Viewing a house checklist: Key questions to ask when buying

Viewing a house checklist: Key questions to ask when buying
We've all been there.

You've sold your property and now the pressure is on to find your next home.

And when the pressure is on, it's easy to take your eye off the ball and fail to consider the things to look for when viewing a house.

Most successes in property come down to preparation and it really does pay to draw up a checklist when viewing a house.

Let's start with some key questions to ask a seller when buying a house.

House viewing questions

Of course, there's a strong chance you'll be shown around the property you're viewing by an estate agent.

But if you're lucky enough to have a guided tour from the seller, it can present a real opportunity to get some answers you simply wouldn't get from an agent.

Focus on assessing the seller's personal experience of living in the property and look out for any tell-tell signs of problems - particularly if they are cagey giving answers.

1 Why are you selling?

You might think this is an obvious one and it is.

But it's a question that an estate agent may not be able to answer fully, so asking the seller can give you a great idea why they're moving on.

2 What work has been done?

If the seller has undertaken work on the property, now is the opportunity to find out more about it.

What work was done and who did it? Was it a professional contractor or a DIY effort?

Also ask about certificates and guarantees for any work and satisfy yourself that the correct planning permission was obtained if it were needed.

3 Have you found your next property?

This is a great question to ask a seller as it will give you an idea how quickly they may be able to proceed.

If you've already sold your home and have your own buyers pressurising over timings, buying from a seller yet to find their next property might not be a good move.

But if they are moving into a rental property, that could be the flexibility you need.

4 How are the neighbours?

We know what you're thinking: A seller isn't going to tell me if their neighbours are noisy or problematic. 

And that may be true, of course.

But sellers are legally obliged to disclose information if they are asked for it directly, so this is a question well worth throwing into the mix.

5 Why did the previous owners sell?

Finding out about a property's history can reveal plenty of useful information for buyers.

And you should always look further into the past than the current owners.

Try to find out why the previous owners sold up from the current seller.

Things to look for when viewing a house

As well as your voice when asking those key questions to a seller, your eyes are even more important when viewing a house.

Try not to get caught up in too much talking, as important as asking those questions is.

After all, the most important part of a viewing is having a good look around a property. If you're too focused on talking to the seller or the agent, you could miss things. 

1 Do a drive-by

If you're able to, it can be worth driving past a property, and around the area, before you view it.

Many buyers waste vital time looking at properties they know very quickly won't work for them.

So, take a drive around and past the property. It could tell you that it's not for you, in which case you can save yourself time and not waste that of the seller, either.

2 Thoroughly look around the property's exterior

It's amazing how many buyers don't look around the outside of properties they view.

Of course, you spend most of your time inside your home.

But checking a property's exterior can sometimes reveal issues, like damp, that can be hidden or covered up inside.

Check for peeling paint, cracked brickwork or loose tiles on the roof before you even step inside a property.

3 Check plumbing

Often buyers are too scared to touch anything when viewing a house.

But if you're potentially going to be spending big, you have a right to know what works and what doesn't.

And when it comes to expensive surprises after you've picked up the keys, plumbing it one of the worst.

On your viewing, don't be afraid to turn on taps and check pressure and hot water temperature.

Also ask for the heating to be turned on briefly - even in summer.

4 Are the electrics adequate?

When viewing each room, consider what you would want to use it for and check to see if there are enough electric points.

Perhaps you're thinking of using a small bedroom as a home office. If so, count up the number of sockets and measure the room to ensure your equipment will both fit and be useable. 

5 Mobile phone signal

In this day and age, it's important to be connected.

So, when on a viewing, switch on your mobile phone in each room and check your signal.

Also take the time to ask the seller or agent about broadband connectivity in the area.

If you are looking to buy in London, take a look at Ellis & Co's available properties.