Key Questions to Ask an Estate Agent

24th February 2014 posted in Property News Buyers

Buying a new home is a very exciting prospect, after renting a place for years having your own house finally means you can put down your roots and release your hidden interior design skills on every single room, knowing that you are decorating your very own home.

While you may be ready to jump straight onto the housing ladder, it is important to remember that this is one of the biggest financial events that will take place in your life, so it is important to get it right. There is a lot to think about and many questions to ask to ensure that you are as fully informed as possible on any property that may peak your interest.

With house prices set to rise for the next decade, it is important that you get as much as you can for your money and end up with the best result possible. Although the whole house buying process can seem incredibly overwhelming, there are some key questions to ask your estate agent that will help make sure you know as much as possible in any situation:

What's the Neighbourhood Like?

This is quite a broad question, and quite a risky one if you have narrowed down your house search to just one neighbourhood, but it is better to find out sooner rather than later. They might not want to be completely uncomplimentary about any given area, so think of a few more specific questions that will help you decide for yourself, such as “what amenities are near by?” and “what are the transport options like?”

Will There be Potential for Negotiation?

If you are a first time buyer or on a tight budget, then this question can be very important. Not only will it clarify whether the property could fit in with your financial situation, but it could also highlight some potential problems. Where an instant negotiation to a much lower price may initially sound like a good thing, it should also ring alarm bells – if they are desperate to sell the property, you need to know why.

How Long has The Property Been on the Market?

This may be the most important question you ask, as it will give you a very accurate indication of how popular the property actually is. If it has been on the market for longer than six months, then the likelihood is that no one else has been interested in it and you need to ask yourself why. Also take into consideration the time of year, as people are much less likely to buy a new house over the autumn and winter months.

Has There Been any Recent Damage or Repairs?

When you are at a viewing it is easy to miss any damage or repairs inside and outside the house, as you are only usually there for a quick five minutes. It is important to know if you are going to end up with a damaged house if you do make the decision to purchase. Similarly, it is essential to ask whether any repairs have recently taken place, as the last thing you want is a poorly fixed house on your hands.

How Long Have the Previous Owners Lived There and Why are They Selling?

As much as anything, it is very interesting to know why people are moving out of a house, whether they are moving somewhere bigger or smaller, or perhaps moving away from the area completely. If they haven't lived in the property for very long and are moving to a similarly sized house just round the corner, it is very likely that they are moving due to a dislike of the property. It could show a potential problem with the house itself.

Is the Property Listed and Does it Have Planning Permission?

If you are viewing a property and just imagining how perfect the conservatory of your dreams would look added onto the back wall, the first thing to check is whether the building is listed. You should be able to find out quite easily whether the building is listed, and if it isn't whether there are any previous records of planning permits that have been rejected in the past. If either of these are the case, then you might need to reconsider.

Can I Talk to the Seller?

This might seem like an odd question, as estate agents are usually hired to do all the talking when it comes to selling a property, but sometimes it is nice to be able to ask those who have experienced the property properly your questions. They will know for example whether John and Sarah next door have dogs that bark or whether the area is popular with bus loads of tourists at the weekends. You don't know until you ask, and if you do ask and they refuse to answer then you know its unlikely to be a good situation.

How Much Interest has the Property had and Have Their Been any Offers?

If you are keen on a property but not sure how fast you want to move, knowing how much interest it has already had could be the difference between whether you become the new successful owners. If a house has not received much interest, then there must be a reason and alternatively if it has a full week of viewings coming up then you will know you have competition. If there have already been offers on the property, then find out how much they are so you know where you stand if you decide to make an offer too.

There are lots of different things to consider when checking out a property, but with answers to all the questions above you should have all the information you need to know whether it is something you want to pursue. Estate agents are usually very friendly and like to help as much as possible, so don't be afraid to ask!

Hunters have over 100 offices nationwide including Hammersmith