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7 Questions to ask your estate agent when viewing a house

22/06/2017

If you are in the process of viewing potential homes to buy, you’ll know how much there is to learn about every property before you commit. Not only do you need to decide if the house could become a home, but you also need to get a feel for the details, like its EPC rating and council tax band.

To make things a little easier, we have listed 7 essential questions to ask your estate agent, to help you make the best decision:

1.    What is included in the sale?

This question comes first, as knowing exactly what is included in the sale can help you stay within budget. It helps you to identify what your outgoings will be and where you can potentially save money. Is the dishwasher included? How about the greenhouse, or the light fittings? You will be able to make a much more informed decision when you know exactly what you’ll be getting for your money.

2. Which council tax band is the property in?

This is an easy one to overlook whilst you are viewing a property, but council tax will be a constant factor you’ll need to consider if you do move into the property. If it is a higher band than you are used to, you will need to budget for this and may need to cut back on some outgoings. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but a key question to ask the estate agent, that could influence your decision.

3. Have the current owners found a suitable property to buy yet? 

Again, it might not be top of your checklist but this can become a huge influence on how smoothly the moving process goes. Getting involved in a long chain is likely to hold up things, so depending on the urgency of your move, you’ll want to consider this when making up your mind. Keep in mind that a chain will move at the speed of the slowest link, so long chains are ideally avoided so there are fewer complications, making the process easier for you.

4. Can you explain the Energy Performance Certificate?

Not to be forgotten, next is the energy performance question. The EPC of a property states how energy efficient the house is, by taking a number of factors into account, from the loft insulation to the boiler. The property will be given an EPC rating from G (least efficient) up to A rated (most efficient) and is valid for 10 years. Chat to your estate agent about the property’s EPC. For those looking to buy a property to let, as of 2018 all properties will need to be an E or above rating, so consider this when you view houses too. You can read more about the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for landlords in our blog. 

5. Has the property been on the market for a long time?

This question gives you an immediate indication to how desirable the house or apartment is. If the property has been on the market for over 3 months, it is worth finding out how much interest there has been. Is this a trend for the area or just this house? This could be down to the location, price or many other reasons, but some insight from the estate agent puts into perspective how popular the property is.

6. How long have the owners lived there and why are they moving?

If you find the perfect property for you, this question may not even feel relevant. Yet, it is an important one, and knowing why the current owners are moving gives some context for the sellers move. If the current owners have only lived there a matter of months, you’ll want to find out why. It could be down to difficult neighbours or a work-based travel move, but if you don’t ask, you’ll be left with doubts.

7. Is the property freehold and leasehold?

This comes down to personal preference, but you will need to know whether you’ll have outright ownership of the property or not. If the property is freehold, you will have complete ownership of the property and the land it stands on – and most importantly, there is no time limit to that ownership.Leasehold properties have a fixed term ownership of a property but not the land on which it stands. So, owning the property will be subject to annual ground rent payment and service charge.

Most leases last for around 999 years but some modern building have shorter leases of around 125 years. Any lease less than 100 years should be questioned as it is likely the lease will need to be extended, costing more money. Once any lease expires, ownership reverts to the freeholder. For many, this can be a deciding factor, so be sure to ask your estate agent this question.

If you are looking to buy a property, we can help you to sell your current property and find the new home of your dreams. Take a look at some of the properties we have to offer on our website and give our sales team a call on 0117 329 4800.

 
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