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Questions to ask when viewing
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN VIEWING?

So great, your ready to start viewing properties: As a couple, single or family you know what you want and have built a list of the likeable areas. Travelling to work will be fine, maybe the areas tie in with schools, or now your semi-retired the leisure centres nearby or accessible via the train or buses. You've worked out how much mortgage you can have in principle, or maybe how much your going to have over from the proceeds of selling your own. Remember, although you are looking to buy somewhere, always think of re-sale. If you want to move on make sure the property will be saleable again. Equally, buy your next home, as a home, with market increases you'll see profit. But if you buy something you don't like and the market dropped, or the area your in became blighted then you could be stuck there. Its much better to be stuck in somewhere that you like!

Pre Viewing Preparation
Before you go to view a house, try to do as much background research as you can on the property and the area so that you do not waste time seeing something that does not meet your needs.  

When you are ready to view, if you can, take someone else with you, (but someone who knows the real you)  maybe someone with different tastes who may spot things that you miss. 

Make sure you view the property during the day when you will be able to see better and spot problems. If you really like a property try to arrange to view it again at a different time of the day to give you a different perspective.

Remember, its your money you are spending so don't be afraid to ask direct and blunt questions about the property. Take your time, be nosy and don't be pressurised into making an offer.

Try not to view too many properties in one day, it can become confusing. Its often a good idea to take a camera with you especially if your partner can't view with you, but ask the owners permission first.

The Location
What are you area needs/ likes and dislikes:
  • nearby main roads, schools, colleges, or pubs and clubs can be useful but also noisy. (Also bear in mind that if at work in the day, schools neighbouring means people are near by, yet at the weekends, bar the odd fete schools can be quiet)
  • pylons are controversial
  • what are the views like
  • are there nearby railway lines, or flight paths and when do they operate
  • does the house get enough light or high winds
  • is the property well maintained
  • what are the local amenities like, ie shops, leisure facilities, hospitals and parks etc.
  • what is the area crime level like
  • are the locals friendly, often calling into the local pub and talking to the locals can reveal a lot that maybe the owner does'nt tell you, or the agent doesn’t know?
  • the condition of nearby and neighbouring properties
  • where and how good is the public transport
  • are the local schools good
  • is the surrounding are likely to be developed (check with the local authority) 
  • is the property in a conservation area
  • if a pond encroaches the border, stream, canal or river, who's responsible
  • what are the neighbours like? Are they noisy
  • has there ever been a dispute with the neighbours (or anyone living nearby)
The Dwelling
Things at the property to look for and questions to ask:
  • are there any signs of cracking or subsidence
  • have any timber or damp works been carried out, and if so how long ago and how long a guarantee is left
  • or is there the smell or feel of damp ie mould (which could be condensation) or wall paper peeling
  • if timber, are the window frames in good repair or soft, hence rotting
  • does the property need updating - if so, how much will this cost, ie when was it last rewired?
  • are there sufficient power points
  • where does the water turn off/stop cock
  • are there any guaranties/time remaining
  • are there any service agreements
  • tenure; is the property freehold, leasehold, commonhold or otherwise
  • the building age, if old is it a listed building and have any planning alterations been refused, or works done without consent
  • are the rooms big enough for you and the family
  • if newish: then does the house have an NHBC or architects certificate and have any snagging works been carried out
  • will the furniture fit
  • what is included in the sale - fixtures and fittings etc   
  • how much is Council Tax and the average costs of other utility? bills such as electricity, gas, water
  • if in the country whats the drainage, mains? or private ie cesspool, septic tank and if cesspool when was it last emptied and what cost
  • why are the sellers moving
  • how is the water heated? Combination boiler or tank, etc
  • have there been any problems with the boiler; when was it last serviced by a Corgi engineer
    does the house have full central heating? If so, how old is it
  • who owns what boundaries and what are the fences like and whats the garden size
    if there is a loft has it a stairway and was building consent obtained, ask to see paperwork, has it been insulated? If so, how long ago
  • does the property have cavity wall insulation
  • was a grant issued on any building works
  • has any part of the property been altered and if so are the relevant planning and building control consents available to inspect, this could include windows being replaced or a wall removed between say two receptions
  • how many cupboards and storage areas are there
  • is there space for the pets? and if you’ve got a dog are the boundaries secure
  • the main question has got to be. Could you live here, could this be home
The Owners/Occupiers
It is important to know why the property is being sold and that it will be vacant when you want to move in.
  • Let Homes: if a property is tenanted find out how long the tenancy has to run, and if notice has yet been served. Tenants may not want to move and give you all the horror stories about the property.
  • Probate: A property might be empty, here ask the agent as to ownership, it may be that it is part of an estate, here check that probate is in order and how many parties have to decide on offers.
  • Owners: If the property is occupied by the owners, ask their plans and if they have somewhere to go. If the owner that you meet is going through separation ask if the other party has agreed on the selling price, in not amicable such a sale may not be smooth.
Other important questions include
  • How long has the property been on the market
  • If you haven’t seen it at the agents or on-line ask to see the HIP
  • Has there been any sales, if so what happened? who pulled out? and WHY?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • What are the neighbours like and what shared areas are there such as fences and driveways and who’s responsible?
  • Have you ever been burgled
  • Is there neighbourhood watch
  • Have you ever claimed on the insurance
  • Has the property suffered flood
  • Have vermin, ants or other insects or wild birds ever been a problem
  • Are there any bats in the roofs or voids or newts, frogs or the like in the gardens or ponds? (such species are protected and carry high fines for disturbance), but in older properties often found and if accepted not a problem.
  • When do you put the rubbish out?
  • Is there a ghost/is the property haunted/do weird things happen?
  • Which way do the gardens face? (which could effect sunny afternoons in the garden)
  • have you ever been snowed in?
  • Do you often experience power cuts?
  • When is the noisiest time, ie cockerel waking, or train at 1 in the morning?
  • Are there any covenants or restrictions that you know of?
  • If interested ask about what sought of offer may be considered and what would be staying, and if agreed do they have a solicitor?

 
Buy your next home as a home.......
 

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