25 Jun 2018
From scanning contracts to checking every light switch in the property, you want to make sure that you don’t miss anything that could be a crucial factor in you buying or not buying. One of the best things that you can do is talk directly to the seller themselves.: find out more about the house from their perspective as well as discover more about the surrounding area (especially if you’re unfamiliar with the location).
Below we have put together a list of some questions that you may want to ask the seller before you sign that contract, to make sure that the house you are buying is the perfect house for you.
Note: it is worth bearing in mind that some sellers may not want to answer some questions fully, so as to not put you off buying the property. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to how they answer the question, such as whether they are overly defensive or enthusiastic in order to cover something up, to try and grasp the whole situation.
Local Knowledge – use the fact that the seller has lived and breathed in the area to your advantage.
Is it safe: Has the area got a high crime rate? Has the house been burgled? Is it well-lit at night?
Schools: If you have children or are planning on having children, see what the seller’s impression or experience of the local schools is like. Don’t necessarily count on being able to move to a better area if you have children in the future – circumstances can change.
Shops and Amenities: How close is the nearest supermarket, hospital, police station etc? What local shops are available and what are they like? Get a better understanding of the surrounding area and how far you will have to travel to get basic provisions or help from the emergency services (especially if the property is quite remote).
Wi-fi and phone signal: As well as checking your phone signal when visiting the property, ask the seller how their phone signal holds up – if they are with a different provider to you they may have a different experience. Also, ask how fast the wi-fi is. This question is especially useful in more rural areas, where high-speed coverage is not as widespread.
Transport links: Enquire about public transport. Are the main bus routes regular? What are the local trains like? You may have your own personal vehicle now, but, if you were to find yourself without, how well connected are you?
Noise levels: How busy and loud is the area, especially at night? How noisy are the streets outside – worth asking if you are looking at somewhere in or near the city centre.
About the House – get those niche questions answered.
Appliances: Confirm which appliances come with the house and if there’s any room for negotiation. For any appliances you do get, find out how old they are. Older appliances are more likely to need to be replaced in the early days of you living there, causing you to spend even more money on the house soon after you move in.
Neighbours: Are they disruptive? This is not just to do with noise levels, but whether the seller has had issues with them, such as with parking.
Other costs: Enquire how much their utility bills and council tax cost them. This will need to be budgeted into your monthly expenditure on top of your mortgage, so you need to make sure that you can afford these additional costs. It is also worth finding out how well insulated the house is (especially if it is an older property), as well as applicable energy ratings because poor insulation could end up costing you a lot in heating bills.
Work that’s been done: Find out about any past renovations and work that has been done to the house. This is more useful for older houses as, if nothing has been done to the house for a while, you may have to work on it soon after moving in.
Parking: How easy is parking, generally in town and for the house? This is useful for houses that don’t have an allocated parking bay, but also for properties that have small drives, so you know if guests will have issues parking or not.
Selling history: Try and find out as much as you can about what issues the seller has faced in trying to sell the property. Has it been on the market for a long time? Have they had other offers that have fallen through? If either of these questions come back positive, then you need to ask yourself why this is the case.
About the Seller – find out more about the owner.
How long have they lived there: If the seller has lived there for a long time, this suggests that the house and area is generally quite good. Of course, it is worth keeping in mind that, more recently, a change to their situation may have caused them to want to move.
Why are they moving: This question is one that the seller may not answer fully, so it is important to pay close attention to how they react and answer the question, as this could reveal more about their situation than what they verbally tell you. However, that does not mean that you should not pay attention to what they say. If they are moving with their job, for instance, this suggests that they may be wanting to sell quite quickly, and therefore you may be able to get the house for a lower price.
Their moving situation: Have they found their next property and, if so, do they have a long chain above them? Both factors could affect how long it will take before you can move in. The longer it takes for them to find their next place increases the chance that the sale will fall through.
Hopefully, you should now have a better idea about useful questions to ask the seller, before you finalise buying their property.