The importance of having your questions ready when you are buying or viewing a property
Buying a property is an important and significant process in anyone’s life and attention to detail should be taken when looking at the finer details of each property you view. Making the most of your viewing time by asking the right questions can make the whole process easier and bring you closer to finding the perfect property for you.
Before you begin viewing a property
It is likely that when you view a property you will not be the only person there. There can often be many people viewing the same property at once and so the estate agent’s time to answer questions can be limited. For this reason, it is important that you have your questions ready in advance. So as to use your time with the estate agent wisely, these should not be questions that have already been answered on the property listing. Make sure to take a thorough look at the listing before you attend the viewing to note any questions you might have that it does not already address. This way you can gather as much information as you can while at the viewing.
What are your deal breakers?
Before you begin viewing properties, it is important to have thought about your deal breakers. These are details in a property for which you are not willing to compromise and which would be the make or break in your decision to buy. These details might be things such as private parking, room for a bath, a garden or particular outdoor space or an open plan kitchen. Having these in mind can help narrow down your search but your list of deal breakers should not be too expansive or you risk narrowing your choice of properties down to very few. It is also important to bear in mind, that although a property may not appear to currently have your deal breaker, it may be possible to create it in the property in the future if space will allow. The question of whether there is space to provide you with your deal breakers is another question that could be added to your list when you meet the estate agent.
Have you done your research into the area?
While the estate agent will be able to offer insight into the area the property you are viewing is located, most of the things you need to know can be found out through a simple and quick internet search and/or a walk around the area. It is best to use your time with the estate agent to mainly gather information on the property itself, as your time may be limited during a viewing. It is easy to find out whether there are transport links, schools nearby, restaurants and shops by driving around or taking a stroll nearby. By doing this research in advance, it allows you to focus your questions on the specifics of a property.
Questions to ask when viewing a property
How long has the property been on the market?
Properties which have been on the market for a long time may have structural issues that need to be addressed that will add further costs down the line for the buyer.
What are the current offers and has there been much interest?
This will give you an idea of how in demand this property might be and what sort of competition you might be up against. Bear in mind though, that if the property is only new on the market there may not be any offers yet.
Why is it on the market?
It is important to know if the reason for the owner’s decision to sell is because of the property or not.
When was the property constructed?
This should be reflected in how it appears in its current state. If it is very old then you must allow for areas of wear and tear. The state and age of the property should be reflective of the price being asked. You could also ask how many owners have owned it since it was first built.
Are there any property management fees? (These will apply more to apartments)
These are fees which are often applied to apartment complexes and should be taken into account as further annual costs.
What exact area/land comes with the purchase?
It is very important to know how much land the cost of property covers. This will give you a good idea as to whether there might be room to extend in the future and what sort of outdoor space you have for private use.
Has planning permission ever been sought on the property grounds and is there potential to extend?
This will alert you to the possibilities to extend or build on the grounds in the future.
What contents are included in the purchase?
Quite often properties might include the kitchen appliances or some fixtures and furnishings but this should never be taken as a given. It is important to note exactly what is included in the price as things such as kitchen appliances, curtains and blinds can add a substantial additional cost to the buyer.
Is there a security system?
It is useful to know whether the property includes a security system that is already installed and which brand it is using.
Is the boiler and fuse box in good order?
These should be serviced and checked regularly by the owner and can be easily answered when queried.
Ask for the BER rating and certificate
A BER stands for Building Energy Rating. This will give you and insight into how energy efficient the property is and is graded A- G, A being the highest grade and G the lowest. A lower BER could signal high heating bills for the buyer. It is important to note though that you can make improvements to a property to raise its BER rating should you wish to in the future.
Is there any attic or cellar space?
These can be areas in a property that are normally not open to be viewed. It is important to ask if they exist and to query the size and state of such spaces. They could provide extra storage for the buyer or potentially additional rooms in the future.
South or west facing for sun?
If a room or garden is south or west facing it will receive the most amount of sunlight. It is useful to know which side of the property is facing which direction so you can have a clear idea as to which parts will be brightest at different times of the day. This may be particularly important for the outdoors space if you enjoy bathing in sunshine in the summer.
Have any extensions or renovations been made to the property since it was first built?
It is useful to know the journey this property has taken since it was first built and how it has allowed for change and restructuring in the past.
Are there many other properties currently also for sale in the area and if so, why?
The estate agent may or may not know the answer to this question but it might be useful to ask in case there are issues in the area that might be driving residents out.
If it is an older property, is it listed or in a conservation area?
This is very important as some older properties may be subject to restrictions in terms of changes and renovations that can be made.
Have the sellers secured a property to move into yet?
If the sellers have not yet found somewhere to live it could cause delays for the buyer. They may however have alternative living arrangements in place to allow a buyer to move in sooner rather than later so this an important question to ask, particularly if you are in a chain.
If not visible, ask if parking is available?
If you have a vehicle then parking is essential. If it is not already obvious from viewing the property then it is important to ask if private or off-street parking may be available elsewhere that cannot be seen from the property.
When you are viewing a property, you may be offered a brochure detailing the listing and giving some pictures of the exterior and interior. It is always useful to take a brochure, as even if you are not interested in buying that particular property you can use it to compare it with other similar properties in the future.
It is also a good idea to have your questions clearly written out before you arrive so that you can make sure that you cover everything you need to know. The answers could also be noted and kept with the brochure, should you need to decide between that property and others in the future.
Preparation and a clear idea of what you want in a property is very useful when you are doing viewings and can ensure that you are finding the best possible home for you that caters to your needs and style of living.
Herbert & Lansdowne is a Dublin estate agency and property management company that provides a service to property buyers that gives you confidence that you are going about it the right way. We can help to source properties to your brief, assess properties on your behalf, advise on locations and represent you in negotiations.
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