Update – the companion notebook, the Homebuyer’s Journal, is now available to buy!
Questions to ask when viewing a house for sale:
If you’re a first-time house buyer, you might be excited about making your big purchase, but you might feel a bit overwhelmed too.
When I was viewing houses to buy, I was worried about getting it wrong – not asking the right questions, or missing something important. So I wrote up a list to take with us on our next viewing, and it really helped me to feel confident and assured… and we bought that house!
Two and a half years later, we sold it for £20,000 more than we had paid for it, with only about £2000 spent on refurbishment. (Have a look at the finished product here.) So yep, ask the right questions and be forearmed before you buy, and it can work out well for you!
Here’s my list of homebuying questions.
I just discovered my list in an old handbag, so I decided to turn it into a post to help anyone else who might be worrying about what to look out for when viewing a house.
Some of the questions will let you know whether to walk away, and some will let you know how much money you will need to spend to get the house up to scratch. Some may not be relevant to your house, but hopefully there will be enough to make you feel more confident about the viewing process.
Answer some of these questions before you even view…
Moreover, some of these questions are the kind that you can answer without having to do a viewing. You can research the property’s history and location online, as well as look up crime statistics in the area. The Land Registry website will give you useful information.
Questions to ask when viewing a house for sale
1. Is there any evidence of damp? (Can you see it, smell it, or is there a smell of fresh paint that could be a trick to cover up damp?)
2. Is there enough storage space for you?
3. Are the walls structurally sound? Look for cracks, but also look for evidence of cracks being covered up by wallpaper that doesn’t look right or paint applied over filler)
4. Is the chimney in good condition?
5. Are the windows sound? Will any of the glazing need to be replaced?
6. If the house has a bay front and uPVC windows, are the window mullions load-bearing or has the load been left to rest on the replacement windows? (This happens a lot and looks like subsidence when the front of the house cannot support its own weight!)
7. Do the ground floor windows have locks, and are any of the keys missing?
8. Is the loft insulated? If so, when was it done?
9. Is there any sound proofing in the house? Try viewing at different times to hear how much of the neighbours and/or street noise you can hear.
10. Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms?
11. Is there adequate mobile reception indoors? How’s the broadband service in the area?
12. What council tax band is the property in?
13. Ask to see the boiler – how old is it? When was it last serviced?
14. Does the boiler use a water tank? If so, where is it and what condition is it in?
15. What type of fuel does the boiler run on – mains gas, oil, bottled gas, solid fuel?
16. Do the radiators heat evenly?
17. Ask to see the fuse board – is the wiring up to date?
18. What type of gas and electricity meters are there installed – are they credit meters, prepayment (coin or key) meters, standard or smart meters?
19. What condition are the power sockets and switches in?
20. Are all of the lights working? If not, why not?
21. Is the water supply metered?
22. Does the property have any lead pipes fitted?
23. What kind of drainage system does the property have – mains drainage or a septic tank?
24. Is there any asbestos in the property, or has there ever been an asbestos survey carried out?
25. What kind of roof does the property have? If it’s thatched, when is the next re-thatching due?
26. What condition is the roof in – does it sag, are there any missing tiles or is there evidence of damage?
27. Is the guttering sound? Is there any plant life growing in it, or does it need any repair work?
28. Have there been any major works to the property? If so, who carried them out and did they provide a warranty?
29. Were any extensions or other works carried out under the correct planning permissions?
30. Are there any trees growing within 5 metres of the property?
31. Are there any restrictive covenants applying to the property?
32. Are there, or have there been, any boundary disputes with neighbours?
33. Are there any shared driveways or communal spaces?
34. Are there any public rights of way passing through the property? (Or close to the property?)
35. Which way does the garden face, and are there any parts of the garden that get no sunlight throughout the day? Use this app to track the sun’s movement over the property without even viewing it!
36. What’s the reason for the sale? How long have the sellers lived there?
37. What is the neighbourhood like, and are there any social problems to be aware of?
38. How old is the property? (Useful to know for figuring out whether there may be lead paint, asbestos or other banned materials used in its construction.)
39. What is included in the sale, and what isn’t? (Appliances, light fittings, soft furnishings.)
40. Is the property leasehold or freehold? If leasehold, how long is left on the lease? Try to find out how much others have paid to buy the freehold.
One more question…
Lastly, and somewhat cheekily, what’s the lowest price you can get this house for?
Over to you…
Let me know what you think about this list, and add your suggested questions in the comments below.