Questions to ask when viewing a property

It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to buying a home. Anyone who has bought a property before will tell you that as you move through the process and once you move in, you’re likely to find things you didn’t notice or know about when you viewed the house or flat. From the minor to the major, a new home can spring a lot of surprises on you, so it’s important you reduce the likelihood of getting a big shock by asking the right questions before you put an offer in. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the things you might like to ask when you view a property.

1. Why are you moving? This might give you an idea as to whether there are any issues with the house or area forcing the move. You might also be able to glean some insight into any timelines they’re working to, which might influence how quickly you can get into the house.

2. Is the property freehold or leasehold? Freehold means you own the property and the land on which it stands. Leasehold is slightly more complicated as you only own the property for a fixed term and you do not own the land. This is usually found with flats, but some houses can also be leasehold. If you’re thinking of purchasing a leasehold property, make sure you find out when the lease expires.

3. Are there any fees associated with owning the property, such as ground rent? You’ll need to make a decision about whether you’re willing to pay these on top of your mortgage and you’ll need to factor them into your costs when working out whether or not you can afford the property.

4. How old is the boiler and when was the last time it was checked by a registered professional? Old boilers are likely to break, leaving you with a huge bill to replace or repair them. It’s often recommended that you replace a boiler every 15 years, so if the boiler is around this age, you might need to re-think. Boilers also need to be serviced regularly and if a vendor hasn’t serviced theirs for a long time, the risks of something going wrong are higher.

5. What’s the transport like in the area? Are you close to a train station or bus route? This will be important to ensure you can get from A to B, especially if you don’t have a car.

6. What are the neighbours like? Neighbours can make or break your experience of living in a property, so it’s worth trying to gauge whether they’re friendly, loud, the sort to keep themselves to themselves, etc.

7. What is the traffic like? Traffic can be noisy when it’s right outside your house or it can make access to your property difficult. Ask for an idea of what it’s like and when peak times are. It might even be worth visiting the property at different times of the day to get an idea yourself.

8. What are the boundaries and are there any issues? If you’re not sure where your property ends and your neighbour’s begins, you might find yourself dealing with boundary dispute. Be clear what belongs to you and what doesn’t straight away.

9. If there is a private road leading to the house, who maintains it and pays for it? This could be an unexpected cost and one you’re not willing to pay, so find out before it’s too late.

10. Are there any shared access points/public rights of way and who maintains these/pays for the upkeep? Like above, this could result in unexpected costs or there may be limitations on what you can and can’t do to your property.

11. Have you ever been burgled? As well as looking at crime statistics for the area, it’s also worth asking the vendor if they’ve been burgled, as it might give you an idea of how secure the property is.

12. Have you ever been flooded? This is an important one for insurance purposes. If there’s a flood risk, it’s important you discover it before you put an offer in.

13. Have you done any updating or renovating? Do you have any receipts or warranties for this work? Alterations to a property, while often a good thing, need to be flagged in case something goes wrong and you’re left dealing with it.

14. What, if anything, are you planning to leave behind? You need to know what you’re buying, so there’s no harm in asking. This is about making sure you get the best price and avoid any nasty surprises later on in the process.

15. Is there any damp? Have you ever had any problems with damp? As well as looking bad, damp can be a health hazard (especially for people with asthma) and can make the house structurally unsound.

16. Can I switch on the taps? It’s always advised to switch the taps on so you can have a look at water pressure and check that the water runs the right colour.

If you can think of any other essential questions to ask when viewing a property, let us know on Twitter @useyournoddle or on Facebook @noddleuk.

Don’t forget, if you’re planning on buying a home, you need to check your credit score before applying for a mortgage to see how lenders might view you.