05 Jan 2021
Questions to ask when viewing a property
Whether you’re a first-time buyer, relocating from the city to the coast, or looking for a place to rent, asking the right questions when you view a property can turn your dream property into a reality.
This is especially important if you can only view the property once, or, you can’t organise a viewing.
So here are our top questions for you to ask when viewing a property.
What questions to ask when viewing a house to buy?
Asking questions when you view a property to buy helps you figure out if the property that you love on sight will still be the one you love after you move in.
The first set of questions to ask are about the nature of the sale.
- Why is the owner selling the property? It’s a simple question that can often be overlooked if you’re really excited by the property. But the answer might help you get to the heart of any issues that have prompted the sale.
- How long has the property been on the market? The answer to this can serve two purposes. First, if it’s been on the market for a while, it might alert you to a problem that you’re not aware of yet. If the property has been for sale for a while this also gives you the potential foothold to negotiate on the price.
- Are the sellers part of a chain? Being part of a chain may make the sale take longer as you’re dependent on other buyers and sellers. Your circumstances will decide if a chain is a deal-breaker.
- Has there been much interest? This will help you decide if you need to act quickly and make an offer.
Then you can start asking questions about the property itself.
- What’s included in the sale? This is often outlined further down the line, but it doesn’t hurt to get an idea now. For example, is the shed included in the sale? Where are the property boundaries? Are the sellers intending to take light fixtures or curtains with them? Now’s the time to ask.
- Have there been any major works to the property? This is a good indication of where you can expect to spend your money in the future. For example how old is the bathroom and when was the boiler last replaced? These can also be followed up with questions about planning permission if you’re thinking about extending.
- What are broadband speeds like? If working from home is a priority for you, broadband speeds are important. There’s nothing worse than patchy video calls. You can Google this, but that answer might not always reflect the reality.
The property itself isn’t the only factor that influences your decision, so think about what’s important to you and draw up some questions. As a starting point, you could ask:
- Are there any plans for development in the local area? These questions are often answered through surveys but it always helps to have an idea of what to expect before you make an offer. If you love how rural a house is but there are plans to build a shopping centre nearby, that might make you rethink your decision.
- Are there any complaints against neighbours? As a buyer, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The onus is on you to discover the information you need and if you ask this question, legally they have to answer. You don’t want to end up with the neighbours from hell!
- How long does it take to travel to….? Of course, you can get an idea about this from the internet, but you’ll get a better picture if you ask someone who’s done the journey. If you’ll commute to a nearby city, train times or average traffic durations will likely matter to you quite a lot.
This might seem like a lot of questions and they can be asked after viewing the property, but remember that all of this will help you make an informed decision and a reasonable offer.
Questions to ask when buying a property off-plan
Off-plan refers to buying a property that hasn’t been built yet. This comes with its own set of challenges and questions to help you make an informed decision.
First, you need to find out about the developer.
- Are they part of a warranty scheme? Warranty schemes protect your pre-completion deposit if the developer goes bust. They also guarantee that the property is completed to a set standard. There are several different schemes out there, so ask the developer which one they’re part of and research it. If they’re not part of a scheme, walk away from the purchase.
- What is the developer’s reputation like? This is more a question to ask yourself and conduct research. Find out the names of previous developments and see if you can find any reviews or details about completion timeframes and quality. This will give you a good idea of whether to expect any delays.
- Are there any deals for early buyers? As with buying a built property, the listed price isn’t always the price they expect to sell for.
Once you’re comfortable with the developer, you then need to investigate into the sold units.
- How many units have you sold? If you’re the first person to buy then you’ve got a lot of room for negotiation. Developers sometimes rely on incoming purchases to keep cash flowing throughout the rest of the build. Similarly, if the house is already built but not many units have sold, you’ll have the position to negotiate here too.
- How many are investment properties? The answer to this might not be easy to find out, but it is useful to know the ratio of owner-occupiers to renters. The right answer to this depends on you, but a high portion of investment properties and renters means your neighbours will change regularly.
And then, you can ask questions about the house itself.
- What’s included in the price? Sometimes new-build developments throw in extras to encourage you to buy. This can include things like white goods or curtains and blinds. If you’re buying off-plan (i.e before it’s completed), this is your opportunity to start designing. These costs may then be factored into the overall price.
- When will the build be completed? If you’re on a tight timeline, this is a very important question. Remember that builds don’t always run according to plan so researching the reputation of the developer can help you get a realistic picture of when your house will be complete.
- Will there be access issues? When the property is complete, you might find yourself living in the midst of a building site. So it’s important to ask if there will be problems accessing your property while the build continues.
What questions to ask when viewing a property to rent
Just because you’re renting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the same due diligence when you view the property as you would if you were buying it.
One of the main places to start is by understanding the roles and responsibilities of you, your landlord, and the letting agent.
- Who manages the property? Your property will either be managed by your landlord or the letting agent. Whoever manages the property is likely to be your main contact for anything to do with the property.
- Who is responsible for repairs? This is a good question to ask before you sign a contract because it establishes responsibility. You might be responsible for small repairs like changing lightbulbs or cosmetic damage. Any damage you cause will likely be paid for when you report it or will come out of your deposit. When you move in, take photos and document any damage you can see and let your landlord or letting agent know so you’re not held responsible for damage that’s not your fault.
- Who maintains the garden? In all likelihood, you’re responsible for keeping the garden maintained and neat.
- Who do I contact if there are problems? The person you contact will likely be the same person who manages the property. However, the letting agent might have a dedicated repairs or complaints procedure for you to follow.
After establishing who does what, you can ask questions about the property.
- What’s included? What you see isn’t always what you get. Check which pieces of furniture (if any) are included in the rent. This is a good opportunity for you to negotiate and see if there’s any possibility of replacing old or damaged furniture.
- Are bills included in the rent? This should be clear in the property advert, but it’s still worth double-checking. You can also ask if they have details about how much on average the bills are.
- Can I decorate or have pets? This question obviously depends on your circumstances, but it’s really important to get permission for both of these points otherwise you may lose your deposit or you could even be in breach of contract.
- Is there a carbon monoxide detector? This question can form part of broader safety questions. If you’re not happy with the safety measures, demand that they’re in place before you sign a contract.
- What’s parking like? Find out if you have to pay extra to rent a parking space or if one is included in the rent.
- Who lives next door? Neighbours can make or break a property. So if you can, ask the current tenants what the neighbours are like.