Buying a house can be a really stressful process, but knowing the right questions to ask before you put in an offer and commit to buy a property can really help to reduce some of that stress, helping you to buy with confidence and prevent any unexpected problems down the line. This is the second part of our blog about what to ask when you’re buying a house. You can read the first part here.
5. Have there been any issues with damp?
This is a very common issue and may not in itself be a reason not to buy. Look out for signs of damp when you’re viewing the property such as peeling paper, freshly repainted areas stains or smells and ask about it too. Damp is treatable but if has been left untreated then it can seriously damage the infrastructure of a building and reduce it’s value, so it’s important to find out the extent of the problem if there is one. Michael Reading from Housetastic has some tips on what else to look out for:
“While viewing the property, check thoroughly for signs of damp, especially behind furniture against walls and cupboards. If you are interested in the property after the viewing, then you must get a survey conducted.
“A survey means potential issues, especially damp issues, get flagged and make the buyer aware.”
6. Is anything specifically included or excluded with the sale?
It’s important to make sure that you don’t assume that certain features are included in the price – although many sellers are happy to throw in a few extras too:
‘If you like the specific light fixture or need a new fridge and washing machine, make sure you ask if the sellers would be willing to include those products in the sale. Some sellers – especially ones who are looking for a quick sale – would be pleased to get rid of products they don’t need.”
7. Ask about the neighbours
Legally they must give an honest answer to this question, in order to avoid the potential for future disputes. But you have to make sure that you ask:
“If you ask a seller or an estate agent outright if there have been any genuine issues with the neighbours, say with boundary disputes, then they must give an honest answer.
“This means if there have been any boundary disputes, or if noise complaints have been formally lodged with council, then you have all the information available.”
If you’re not 100% convinced that the neighbours are nice then you can do a bit of detective work too. Join some Facebook groups for the local area and scan for mentions of problems. Drive past in the evenings and weekends to see if you can har any loud music, parties or power tools being used late into the night
8. Ask if it’s in a conservation area
Of course you can also look this up but talking to owners yourself can help give you a full insight into any potential problems. If the property is listed it can limit any renovations you might wish to undertake and even something like replacing the windows or putting a satellite dish on the property may be subject to restrictions.
Whilst some buyers may view living in a conservation area as a desirable feature, it comes with it’s won set of challenges and may leave you out of pocket too:
“To do any work on your property in a conservation area, from changing windows and doors to building extensions or even just painting the exterior, you will need to get permission from the local council.
“Although this may seem a frustrating extra step to take, homes within conservation areas sell at a premium and rarely lose their value – unless significant damage occurs.”
9. Ask about the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating
We already touched in this in our earlier question about monthly costs, but knowing how energy efficient the property is will also help you understand how comfortable it is and whether you can do anything to make it more energy efficient too:
”By knowing the EPC, you will not only learn how energy efficient the property is, but it allows you to know how expensive the property will be to run.”
10. Ask about parking
Unless you’ve experienced parking wars before you may not realise how significant this question is. People quickly turn into animals when there is a shortage of on-street parking and things can escalate quickly. If the property comes with off-street parking that’s great but make sure there’s somewhere for visitors to park too and that you’ve considered any potential problems which may arise. In some areas, you may need to apply for a permit to park outside your house and this is another cost that will need to be factored in to your budget:
“Many streets offer on-street parking, which is first come first serve, which can cause problems – so knowing this in advance means you can work out how to park.”
11. Ask about subsidence
Legally a seller has to declare any subsidence when they put the house on the market but it’s a good idea to double check and ask the estate agent if there is any issues.
12. Ask if it is freehold or leasehold
This should be included in the property listing but make sure you have all of the information about it before you make your decision. If it’s leasehold, ground rent and service charges may apply so you will need to factor these into your budget too.
Service charges are more likely in an apartment complex, towards the day-to-day running costs of the building, covering things such as buildings insurance, maintenance, repairs, gardening and the upkeep of any communal facilities. Make sure you find out what’s included in the charge and include it in your budget.
Also if it’s leasehold, check to find out if there are any restrictions on the lease – for example you may not be able to run a business from the property, sublet part of it or rent out a room. Not ideal if you’ve been working from home. So it’s a good idea to clear all this up before you commit.
Asked all the questions and got all your answers? Sold up and ready to make your move? Why not give us a call to see how we can help with a free, no-obligation quote? If you need to store some stuff during the sale or the move, 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.
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