Buying a house is a complex journey that looks different for everyone, depending on their priorities, budget, and a whole host of other factors. It can involve a kaleidoscope of emotions, ranging from excitement and suspense to disappointment, joy, and everything in between.
It’s crucial to ask the right questions early on in the process to make sure you don’t waste any time in finding your perfect home.
When you come across what appears to be your dream house, it’s easy to get swept up at the moment and overlook something important (and end up cursing yourself for it later!)
To help you avoid this common pitfall, we’ve compiled a list of the most essential questions to ask when buying a new house.
1. What’s the area like?
Naturally, the first thing most people do when thinking about buying a house is suss out the local area.
You need to know if it suits your needs and priorities in relation to things like schools, childcare facilities, public transport, cycle lanes, etc., so find out as much information as you can from the estate agent.
Use this opportunity to get a vivid picture of what it’s like to live there. Is it mostly families, young professionals, or older people who live there? Is it a quiet neighbourhood? Is there ever any trouble in the area?
Finding out these details will help you make an informed decision before making an offer.
2. When was the house built?
Knowing how old the house is can give you valuable insights into its build quality and any structural issues or damage that may have occurred.
Ask how old the boiler is and check the condition of the windows, doors, and roof. This will give you a good indication of how much work you’ll need to do on the house.
When it comes to previously owned homes, we always recommend you get a structural survey completed.
3. How much interest has there been?
Ask the estate agent if there have been many enquiries, viewings and/or offers so far, since knowing what you’re up against will help you to plan and budget accordingly.
If it’s your dream home and it ticks all the other boxes, you may have to rethink how much you’re prepared to offer.
4. Why are the current owners selling the house?
Before you get too invested in the house, ask the agent why the current owners are selling. This can alert you to any potential red flags, from rising dampness to noisy neighbours.
5. When are the sellers moving out?
Finding out when they are planning to move will make it much easier for you to plan ahead, and it can also give you an idea of whether the sale will be quick and easy or long and drawn out.
If they’re looking for a quick sale, they might accept a lower offer — especially if you already have your mortgage approval in principle.
6. How long has it been on the market?
This is a really important question to ask. The presence of a house on the market for several months might indicate a problem with the area, the neighbours, or the house itself.
If there are no apparent issues but the house has been on the market for more than six months, you could be in a good position to negotiate the offer price.
7. What’s included in the sale?
Some sellers will leave the house completely empty, and others will leave whatever items you’ve both agreed on. If you’re really lucky, the house will come kitted out with furniture, appliances, curtains, blinds, fixtures and fittings.
Having these essentials already in place can help a new house feel homely from the get-go, and can make the moving process a lot easier.
8. How much are utilities?
Finding out how old the heating system is can give you an idea of how much it’ll cost to heat the house.
If possible, you should also find out how much utilities like gas, electricity and broadband usually cost. The agent should be able to get this information from the current owners.
9. What BER rating does it have?
All houses on the market must have a BER certificate that tells you how energy efficient it is.
If the house you’re looking at has a low BER rating (between E1 and G), then that means you’ll have to spend more on heating it. You may also have to invest in double- or triple-glazed windows, better insulation, etc. in order to increase the energy rating.
A house with a higher rating will be more efficient at retaining heat, resulting in lower energy bills and a warmer house.
10. Was planning permission granted for any extensions to be built?
If the current owners built an extension onto the house, make sure you confirm that the correct planning permission was granted for it.
If it wasn’t, then you may be ordered by the authorities to tear it down.
Your impartial broker for buying a house
Buying a house is an exciting, life-changing experience, but before you even think about making an offer, make sure you’ve asked these all-important questions.
You should also ensure that you have a trusted, impartial and reliable source for mortgage advice to help guide you through the process.
At Symmetry Financial Management, our team of mortgage advisors works with first-time buyers, switchers, home-movers, and investors to help you get the best rate on your mortgage, always.
Schedule a no-obligation appointment with one of our team today and begin your home-owning journey today.