Whether you are first-time buyers, searching for a suitable rental property, are selling property for money-saving purposes so you can downsize into a smaller home, or need to move house to relocate, you need to know the best question to ask when viewing a house.
After all, there’s a lot more to a home than what you might see on virtual tours and property videos.
Before choosing a mortgage broker and arranging a valuation survey, you’ll need some top tips for working out what to ask when you’re renting or buying property and are attending property viewings with or without estate agents present.
Read on and discover our viewing checklist that will make sure you don’t overlook anything important before your next exciting home move!
In this article you’ll find:
- How should I prepare for a house viewing?
- What questions must I ask about the property?
- What do I need to ask about the local area?
- What questions should I ask about off-plan properties?
- What do I need to ask if I’m viewing properties to rent?
How should I prepare for a house viewing?
Viewing a house with estate agents when buying can be exciting but stressful, especially if you’re first time buyers.
You may also be apprehensive if you’re going through an online estate agent as the homeowner may be showing you around and not an estate agent.
It can feel awkward to ask too many questions during a house viewing, but it’s vital to ask the right questions.
Making sure you ask about any queries you have will help you determine whether the property is right for you before moving home.
As the buyer, ask questions about the house.
It can be uncomfortable to ask the current owners questions, but it’s important to do so, and they’ll be expecting it!
You might want to start with how long have the owners lived in the property or why is the owner selling. Ask about what’s included in the sale, how much storage space they have within the house or any recent building work you might want to know more about.
Buying a house is one of the biggest things you’ll purchase and you want to ensure your new home is in good condition and all your questions you have an answer to.
Why are the current owners selling the property?
Getting an answer to this could help you learn more about the possible issues which have resulted in the sale. How long has the property been for sale is another question to ask about your potential new home.
How many weeks or months has this property been up for sale?
If the house has been on the property market for some time, there could be an issue that isn’t immediately obvious.
It may also give you greater leeway for negotiating a lower amount based on the asking price of the property. You want to make sure you can get the best price when buying a home.
Is the seller in a chain?
This could make the property sale take much longer since it depends on the other sellers and buyers. Your own circumstances will dictate whether or not being in a chain will be a dealbreaker.
Which questions must I ask about the property?
When you’re asking the estate agent questions about the house you’re viewing, there are a few questions you should include about the property itself:
Ask the estate agent about nearby developments.
Often this will be outlined later, however getting a clear idea at this early stage can be beneficial. Knowing the property’s boundaries, whether the white goods, curtains, and light fixtures will be going with the sellers and whether or not the garden shed will be included in the price the sellers are asking for will give you more information to work with.
Have any large-scale works been carried out to the house?
An answer to this will give you a good idea of where you’re likely to be spending the most money in future.
Finding out when the boiler was last replaced, and the bathroom’s age will help you determine the kind of expenses you’ll soon be covering. You can also ask about planning permissions if you’re considering an extension.
Whilst walking around the house, you will get a feel if it’s in good condition and check over any renovations that have been done.
How good is the broadband speed?
When you have a large family with online needs or work from home, you’ll need a fast broadband connection.
Other common questions to ask about the house you’re viewing:
- What rating is on the energy performance certificate (EPC)?
- Is the property freehold or leasehold and to whom must I pay ground rent?
What do I need to ask about the local area?
It isn’t just the property that influences your decision. It would help if you also asked some things about the local surrounding area:
Have any plans been made for developments nearby?
When you have a house survey carried out this question will probably be answered, but it’s best to be aware of possibilities before making an offer.
You may love the rural location of a property, but if plans are going through to build an enormous commercial property development nearby, your decision may change.
Questions to ask about noisy neighbours
It may sound not polite to ask these important questions, but it’s essential to know, and legally they must answer it.
How long will it take to get to the nearest shop/school/bus stop/motorway?
The internet will give you some idea about the answers to these questions, but you’re sure to get a clearer idea from asking somebody who knows for sure.
Learning more about public transport links or traffic conditions could be vital if you commute.
What questions should I ask about off-plan houses?
