Questions First Time Buyers Should Be Asking

22/08/2019

Buying your first home is a daunting task. There’s lots of new processes and professionals you have to deal with, many of which you didn’t anticipate before starting your house search. But not only that, you have to be asking the right questions about the properties you look at, and sometimes these are questions you wouldn’t normally think to ask.

If you’re a first time buyer, these are some questions you should be asking at your viewing appointments.

Why is the house up for sale?

This may be a fleeting thought to first time buyers, or the question may not even cross your mind. But in fact, asking this question can reveal a lot about the property and the general situation the sellers are in.

Firstly it can reveal problems with the property, the area, or the neighbours. However, there are more questions you can ask to uncover those issues. Or maybe it’s an innocent reason like wanting to downsize.

This question will also reveal how interested the sellers are in actually selling. Sometimes properties are listed purely to see what kind of interest and offers it gets, but the sellers aren’t dead set on selling. In contrast, some sellers are looking for a quick sale. You can use this information to your advantage, and if the situation is the latter you could get away with making a lower offer.

Being a first time buyer also means you don’t have a chain, so as long as you already have a mortgage in principle sorted you become an attractive buyer to sellers who need to sell fast.

How long has the property been on the market?

There are lots of factors that can affect how quickly a property sells; the location, the market, the asking price, any known issues, etc.

If the asking price is particularly high for the area and has resulted in the property being listed for many months, it could either mean that the sellers will be open to lower offers in order to sell, or that they are more interested in what offers they get rather than actually selling (see the previous question).

Known issues could have resulted in scaring buyers off, meaning the property has been listed for longer than anticipated. Maybe the property has a Japanese knotweed problem, or need major structural work that many buyers don’t want to commit too.

Issues can be uncovered in a building survey, but knowing how long the property has been on the market for can give you an idea of if you should be looking out for problems.

Has there been any major renovation work done recently on the property?

Find out if the property was recently extended, how long ago it was and if there is planning permission for the work. You can also ask if there is any potential to extend the property but remember that this will be subject to getting planning permission.

Having a home buyers or full structural survey carried out on the property can also give you a lot more insight into the general health of the property. This includes reports on potential subsidence, damp problems, and more depending on the type of survey you get.

What is parking like here?

Driveway space is precious, and not every property comes with a drive or garage. If that’s the case, find out what parking options you have available - is there a designated space for the property somewhere? Is it a free for all situation along the road? Is it permit only?

If the only option is to park on the road, try speaking to neighbours or other residents on the road to get their opinions as they should be able to provide a better picture of the situation.

If you live local enough, try visiting the area at different times of day; weekends, evenings, and during the working day. You’ll be able to see for yourself what parking is really like.

Is the property part of a chain?

Chains are a difficult part of buying and selling a property. If things don’t go to plan at one part of the chain, it can cause problems for others further along the line.

Asking about any chains and how long they may be can give you a better idea of how quickly or not a sale could go through. If the seller has found their new home they may be open to lower offers for the sake of a quicker move.

Alternatively, if they haven’t found their next property yet you could be in for a long wait. It then comes down to how long you’re willing to wait to move into your first home.

What are the neighbours like?

For some buyers, neighbours can make or break a property. For others it’s not a big factor to consider. Regardless of your standpoint, it’s worth asking about who your potential neighbours are.

They could be students, a family with young children, really noisy or just a bit nosy.

The question spreads a bit further than the properties to your left and right. What is the community like in general? A good community could make up for slightly noisy neighbours on one side.

What is the area like and are there any issues to be aware of?

Choosing the right area to buy in is important whether you’re buying your first or fifth property. Homes in good areas tend to be highly sought-after, where as those in less desirable areas are also in turn, less desirable.

Properly looking into the location will ensure you’re happy with your move, and even if you’re familiar with the wider area, learning more about the road the property is on can reveal a lot.

Again, speak to those already living in the area to get their opinions. They will be candid about any concerns and the things they love.

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