much are utility bills/council tax? – It’s important to take your monthly expenses into account when buying a house. You’ll want to know the tax band and utility bills so you can make sure you can afford the monthly costs.
  • What is the neighbourhood like? – It’s not just about the house. As the cliché goes, it’s also: location, location, location. What are the crime levels? What are the local schools like? Is there public transport close by? All of this plays a part in the bigger picture beyond the house itself.
  • Are the neighbours noisy? – Noisy neighbours can spoil a perfectly good house. Find out as much as you can about the people who’ll be living around you.
  • How old are the drains and guttering and are there any problems with damp? – Repair work to these kinds of issues aren’t cheap. So, it’s good to know about any potential issues that could arise further down the line.

Things to look out for around the house

It’s not just about the questions you ask. Viewing the house is your chance to get up close and personal with your possible dream home. It’s important to take this opportunity to check for any issues that may need costly repair work later down the line. Obviously, most of us aren’t experts – so if in doubt, try to get a professional to give you a hand. While there’s plenty to look out for, here are just a few things you should take time to check:

  • As you look around the house, check each room’s light switches and keep an eye out for any exposed wires.
  • Look at the amount of storage and the number of power sockets.
  • Are the flooring, walls and décor in good condition? Check the structure for cracks etc.
  • Check that all windows and doors open and close properly.
  • Check that all locks work.
  • Check that all taps work, plus the water pressure, and how long hot water takes to come through.
  • Check which direction the house faces.
  • Take time to check the roof – if you can’t see it, ask about it.
  • Check whether there’s a garage, or available parking if not.
  • Check the fire alarms.
  • Check the energy performance certificate (the EPC).

And possibly the most important point, make sure you view the property more than once. It’s a big decision, so one viewing might not give you a full idea of the house’s condition.

Making the right decision

At the end of the day, the most important questions to ask should be: is this the right house for me? The above tips and tricks will help you fill in this picture – and help you avoid any unforeseen issues later on in life. Choosing the right house takes time, but there’s no better feeling than finding the perfect fit. Good luck in your house-hunting, and we hope this helps!