Nine questions all first-time buyers should ask
We often hear stories of first-time buyers who are too embarrassed to ask (what are actually really sensible) questions when viewing a home.
So, we’ve compiled a list of questions we know buyers usually want to ask, but sometimes don’t.
The answers to these should help when it comes to making that all-important decision.
- Why are the current owners looking to sell the house?
This information will help when it comes to putting in an offer. It’s good to find out if they are very motivated sellers who may need to move quickly, or if they’ve just put their home on the market to see what kind of interest it gets. If they’re looking for a quick sale there could be the opportunity to offer a lower price, especially if you’re in a good position with no chain and a mortgage in principle already sorted.
- How long has the house been on the market?
The time it takes to sell a property varies depending on local market demand and the price and type of property, so it shouldn’t put you off if it’s been on for a few months. At the minute, the average time is 63 days from the time a home is added to Rightmove until a buyer is secured. If it’s been on Rightmove for several weeks and there’s been little interest they may be open to negotiate on the asking price, unless they’ve already reduced it to sell. You could also ask if they’d had any previous offers.
- Has the house had any major building work recently?
If it’s an older property you’d like to buy or you have concerns about a properties condition, it’s recommended that you take advice about having a more detailed survey. You can ask some questions before then as well. You could ask on the viewing whether any improvements, extensions, or renovations have been carried out and how long ago that was. It’s also worth seeing if there’s any potential to extend the property, but bear in mind this will need to go through planning permission so may not be approved.
- What’s the parking situation?
If your property doesn’t come with a garage or parking space, you’ll have to work out where you or visitors can park. Do you need a disabled parking spot on a main road, for instance? Don’t be afraid to contact your local council to find out how you can get a designated space.
- How much will the bills be?
Ask the agent if they know how much the council tax is for the area, and also have a look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), available on the property listing, to see how energy efficient the house is. The EPC will tell you the current rating from A-G and the potential rating it could be if the energy efficiency is improved.
- Is the property part of a chain?
This may give you a little bargaining power. If a seller has already found their next property, they may be be willing to accept a lower offer to ensure that a move happens quickly. However, if they haven’t, you might become part of a longer or delayed chain so you need to think about how long you’re willing to wait.
- Does the local area have any issues to be aware of?
Investigating the location properly is massively important. Do your research. Drive to the house during rush hour and ask neighbours what they think of the area. Also if you’re new to the area and will be commuting by train or bus, try and visit the area both during the day and also at night.
- What’s included in the sale?
Get as much information as you can here. For example, will any white goods, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, be included in the price? Having these essentials already in the house will make the move feel a lot smoother as you spend the following days and weeks unpacking. If you already have your own white goods you may even be able to make some money by selling any surplus appliances.
- Who are the neighbours?
How much this answer affects your decision will vary from buyer to buyer. Noisier neighbours or barking dogs could be a turn off for some people. But for others, it might not be such a big deal. Alternatively, a community with really friendly neighbours may make up for any negatives a property has. It’s worth doing a bit of research.
(Source: Rightmove, 2019)