It’s easier to plan what questions to ask when viewing a house when the house is actually built!
Off-plan houses don’t offer you this luxury, and this means they come with a unique set of questions and challenges to ensure you’ve made a well-informed choice.
New builds are very popular, especially with first-time buyers. Granted, there have been some bad property news about new builds, from the leasehold scandal and issues with the Help to Buy scheme to modern slavery in the property industry or serious structural flaws reported in newly built homes.
Still, if you do your due diligence, there is no reason for you to have concerns.
First, you’ll need to learn more about the property developer:
Is the developer in a warranty scheme to protect the pre-completion deposit even if they go bust?
Warranty schemes will also guarantee the property has been completed to the appropriate standard. Check which one the developer is part of then research it. If they aren’t in a scheme, don’t buy it.
Does the developer have a good reputation?
Carrying out research is key.
Find out which previous developments they’ve worked on then check for reviews from owners who lived in one of their properties. Look for reviews that outline information about quality and completion timeframes. This will let you know whether you can trust the developer.
Will any deals be made from early potential buyers?
You may be able to get a lower price than the listed one when buying a new build.
You’ll also need to find out more about the other units that have been sold:
How many of the units are already sold?
If you are the first buyer, you could negotiate a better deal.
Are any of the other units investment properties? Learning the ratio of renters to owner-occupiers will give you an idea of how often your neighbours are likely to change.
Finally, there are some questions to ask about the property itself:
What will be included within the price?
Some new-build developers will add extras to encourage your purchase, including curtains, blinds or white goods.
When is the build likely to be complete?
If you’re running to tight deadlines, this question is an important one. Bear in mind, though, that builds won’t always be running on time, so learning more about the developer’s reputation will help you to get a more realistic idea of when you can exchange contracts and completion is likely to be.
Are there likely to be access issues?
Once the property has been completed, you may be living in the middle of a construction site for some time. Therefore, you need to know whether you’re going to experience any temporary issues with getting to your property.
Must I pay Stamp Duty?
Some new builds are now exempt from stamp duty, but a stamp duty calculator can be found by clicking here.
What do I need to ask if I’m viewing properties to rent?
Even if you’re renting, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask questions when viewing the property. Many of your queries should be about the responsibilities that you, your letting agent and the landlord will have:
Who will manage the property and sort any repairs?
Either a letting agent or the landlord will manage the property.
The property’s tenancy agreements should establish responsibility for all kinds of repairs.
You may likely have responsibility for any small repairs such as cosmetic damage or changing light bulbs. Also, if you cause any damage, you’ll have to pay for it when it’s reported or from your deposit.
On moving in, take photographs and list any damage or defects you notice and tell the letting agent or landlord so you won’t be held accountable for the damage you didn’t cause.
Who will maintain the garden? In most cases, the tenant will have responsibility for this.
Who should I contact when I have a problem? You’ll likely need to contact the person who manages the property, but some lettings agents have their own complaints or repairs procedure.
What about insurance? You should ask; “Do I need to get tenant insurance or will I be covered by the landlord’s buildings insurance and contents insurance?” “Does the landlord have landlord insurance and liability insurance?”
“Must I pay a tenant fee?” Be aware that most tenant fees have now been banned.
There are some questions to ask about the property too:
What will be included?
Check which items of furniture will be included within the rent. If any pieces are damaged or old, negotiate to see whether the seller can replace them.
Will bills be included within the rent?
Sometimes, council tax and utility bills are part of the overall monthly rent. It would help if you also asked about the average cost of bills and whether energy switching is permitted so you could switch energy suppliers to get a cheaper deal. You may also have a service charge included within your bills as well.
Am I allowed to have pets or redecorate?
Getting permission for either of these things is vital, or you could end up losing your deposit and being in breach of your contract.
Is there any parking?
If you have a car, you need to know whether renting a parking spot will cost you extra.
Who is living next door?
Renters who have managed to ask the existing tenant about what the next-door neighbours are like have always had a better idea of what to expect after moving in.
Now you know which questions to ask, you’ll be in the perfect position to find your dream home.