28 May Questions to Ask the Vendors When Viewing a Property
You’ve found your dream property, hooray! Or, at least you think you have. Whether you hadn’t even thought about moving but you walked past a house with a ‘For Sale’ sign attached to the gatepost and just knew you had to buy it, or you’ve been actively looking and have spent the last six months staring at estate agent windows and scrolling through property websites, you’ve found a property you can’t stop thinking about.
Buying a property is nerve-wracking. It doesn’t matter if you’re first time buyers who’ve been renting and are now finally saying goodbye to that letting agent in East London or you’re so high up the property ladder you’re in danger of getting vertigo, no property purchase goes through without a few of those ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ moments.
You probably have an idea of things to look out for when viewing a property, but what about what questions to ask? Of course, you can ask the estate agent as many questions as you like about the property and they’ll have a certain amount of knowledge about your potential purchase, but to really get a feel for not only the property but the area, location and amenities too, you need to ask the vendors. After all, they’re the ones who have been living there. The vendors are also more likely to give you an honest answer, and not skirt around any issues an estate agent may prefer to not answer too truthfully in case it puts you off making an offer.
You may feel nosy or shy asking vendors questions about their house – it is still their home, after all, and no one likes to be interrogated in their own home – but buying a property is a big purchase, so swallow your shyness and ask away.
Why are the vendors selling?
There’s probably a perfectly good reason why the vendors are selling up. They might need a bigger house for their growing family or they might need a smaller house now their children have left home. They might fancy leaving the city for the sticks or perhaps the neighbours from hell have moved in next door and they can’t get away from them quickly enough.
Obviously, if it’s the latter reason, the vendors probably aren’t going to tell you this but you should be able to gauge from their reaction to your question if it’s a happy move or not.
You can also tie this question in with asking them how long they’ve lived there. If they’ve been there many years, there’s a good chance the house will have absorbed many happy memories but if they haven’t been there long, you need to ask yourself (and them) why they are leaving so soon.
What are the neighbours like?
As we said above, the vendors probably aren’t going to tell you if the neighbours are regulars on Crimewatch but there are other factors you might want to take into consideration. The vendors might love their neighbours and tell you about how sociable they are, always popping round with cakes, etc., but if you’re the type who likes to keep yourself to yourself, this will be off-putting. On the other hand, free cake might just seal the deal for you.
Have they had any major work done?
The extension, garage conversion or conservatory may have been a plus point when you first saw the property on the market but have any required planning permissions been obtained? How about building regulations? Ask how long ago any major works were carried out and if they have the necessary documentation. If they haven’t got the documentation but you desperately love the house otherwise, don’t get too downhearted – you can get indemnity insurance to cover you for this, which is something you can discuss with your conveyancing solicitor.
What’s the best and worst bits of living there?
This is something an estate agent can’t answer for the vendors, as only the vendors know what it’s like to live in that particular house in that particular area. The vendors should be only too happy to tell you all the good bits about the house – maybe the garden gets sun all day, or it’s a really quiet, peaceful area or perhaps they’re particularly keen on the chip van that visits their street on a Friday night.
When they’ve finished gushing about how brilliant everything is, they’ll probably be happy to balance it out with the not-so-good bits like how every bin day, the seagulls/foxes/local cats have been through all the bins and scattered rubbish everywhere or how the bloke across the road has his engine running as he fixes his car on his drive every Sunday morning.
How old is the boiler?
A boring but necessary question. An old boiler that will need to be replaced can cost a few thousand pounds, so if it’s on its way out, you’ll need to know so you can reduce your offer accordingly. If the boiler’s over a year old, ask if it’s been serviced yearly.
After you’ve asked about the boiler, ask about the electrics and how old the consumer unit is. If that needs replacing, that’ll cost you around £500 which, although isn’t a life-altering amount of money, is still something that needs to be factored into the cost of buying and moving.
These are just five questions you should ask your vendors before proceeding with your purchase. As we said at the beginning, buying a property is always a nerve-wracking experience, but the more knowledge you’re armed with, the better.