There are lots of things worth planning for before viewing a property to buy or rent. And none are more important than preparing a list of questions to ask the estate agent showing you round.
It's very easy to get caught up in the way a property looks or makes you feel. Therefore it's also very easy to forget some of the things you wanted to ask.
Try to view a property with your head as well as your heart. Asking these 9 questions will help you get a better understanding of the property you're viewing. And that means being able to make a far more informed decision on whether to make an offer or sign that tenancy agreement!
1. WHY IS THE OWNER SELLING?
Of all the questions to ask at a house viewing, the agent doesn't have to answer this one due to its slightly personal nature. But they should know and if they enlighten you, it can be a massive help when deciding whether to offer or where to pitch that offer.
Perhaps they are desperate to sell because of a change in financial circumstances or because of a move due to work. That could mean they are open to a slightly lower offer to move quickly... well worth finding out.
2. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE SALE / TENANCY?
When pondering making an offer on a property, it's important to know what you would be getting. Equally for renters, ask this question if the property you are viewing is furnished.
Does it include the lovely unit in the dining room and the wardrobes in the bedrooms?
For buyers, will the sellers be leaving the garden shed and fixtures and fittings and would they be open to including the kitchen white goods in the sale?
3. HOW LONG HAS THE PROPERTY BEEN ON THE MARKET?
A property that has been on the market for longer than three months is worth looking into a little deeper. Ask the agent why they think it hasn't sold. It could be overpriced, in which case a lower offer may be acceptable, or perhaps there is a problem others have realised that you are not aware of.
For renters, the same applies. There could be scope to make a lower offer on the monthly rent, although this is rarely advised.
4. HOW LONG HAVE THE OWNERS / CURRENT TENANTS LIVED THERE?
This is important. If the owners are selling or tenants are moving out after a short period of time, there could be a problem with the house or neighbours.
5. HAS THE PROPERTY CHANGED HANDS A LOT?
As with question four, this is hugely important and can flag up a serious issue if you can't count the property's previous owners on two hands.
Try to find out why the previous owners moved out. In the case of a rental, lots of tenants in a very short space of time should set the alarm bells ringing.
6. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THE ASKING PRICE?
A quality estate agent will be able to justify the property's asking price and explain how they reached the figure. They should be able to provide statistics on the local area for similar properties and give you an overview of the current market conditions.
Moreover, they might be honest and reveal that the owner insisted on a slightly inflated asking price.
7. HOW LOW WILL THE VENDOR GO?
You should already know the seller's reasons for selling so with that in mind, ask the agent what they think would be acceptable as a bottom line offer. If you don't ask, you don't get and the agent should be able to give you an indication if they know their client's aims and needs.
8. WHAT WORK HAS BEEN CONDUCTED AT THE PROPERTY?
If major work has been undertaken at the property, ask the agent if you can look at the planning documents. This is worth checking out before making an offer in case any work has been done without the relevant planning consent.
9. WHAT COUNCIL TAX BAND IS THE PROPERTY IN AND WHAT ARE THE UTILITY BILL COSTS?
When budgeting for a house purchase or rental, these are important details. You are potentially taking on a large mortgage or rental commitment, so knowing all the other financial costs you will be faced with will help you establish the affordability of the property.
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