Important questions to ask when viewing a property

10 minute read.

Buying a house is likely to be the most expensive purchase you will ever make. Yet the decision to make an offer on something worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is made, on average, in just 25 minutes. 

Some people can spend longer than that deciding whether to purchase a £49 pair of shoes! So, as the buying decision is usually made with such speed, it’s vital that when viewing a property you ask your estate agent as many questions as possible in order to make an informed decision and avoid the dreaded “I wish I’d asked…..” scenario. 

Whilst a property may indeed have the ‘wow factor’, sweeping you off your feet as you cross the threshold, don’t be blinkered by the aesthetics of a property. Instead delve deeper and consider asking the following questions: 

1. How long has the property been on the market? If the property has been for sale for more than three or four months, it’s worth investigating why. The average time it takes to sell a property in the UK is usually around 12 weeks, however there is no ‘one size fits all’ timescale as there are so many factors involved. This includes price, location, economy and so on. That said, it could be an issue relating to the property itself that other potential buyers have spotted, and you have not, so it is always worth asking. 

2. How much interest has there been in the property? If you’re already getting feel good vibes about a property as you pull up on the driveway, its likely other viewers have felt the same! Ask how many viewings have taken place and if any offers have already been made – your estate agent can advise you but cannot disclose the actual offer amounts. This will give you an indication of its popularity. 

3. How long have the current owners lived in the property? If the owners have only lived in the property for a short period of time, it’s vital to discover why. There could be a perfectly legitimate reason such as an unexpected job move or family reasons, but asking the question gives you a chance to suss out any other potential issues such as neighbour disputes (which sellers are legally obliged to divulge) or problems with the house or land itself. 

4. What is the local area like? You may already be familiar with the area or have carried out some independent research, but if not, aim to ask pertinent questions about local schools, accessibility to facilities such as doctors, hospitals, vets and supermarkets. You can even ask your estate agent if they would be happy to live in the area. What’s important is you bear in mind that whilst you can easily renovate a property – you cannot pick it up and move it to a new location! 

5. What is the water pressure like? Is it rude to turn on the taps and the shower when you’re viewing a property? Opinions vary but imagine waking up after the first night in your new home and discovering that your beautiful shiny shower looks great but barely produces even a trickle of the wet stuff! As you view a property, check the water pressure and plumbing. It may appear to be a trivial thing and may even not be a deal breaker for you, but it’s good to know exactly what you’re getting before you make an offer. 

6. What are the running costs of the property? Think about council tax, gas and electricity bills, water rates and other utilities as these can all add up. Ideally, it’s best to get an exact cost from the vendor so you can ensure your monthly budget fits. And, on the topic of utilities, you may also like to ask about broadband speeds in the area, particularly if you work from home and rely on a strong internet connection. 

7. When are the vendors planning to move? In other words, have the sellers found their next property? If so, how far through the buying process are they? No-one wants to be in a long chain as this can create complications and delays, and of course the ideal situation is that the property is chain-free although this is not always possible. Knowing that the sellers are organised and keen to move quickly can reassure you that the sale will be efficient! 

The Final Checks 

Love the sun? Check which way the property faces! If there is a beautiful terrace but it faces due North, then there won’t be too many opportunities to soak up any golden rays! 

Want to make improvements or renovate? If it’s an old property check whether it’s listed or in a conservation area as restrictions may apply. 

Keep your nose trained! Fresh paint could mean the sellers are covering cracks or damp – or they may genuinely want the property to look it’s best! 

Remember, most properties are purchased through a mixture of head and heart, so stay objective!