Buying a property can be an intimidating task. The stakes are high and you can never be sure what information is being withheld from you. When you first start viewing houses it can easily be overwhelming – there’s a lot to consider that could cost you in the long run if overlooked, so you need to go into property viewing with a game plan. A preloaded list of questions to ask the estate agent or owner can help uncover any nasty surprises early on. There’s a legal requirement for them to tell you the truth, so if you ask the right questions you’ll be able to make the process a lot less daunting. We’ve prepared a preloaded list of questions for you to consider when viewing a house to make it less intimidating:

1. Why is the property being sold?

99% of the time it’s a completely valid reason, but it’s good to know why the owners want to sell. Is it to downsize? Go bigger? Move out of the area or closer to certain facilities? It’s good to understand the mindset of the people who have been living there.

2. What exactly is included?

It’s good to know EXACTLY what you get when buying the house. Knowledge is power. Do the fixtures and fittings come included? Where are the property boundaries? Who is responsible for the fences? Don’t just presume – ask or you may be disappointed on moving day.

3. Have the owners lived there long? Has the property changed hands often?

If the owners have only recently moved there and are moving again, that could spell trouble. If that’s the case then it’s good to find out if the property has changed hands often, and if there’s a trend then that’s definitely a red flag.

4. What offers have they had so far?

The estate agent may not be able to give you any details of the offers, but they’re able to tell if there are existing offers and this will help you get a feel for how much attention the property is getting.

5. What are the schools like in the local area?

Schools performance can vary massively – ask about any local schools and check out their last Ofsted reports.  It’s always good to plan ahead and whilst young couples may not be expecting a family soon, it’s clearly beneficial to be in the catchment area for any high performing schools.

6. Have the sellers found another home?

An often overlooked part of the viewing/buying process is discussing what part of the process the sellers are at – have they found another home? Is there an onward chain? The longer the chain, the longer the wait may be to exchange on the property.

7. Is there anything to worry about with the property surroundings?

Pay attention to the surroundings. Come back to the property at peak times to take note of how the traffic & parking is. Are you at the bottom of a hill? Is that a flood risk? Which way does the property face? If the garden faces north then that could mean little to no sunlight.

8. What is the area like?

You may know the area quite well, but it’s work asking.  What sort of transport links are nearby? Is there a nearby shop or supermarket? Are there any busy restaurants that could cause traffic at certain times?

9. Have there been any major building work?

Check to see if there have been any major changes or additions made to the property – was there planning permission for that extension? Have they had planning permission recently approved or refused?

10. How much are the bills?

You want as exact an ideal as possible with this – the more you know about the running costs the better it’ll be when you move in. There’s not much worse than underbudgeting.

11. Are there any structural issues?

Subsidence can be a sinkhole for money. Watch out for any big cracks, as well as any big rooted trees on or near the property boundary.

12. Are there any issues with the electric and plumbing?

Try the taps to check if there’s a delay, as well as if the water pressure is suitable. Ask about the state of the boiler – how old is it? Is it still under warranty with a gas safety certificate in place? When was the house last rewired? You want a guarantee that any electric or gas works were carried out by an accredited company.

13. What are the neighbours like?

Especially important in terraced & semi-detached houses – what are the neighbours like? If they enjoy a party or are a loud family, you could be stuck hearing them all the time.