Residential conveyancing solicitor, Victoria Cranwell, highlights some of the questions you should ask when viewing a house.
Victoria is available on 01225 462871. Alternatively, you can contact her by email, or by completing the Contact Form at the foot of this page. Conveyancing quotes are also available online.
No matter how perfect a property appears, you should always ask some careful questions before making an offer. Although a considerable amount of information will be revealed during the conveyancing process, flushing out any problems from the outset can save time and expense. There’s no standard list of questions, and those you ask will to some extent be influenced by the property itself and its location.
Estate agents generally do not like you speaking directly to a seller, but they cannot stop you from doing so. Remember, unlike an agent, a seller cannot feign ignorance in response to questions such as why they are moving, or what the neighbours are like!
How long has the property been on the market?
If a property has been on the market for a long time, is it simply overpriced or has something deterred other potential buyers? If it’s been on the market for a while, the seller may be more tempted by a lower offer.
Is there a chain, and if so, how long?
Has the seller found a property? How does their timescale compare to yours? If the chain is long, there’s a greater chance of it breaking.
Why are they selling?
This is a particularly important question if they have only been there a short time. Is there a problem with the area, or perhaps with the neighbours? Is parking an issue or is proposed local development driving them away?
Conversely, if the seller has been there a long time, there’s a good chance they have an emotional attachment to the property. They may also be concerned for their neighbours, who will undoubtedly be apprehensive about who will end up living next door. In such cases, achieving the best price may not be the seller’s only consideration and you will need to turn on the charm. Certainly, think twice before highlighting all of the changes you are planning to the property!
What are the neighbours like?
While a seller is obliged to disclose any disputes with neighbours, it’s a good idea to find out a little more about them generally. After all, you will be living in very close proximity to them!
Is there any proposed development locally that may affect the property?
Local development may affect not only the aesthetics of the area but also issues such as traffic volume, parking, noise, pollution and the availability of places at local schools.
What’s included in the sale?
What fixtures and fittings are included? What about the greenhouse and the shed? Might the seller consider selling to you something they otherwise intended to take with them?
What’s the local area like?
If you are new to the area, you may be interested in local schools and other amenities. Public transport may be an important consideration for you. Also, what are the negative points? Weekday traffic noise, loud local pubs and nightspots and parking availability may not be readily apparent at the time of your viewing.
What work has the seller done to the property?
For major work, have all the necessary permissions been obtained? Do they have receipts and guarantees? Are there any problems they are aware of? In terms of work that may be required, ask how old the boiler is and whether it’s been serviced annually. Do they have good water pressure?
You should also ask them whether the property has ever flooded.
Is the property listed or in a conservation area?
If so, you may be significantly restricted in what you can do to the property, both inside and out.
What’s the internet speed?
Twenty years ago, that would not have been an issue. Now, it can be a deciding factor!