8 Essential Questions to Ask your Estate Agent?

Tuesday 4th April 2023

If like 98% of home buyers, you started your search for a new property online, you have probably already had access to a host of pristine property pictures, detailed descriptions and even 360 tours of your prospective property. But the truth is, no matter how helpful property websites are for creating your property shortlist and exploring what's available, nothing will ever match up to seeing the property with your own eyes. 

That first visit to a prospective home not only provides an opportunity to explore the properties' location, examine room by room and take a closer look at those all-important fixtures and fittings; but is also of huge importance for collating the right information to speed up the entire conveyancing and completion process. 

So how can you make the most of that all-important first property viewing, what should you be looking out for, and which questions should be essential on the list of your estate agent? 

In our latest blog, we explore some of the most important questions to ask your estate agent during your first viewing.

Always prepare your questions first

Don’t leave anything to chance, viewing a property can be a time of high stress and emotion, especially if you are resting on this property being the property of your dreams. It’s always best to turn up with a list of questions you want answering, measurements of your furniture that you are bringing with you, a tape measure, and your phone to take pictures.

The most important questions to ask 

At Howard & Over, we have extensive experience of working with both individuals going through the property purchase process and estate agents. These 8 essential questions, combined with your own, will make sure you leave no stone unturned, helping you to get the most from your viewing. 

1. Why are they selling? 

It might sound obvious, but this question alone can unlock some important secrets surrounding the properties' status or external actors. The estate agent might hint at the circumstances which would help you with negotiations, such as the results of previous property surveys. It could also highlight any problems like poor nearby schools, lack of parking or noise levels.

2. How long has the property been on the market? 

Ask your estate agent if people have put in offers and pulled out. This could be due to poor house surveys, or the property being overpriced. If the current owners have only been there a short time, make sure you find out why!

3. Are there any forthcoming local plans that could affect the property? 

This could range from a new road being built causing you noise pollution and disruption, new housing developments blocking the view you admire, or part of your new road being redeveloped for a shopping area.

4. What is the property’s tenure? 

Information relating to tenure should have been included in the properties listing, but it is always good to confirm this with your estate agents, as there can be huge implications for getting this wrong. If you have a freehold property, you own the property in perpetuity. In contrast, with a leasehold, you only own the property for a certain number of years as it’s owned by a freeholder. This timescale can vary from 10 – 999 years, although it’s advised not to buy a home with less than 80 years on the leasehold, as you could struggle with obtaining a mortgage. The freeholder owning the leasehold will often bring in service charges for maintaining, managing, and insuring the property.

Once you have a clear understanding of your tenure, your conveyancer can investigate this more thoroughly with you to discover any covenants which might block future plans on your home. 

5. Have any major renovations happened to the property?

Find out what major and minor works have been completed on the property, when it was done and if there is any paperwork or guarantees that came with it. If there has been any extension work, ensure it had planning permission as well.

6. How much are the council tax and utility bills? 

This will give you an idea of your general outgoings on top of the mortgage. You could also ask for WI-FI costs if needed.

7. How old is the boiler? 

Find out the age and servicing history of a new boiler. A broken or replacement boiler can be very costly. You should ask for the boiler to have a new service as part of the sale agreement.

8. Have any rooms been recently redecorated? 

Does the smell of paint still linger? Whilst there may be nothing to worry about, this could be a sign that the current occupants have covered up cracks or damp. Ask if you can move the furniture a little bit to check there is nothing lurking behind the sofa!

What next?

If you need support through your house purchase journey, your conveyancing team will be there to help you every step of the way. When you start to look for a home, speak to Howard & Over Conveyancing team. 

They are not just there to help with the conveyancing. By being part of the process from the beginning, they can help you with legal advice and keep the process quick and simple for you. They can advise on tenure questions, existing covenants, the sales process and what you need to ensure a smooth sale. Bring them in from the very beginning to get the best use of their expertise. 

Contact the team today