Property: ‘Important’ questions homebuyers forget to ask estate agents when buying a home

Property expert outlines the UK hotspots on the housing market

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Karina Hutchins, head of Home by OpenMoney has shared her expert advice on what to look out for before making a property purchase and has shared “important” questions potential homebuyers forget to ask. Before viewing a property, Karina explained that finding out the amount the property previously sold for is important. She said: “If there’s a big jump in price for example, you might want to ask about this at the viewing. Consider how long the owners have had the property – are they selling it after a short period of time? Why? Also, find out how long the property has been on the market, which may prompt further questions at the viewing stage.

“It’s worth asking the estate agent what other interest they have had – and the reason any offers have been turned down. Plus, ask them to give you examples of similar properties they have sold in the area recently so you have an understanding of the wider market.”

Viewing the property is the best time to ask certain questions and visualise living there.

The expert recommends finding information about the neighbours as well as checking for any structural damage.

Karina said: “Consider the orientation of the house and how this will change the sunlight in the rooms or garden.

“Check for plaster cracks in the walls and that the internal doors shut neatly in their frames – both of which could point to structural damage or ageing.

“How many plug sockets are there – will this work for you? Ask how old the windows are and have a look at their condition as they are often very expensive to replace.

“Find out about the neighbours – have they lived there for a long time? Do they rent? Are they retired? If there isn’t a driveway, then what is the parking situation in the street like?

“If there is any loft conversions or extensions – have the owners got the relevant building regs documentation? Also, don’t forget to ask about the boiler and find out how old it is too.

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“Remember, it’s the estate agent’s job to find a buyer for the property – not to make sure it’s the right one for you. Asking all the right questions at this stage will potentially save you time later down the line.”

After viewing a property, the expert recommends researching the cost of any work which may need to be carried out.

She said this can help potential homebuyers base their offer on this.

Karina added: “Make sure to find out what the council tax is for the property, and if you’re buying a flat, what the ground rent and maintenance charges are. 

“These are important factors to consider when looking at your monthly budget, and if you can comfortably afford your mortgage repayments, bills and a buffer for socialising.

“If it feels right and you are thinking it might be the one to make an offer on, then have a look at what your mortgage repayments might look like – you can easily do this using one of our home eligibility tools by creating an account and following the instructions.”

Making an offer is an important time and deciding on an offer price might be hard.

The expert explained that if there is any work that needs doing to the property, that this is reflected in the offer.

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However, the majority of asking prices reflect any renovation work that might need to be carried out.

Karina said: “A general rule of thumb is that if a house has been on the market for less than two weeks and has multiple viewings, it’s hot property.

“If you really want it, then expect to offer asking price (unless additional work or factors for a price reduction apply).

“If the property has been on the market for longer than two weeks, then you might get away with offering less.

“Putting in an offer 10 percent under asking price is seen as acceptable – anything less and you might not be taken as a serious buyer.”

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