Why Are the Sellers Moving Out?

When viewing a house in Britain, ask why the sellers are moving. Their reasons can be useful.

Are they splitting up? They might be keen on a fast sale and accept a lower offer to get the money divided. 

Perhaps they’ve already bought another place and don’t fancy two mortgages. Again, a quick sale might be their priority, giving you room to negotiate.

Knowing their situation lets you tailor your offer. This could save you money or get you a better deal overall.

How Long Has the Property Been Listed?

The length of time a property has been on the market can tell you a lot about its desirability and the seller’s situation.

A property lingering on the market for months can be a warning sign. So don’t hesitate to ask the estate agent why it hasn’t sold. They must tell you anything important that could affect your decision. Press them for details if it’s been on the market a very long time.

There could be hidden problems like subsidence or boundary disputes putting buyers off. 

But this can work in your favour. If there’s a genuine reason for the slow sale, the sellers might be more willing to negotiate on price to get a deal done quickly.

On the other hand, if the property is newly listed, the sellers might be less flexible with their price. However, acting quickly might be necessary if you find it meets all your needs.

Knowing how long it’s been up for sale helps you judge the urgency and plan your negotiating strategy.

Has the Home’s Value Changed Recently?

Thanks to online resources like the Land Registry, it’s easy to look up a property’s sales history these days. 

But what really matters is how its value compares to similar homes nearby, and how that’s changed recently.

Here’s where the estate agent can be helpful. Ask them straight up how the house’s valuation has changed lately and why. Their answer might reveal important details about the market you hadn’t considered.

For example, if house prices in the area have dropped because of a new road being built, you might have grounds to negotiate a lower offer.

What’s the Lowest Price the Seller Will Take?

Sometimes, it pays to be bold and cut right to the chase. After all, estate agents want to secure a sale and earn their commission, so they’ll often hint at the seller’s lowest acceptable price if pressed.

Knowing the seller’s rock-bottom figure from the get-go allows you to structure your opening offer more strategically. It could also help avoid a lengthy back-and-forth negotiation process further down the line.

Of course, the estate agent may play their cards close to their chest initially. But it never hurts to ask directly – you might just get the insider information you need.

Have Any Offers Been Made?

Speaking of insider information, the estate agent is unlikely to disclose the exact amounts of any other offers made on the property. However, they’ll often drop hints about whether offers have been received at all.

If you can glean that other buyers have already expressed interest, it gives you a better idea of how much competition you’re up against. And that knowledge enables you to put your best foot forward with a strong opening offer from the outset.

Alternatively, if it seems like tumbleweed has been rolling through the listing, you may be able to negotiate a bargain price for an unmotivated seller.

What’s the Bigger Picture in the Local Area?

When viewing a potential home, it’s easy to get caught up in the smaller details and overlook the wider context of the local area. 

But the neighbourhood you’ll be living in is just as important as the house itself.

Start by asking the estate agent about important things nearby: schools, transport, shops, parks, and so on. 

But don’t just rely on their word. Do your own research to check their claims and get a well-rounded picture.

Ask them too about any planned building work, big developments, or changes in the area that might affect things like house prices, peace and quiet, or how popular the area is. 

Knowing what’s coming down the line can help you decide if it’s the right place for you. After all, being informed is key.

Is the Property Freehold or Leasehold?

This is an absolute must-ask when viewing any property. 

When buying freehold, you outright own both the house and the land it’s on. This typically means fewer limitations and no ground rent to pay.

Leasehold properties are different. You’ll own the building for the length of the lease, but not the land itself. It’s crucial to find out how many years remain on the lease.

A short lease can make the property harder to sell and getting a mortgage difficult. You should also inquire about any service charges or ground rent that might apply.

If the estate agent skips over this info, ask them directly. And if it’s a leasehold, get a copy of the lease agreement to check the details. This could be a make-or-break factor.

Have Any Major Renovations Been Done?

We’ve all heard horror stories about cowboy builders operating without proper permissions and leaving a trail of structurally unsound nightmares in their wake. 

