Buying a house is a massive decision and it seems crazy that some of us only get to spend a few minutes poking round our prospective property by making what could potentially be the largest purchase of our lives. With property prices hitting record highs, the rising cost of living and inflation all hitting us hard this year, it is now more important than ever to make sure you maximise the quality of the time you spend viewing your potential home and ask the right questions in order to get the most out of your viewing – and avoid making an expensive mistake!

If you like the place and are seriously considering putting in an offer, here are five of the most important questions you should ask before you agree to anything!

  1. Why are you moving?

It may seem a bit personal, but it also means you may catch them on the hop. The answer that the seller gives to this question could offer a clue as to the sort of things you might experience in a few years. For example if they say they want to be closer to a good school or better transport links for their children, is this something that could affect you? Do you have children now or are you planning some down the line?

They could also put your mind at rest too. If they are downsizing or moving for work, then this is unlikely to be because there is a problem with the property. If they are starting a new job they may even have a deadline to move and this could make them more open to offers too. Don’t be afraid to ask!

If they are a bit cagey then this could be a sign that something is amiss. But remember they aren’t obliged to divulge personal details either, so don’t push too hard if they don’t have an answer or don’t appear to be keen to talk about it. The sale could be due to a death or a relationship breakup and they may simply want to keep that to themselves.

  1. How long have you lived in this house?

The worst thing they can say here is ‘not very long’

Ask yourself, does their answer make sense?  If they’ve got a growing family then they may need to scale up but if you can’t see a reason for them to be moving so soon after moving in then this could be a sign that something is wrong with the property. If you want to do a little extra snooping you can find out how many times the property has changed hands recently by searching online, where some property websites can show you how many times it had been sold over the last few years.

If they have been living happily in the property for many years then it is probably a good idea to ask why they want to move now. It could be because it is falling down around their ears or the new neighbours are a ten-piece jamming jazz band, in which case it could be time to make your excuses and leave!

  1. What are the neighbours like?

Which leads us nicely on to our next question. What exactly are the neighbours like? Are they noisy? Do they have barking dogs or screaming children? Maybe they like to work noisily on their motorbike into the wee small hours.

If a complaint has been made about the neighbour’s noise or behaviour then the seller is legally bound to tell you about it, even if they did not make the complaint.

If you don’t trust their answer, arrange a viewing when you’re likely to be at home and bothered by any problems, such as an evening or weekend, to see if the neighbours are causing any issues and if the house is adequately soundproofed.

  1. Have you had many viewings?

You probably don’t need us to tell you that the property market has gone a little bit nuts over the last couple of years – partly due to people reassessing their work/life balance and relocating to the countryside. Demand is outstripping supply and when properties first come to the market they get inundated with viewings. A few years ago if a property had a lot of viewings this may not have been a good sign, if people were looking but declining to buy – but with the surge of interest in recent years this might not be such a red flag that it once was – but if it has been on the market for a while and hundreds of people have seen it but no one has put in an offer, you’ve got to ask yourself, why?

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

Another potential red flag. Your estate agent should be able to tell you how long it takes for a property in this area to sell on average, but they might not tell you that this property has been for sale for 5 years because no one wants it. If it has been on sale for longer than usual for this area, it could be because it is overpriced, so they may be more open to offers – or conversely, refusing to budge until they get the asking price that they believe it is worth! If they are asking too much but you want it anyway, then this could cause problems with your mortgage lender if their valuation falls short of the asking price, so just be aware that this may cause a problem and make sure that you have a plan B in place if so!

Ready to make your move? Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation quote. If you’re thinking of downsizing we have secure, stone-built storage facilities right here in the centre of Bridport. We can help you to pack your things and put them straight into storage for you until you’re ready to deal with them, taking all the stress out of moving for you. Give us a call to find out more.

Picture credit: Property viewing photo by RODNAE Productions on Pixels