Questions to ask when viewing a house

Last updated: October 2023 | 4 min read

Stepping into a potential new home? Asking the right questions can transform your viewing into a wise investment. This guide goes beyond costs of buying a house, helping you uncover hidden aspects from maintenance to legal intricacies. Navigating options like quick house sale or the strategy of sealed bids when buying property becomes simpler with our essential questions. Dive into our insights and emerge more informed, prepared to make your house-buying decision with confidence.

Why is the owner selling?

Estate agents can provide insights into the reasons behind a house sale. Though they might not reveal personal details, knowing whether the sale is due to a job relocation, upsizing, or downsizing can offer context about the urgency of the sale.

How long has the property been on the market?

If a property lingers on the market for an extended period, it might raise some eyebrows. Understanding the duration can help in negotiations and in gauging any potential issues.

How much interest has there been in the property?

Gauging the level of interest can offer a temperature check on the property's appeal. Multiple viewings without offers might signal underlying issues worth probing further.

Have any major renovations been done?

Have the sellers had any offers?

Offers made and declined can be a telling sign. If multiple potential buyers have walked away after making an offer, ask the estate agent for reasons.

Is there evidence of damp or mould?

Dark spots on walls or a musty smell can signal damp or mould issues. Address

ing this key question helps ensure the property is free from such complications, as they can lead to health concerns and expensive remedies.

What exactly is included in the sale?

From garden sheds to light fittings, clarify what fixtures and fittings are included. No one wants to move into a new house and find out the previous owners took the garden face's cherished rose bush or a desired chandelier.

Which way does the property face?

A south facing garden gets the most sun, making this aspect desirable for many. Determine the orientation to ensure your potential garden or main living areas receive the desired sunlight.

How old is the property?

Age can hint at the type of maintenance required. Older homes might charm, but they can also come with outdated systems or structural needs.

Have there been any problems with the boiler or other appliances?

Faulty boilers or appliances can be costly to replace. It sounds silly, but understanding their condition and age can prevent surprise outlays after moving house.

Can you move the furniture and have a peek under the rugs?

Hidden issues might lurk under large furniture or rugs. A peek underneath can offer a complete view of the property's condition.

Key questions about the property's status

Is the property leasehold or freehold?

Knowing the tenure is essential. Freeholds grant full ownership, while leaseholds might come with additional charges and conditions. Ask the estate agent for details.

How much is council tax and other utility bills?

Council tax bands determine yearly charges, and utility bills can offer an insight into a house's energy efficiency. Both influence the monthly costs of living in the property.

How much are the service charges and ground rent for a leasehold property?

Leaseholds can carry service charges for maintenance or ground rent. Ascertain these figures to ensure they fit within your budget.

Does the property have planning permission for extensions or major renovations?

Dreaming of an extension or a loft conversion? Check for existing planning permissions or restrictions, especially if you have future renovation ideas in mind.

Is the property listed or in a conservation area?

Listed properties or those in conservation zones come with restrictions on changes. Familiarise yourself with any constraints before buying a house in such areas.

Is there a property chain involved?

A long property chain can complicate the house buying process. It's beneficial to know where the property stands in the chain and how it might impact the moving timeline.

Questions about the local area What's the neighbourhood like?

Local schools often influence a property's appeal. Discovering how they rate helps frame a clearer picture of the area's standing.

Are there local schools and how are they rated?

A good place to start your own research on local schools is the UK's official school comparison tool. Using it can help you get insights into Ofsted ratings, pupil progress, and other vital information about nearby educational institutions.

How convenient are transport links and public transport?

Transport accessibility can make or break a property's location desirability. Bus stops, train stations, and major roads should factor into your decision-making process.

Are there any local plans or planned developments that could affect the property?

It's worth checking with the local council to see if there are future developments or infrastructural changes planned. Such developments can influence both the ambiance of an area and property values.

What are the neighbours like?

Getting a feel for those who might live next door or nearby gives you a flavour of community dynamics.

Do you have any issues with noisy neighbours?

While every neighbour will make some noise from time to time, persistent or excessive noise can be a concern. The estate agent might have some insights, but also trust your own ears during viewings.

How long have the current owners lived there?