Needless to say, you’ll want to steer well clear of any such properties.

Before you make an offer, ask the estate agent directly if the current owners made any major renovations. If they did, get copies of the approved planning permission and Building Regulations certificates.

If the paperwork isn’t available or the works look unlawful, you’re well within your rights to walk away from the sale. 

Unapproved renovations can lead to delays and extra costs, such as paying for indemnity insurance later on.

You can also search online for planning applications on the local planning authority website. It’s vital to check that all permissions are in place to avoid future problems. 

If you decide to buy the property, a building survey and your conveyancing solicitor can confirm the legality and safety of the renovations.

Making sure the renovations are above board protects you from potential issues and gives you peace of mind.

What’s Included in the Sale Price?

One area where estate agents can often inadvertently mislead is what’s included in the advertised sale price. Always ask exactly what you’re getting for your money.

For example, are particular fixtures, fittings or pieces of furniture being thrown in? Are outbuildings like sheds, garages and greenhouses part of the deal? And where exactly do the property’s legal boundaries lie?

The details might be in the paperwork, but it’s best to confirm everything directly. This avoids any nasty surprises later on if you make assumptions that aren’t true.

What Questions Should You Ask the Homeowner Directly?

Estate agents are obliged to act in the best interests of their client (the seller) first and foremost. 

So while they have to be truthful with you, they may avoid being completely transparent if it could jeopardise their earning a commission.

With this in mind, it’s generally a wise move to try and chat with the seller directly during a house viewing, if possible. 

They’re just like you, a homeowner, and might be more likely to tell you the truth about things the estate agent might gloss over.

This could include:

  • What they love and hate most about living there
  • Any ongoing disputes with neighbours
  • Minor household quirks and maintenance issues
  • How old the property is 
  • The real reason they’re moving

The seller might tell you things that could be important factors in your decision to buy or not.

What Else Should You Check at the House Viewing?

Beyond questioning the estate agent, there are plenty of other senses you should employ when viewing a property. 

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, but actually experiencing a place is priceless.

Once you’ve covered the essential questions, try to take a step back and simply observe the little details that could signal bigger problems. For example:

  • Are there any damp patches on walls or musty odours hinting at moisture issues?
  • Do all exterior windows and doors open and close smoothly?
  • Test out running taps to check the water pressure is adequate
  • Look out for cracks in ceilings or uneven floors suggesting subsidence
  • Try and move furniture around to inspect what’s underneath for further defects
  • Make sure you get quality time to look at the attic, basement and outdoors too

Additionally, ask to see the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This document provides information on the property’s energy efficiency and potential energy costs. It can help you understand if the house will be expensive to heat and maintain.

The key is to engage all your senses, be inquisitive, and trust your gut instinct. If anything seems amiss, make a note of your concerns and be sure to raise them with the estate agent or seller.

The Bottom Line: Ask the Right Questions at a House Viewing

There you have it – all the essential questions to ask at a house viewing before considering making an offer.

From grilling the estate agent on the finer details to establishing rapport directly with the sellers, being prepared is key.

Gathering enough information to make an informed decision about such a major investment is YOUR responsibility. 

Failing to ask the right questions now could lead to costly surprises later. Don’t let nerves or a competitive market rush you into skipping these crucial enquiries. 

A good estate agent will understand you need time to do your due diligence. If they seem impatient or give vague answers, it should raise a red flag about their trustworthiness.

Make a checklist of all the key questions beforehand and ensure you’ve ticked them all off by the end of the viewing. That way, you can proceed with confidence in your decision.

Buying a home is a huge moment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

By being inquisitive and thorough, you’ll maximise your chances of finding your dream property at the right price. 

Questions are your most powerful tool as a buyer – so use them wisely.

Additionally, a mortgage broker can be incredibly useful in this process. They can help you understand your financial options, find the best mortgage deals, and guide you through the financial aspects of buying a home.

Need a broker? Get in touch with us. We’ll connect you with a qualified mortgage broker to help you secure the best rates and make your home-buying experience smoother.