30 questions to ask when viewing a house

Last updated: April 2024 | 4 min read

A house is an expensive purchase, possibly the priciest one of your life. It is also where you envision a peaceful and safe future existence. Hence it's important to take your time with the decision of buying. Asking the right questions can transform your viewing into a wise investment.

Buying a house is an important milestone and you must ask the right questions before making this decision. If you view a house and fall in love with it immediately, you might easily forget to ask some key questions, therefore it is a good idea to have a property viewing checklist handy. The good thing is that the estate agents are bound to share all details with you truthfully.

In your house-buying journey, find useful advice through our guide on costs of buying a house, which helps you uncover hidden aspects from maintenance to legal intricacies. Learn how to manage proof of funds for positioning yourself as a sought-after buyer, or how to tackle sealed bids when buying property.

Here's a list of questions to ask when looking at houses.

Essential queries regarding the sale of the house

1. 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.

2. 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. This duration can help in negotiations and in gauging any potential issues as to why.

3. How much interest has there been in the property?

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.

Perhaps other buyers have been put off by something you don't know about or maybe it's overpriced.

4. 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.

5. What's the lowest price the seller will accept?

Clarifying the negotiability of the seller's bottom line could save you thousands and streamline negotiations with the estate agent and seller. Agents often provide hints, eager to secure a sale and their commission.

Questions about the property's status

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Is there a property chain involved?

A long property chain can complicate the house-buying process. Find out where the property stands in the chain and how it might impact the moving timeline.

9. 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.

If the property has frequently changed hands, you should be alert that there might be serious problems.

More practical questions

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

Faulty boilers or appliances can be costly to replace. Understanding their condition and age can prevent surprises after moving in.

11. Is there dampness or mould?

Dark spots on walls or a musty smell can signal dampness or mould issues. They can lead to health concerns and expensive remedies.

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

Dreaming of an extension or a loft conversion? If yes, then check for existing planning permissions or restrictions.

If there have been renovations, you must ask whether the owners possess the necessary planning and building regulation approvals. If not, it could result in delays and possibly require you to obtain indemnity insurance.

13. Which way does the property face?

Don't forget to ask which way the property faces, and which rooms get the most light.

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 natural light.

14. 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.

15. Can you look more closely at the concealed areas?

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

16. 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.

17. How much is council tax and other utility bills?

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

The agent should also be able to tell you which council tax band the property falls in and if there are any charges for things like off-street parking or garden waste collections.

18. 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.

Questions about the neighbourhood

19. What's the neighbourhood like?

For a young professional, access to local shops and entertainment spots may be key, while if you are looking for a family home, safety and nearby parks may be one of your top priorities.

20. Are there local schools and how are they rated?

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

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 information about nearby educational institutions.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. What are the neighbours like?

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

Keep an eye out for extreme over-looking from neighbouring properties.

24. Could there be 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.

What to check during the viewing

25. How is 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. A steady and robust flow indicates good water pressure, while a trickle may hint at potential plumbing problems.

26. How long does it take for hot water to come through?

Check if it takes a long time for hot water to gush out. This might indicate issues with the heating system or the water pressure itself.

27. How is the internet connection and mobile phone coverage?

Before settling on your dream home, ensure that it aligns with your technological needs. 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.

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.

28. 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.

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.

29. What does the energy performance certificate tell you?

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 on the EPC tells how energy efficient the property is. The rating, from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient), gives a quick overview.

Look deeper into the certificate to understand the house's heating, insulation, and potential improvements to boost its energy efficiency. Check on loft insulation and modern double glazing units and doors as they impact your bills.

A higher-rated property not only promises lower energy bills but also affirms the house as environmentally friendly.

30. How much storage space is there?

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.

A well-thought-out storage solution often indicates a property designed with practicality and convenience in mind.

Learn more about what to keep an eye on while viewing a house as a buyer.

Questions to ask the estate agent

Estate agents act as a bridge between buyers and sellers. They possess a wealth of information about the property in question. To make an informed decision, these are some topics of importance:

Can they explain the conveyancing process?

Conveyancing involves legal work to transfer property ownership. After you have received satisfactory answers to the questions listed above, ask the estate agent to walk you through the steps of the conveyancing process. This helps in ensuring you're aware of what lies ahead.

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 would recommend viewing?

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

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