The longevity of the current owner's residency can hint at how comfortable and convenient the property and local area are. If they've lived there for years, it's often a positive sign of stability and satisfaction.

What to check during the viewing Check the water pressure

Estate agents often tout modern amenities in a house. However, the true measure of a house's plumbing health is in its water pressure. During house viewings, head to the bathroom or kitchen. Turn on the taps and gauge the water flow. Does it take a long time for hot water to gush out? This might indicate issues with the heating system or the water pressure itself. A steady and robust flow indicates good water pressure, while a trickle may hint at potential plumbing problems.

Turn on taps and see how long it takes for hot water to come through

Water pressure is more than just a comfort factor; it's a telltale sign of the health of a property's plumbing system. Turn on the taps in the bathroom or kitchen. Monitor how swiftly the water comes out and how quickly it transitions from cold to hot. Houses with sluggish or lukewarm water may have older systems or require some plumbing intervention. On the other hand, a quick switch to hot water and a robust stream means the pipes are in prime condition.

Test the internet connection and mobile phone coverage

In today's digital age, a house isn't just a place to rest; it's often a workspace too. Before settling on your dream home, ensure that it aligns with your technological needs. A quick test can save potential buyers from future connectivity woes. Whip out your mobile phone during the house viewing. Check for signal bars. A full-strength signal in all rooms signifies good coverage, but fluctuating signals might mean some areas of the property are digital blackspots. Similarly, ask the current owner or estate agent about the broadband speed and connection reliability. A house with stellar connectivity becomes more valuable, especially if remote work or online streaming is a significant part of your lifestyle.

How new are the drains and guttering?

The UK weather, known for its unpredictability, makes the state of drains and guttering an essential consideration for potential buyers. During your house viewing, inspect the external drains, guttering, and downpipes. Fresh, well-maintained systems stand out with clean lines and an absence of vegetation or debris. In contrast, aged or neglected drains might show wear, cracks, or even leaks. Well-maintained drains and guttering are less likely to cause water-related issues inside the property, ensuring peace of mind during those rainy days.

Check the energy performance certificate

Energy efficiency isn't just about saving the planet; it's about saving money too. Every property on sale in the UK comes with an energy performance certificate (EPC). This document provides insights into the house's energy use and potential costs. When viewing a house, ask the estate agent for a copy. The rating, from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient), gives a quick overview. Dive deeper into the certificate to understand the house's heating, insulation, and potential improvements to boost its energy efficiency. A higher-rated property not only promises lower energy bills but also affirms the house as environmentally friendly.

Assess the amount of storage space

Modern life comes with belongings, making storage space a key concern for potential buyers. When touring the property, open cupboards, closets, and any outdoor space like a garden shed. Check for depth, accessibility, and overall volume. Assess if the house meets your storage needs. For families or those with hobbies requiring extra space, ample storage can be the difference between a cluttered home and an organised sanctuary. Plus, a well-thought-out storage solution often indicates a property designed with practicality and convenience in mind.

Questions to ask the estate agent

Estate agents act as a bridge between potential buyers and sellers. They possess a wealth of information about the property in question. To make an informed decision, these are the questions you'll want to pose.

Can they explain the conveyancing process?

The conveyancing process involves legal work to transfer property ownership. Ask the estate agent to walk you through the steps. This helps in ensuring you're aware of what lies ahead.

How is the broadband and mobile signal in the house?

In an era where connectivity is paramount, the quality of broadband and mobile signal is a top concern for many buyers. Query the estate agent about this, especially if remote work or online activities are vital for you.

Can you speak directly to the sellers?

Sometimes, it's beneficial to have a direct conversation with the sellers. This can offer deeper insights into the property or any quirks it might have. See if the estate agent can facilitate this communication.

Are there any other properties they'd recommend viewing?

Estate agents are knowledgeable about the local property market. They might be privy to homes that align with your criteria but haven't been viewed yet. It's always a good idea to inquire if there are other properties worth considering in the area.

Ask about the property's energy performance rating

An energy performance rating can provide insights into how energy efficient a house is. It can impact utility bills and the home's overall carbon footprint. Get clarity from the estate agent on this rating to understand potential future costs and the environmental impact of your potential new home.

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