8 Key Questions To Ask When Buying A House

A couple is getting the keys of their new house

By now, you probably have a rough idea that buying a house is one of the most important decisions of your life. So with that, there are several key questions that you should ask to find out as much as you can about the property before you buy.

Is there a chain?

One of the things that can slow your process down – or even make it break down entirely – is the chain. The chain is all of the groups involved in your house purchase; the people buying your house, the people whose house you are buying… It can be a lot of people or it can be just you and someone else.

The chain typically ends with things such as purchasing empty homes, emigration, all sorts. As always, one of the best ways to avoid the chain slowing down is to ensure that you are always prepared and have finances and everything that comes with the home-buying process in order.

In theory, the smaller the chain, the quicker the whole process can go, as you will be less reliant on other people.

How long has it been on the market for and is there much interest?

Getting an idea of how much interest there is on a property should tell you a number of things. Firstly, it will give an indication of whether it is the right property for you (a lot of interest would suggest that it is a great property and the place for you). Secondly, it will let you know how quick you need to be with your decision making as there may be a lot of competition.

Equally, finding out how long the property has been on the market can be quite telling. If the house you’re looking at has been on the market for a while (a good few months) but with no movement, ask your estate agent why this may be the case.

How long have the owners been there and why are they moving?

Much like the previous question, understanding this will give you a great insight to what your future with the property may entail.

Have the owners decided to move out after only a short period of time? Beyond that, what did the owners before that do? Is this property that is difficult to live in for more than a year? It is so important to find out why so you don’t have to do the same thing.

Equally, this is an opportunity to find out why they are moving. Is it to do with noisy neighbours or the local area or are the owners just retiring to the country?

Are the sellers open to offers?

Once you work out whether the sellers are open to negotiating, you can discuss your offer with the estate agent. They will be able to advise you on whether you should perhaps aim higher or lower depending on the seller’s intention.

A number of factors can come into play with this. For example, if there is a great deal of interest in the property, how soon the seller wants to move, mortgage agreements, the chain etc. As with most things in this process, it can sometimes come down to luck so our best advice is to be as prepared as you can be and leave no room for surprises.

What is included in the sale?

If you’re buying a new build, this might not be much of a concern but if you’re moving in as someone is leaving, it will be worth your while to ask what you can expect to find in the house upon your arrival. An older home may offer a number of surprises in terms of what the previous owner will be leaving behind.

Sometimes it can be a blessing, sometimes it can be a curse. You can either end up with a fully functioning fridge freezer unit or a broken washing machine that just takes up space. Things get left behind for a reason so we recommend you find out what will be there once you open the door for the first time.

Has there been any major construction recently?

This isn’t normally an issue but you can never be too sure! If any recent work has been done to your dream house but it wasn’t done without the proper building control consent, you may have to be the one to sort it out and no one wants that hassle. Ask ahead of time to save the problem coming up down the line!

What is the local area like?

We recently covered a few of the best ways to get to know your potential neighbourhood so make sure you give that a read. There are a number of ways to get an idea of the area but one of the best methods that we would suggest is to go there and ask the locals. Who is going to know more about it than those who already live there?

Failing that, there are a number of great resources that offer insights, stats and resident survey results. If you want to find out anything, chances are that info is out there.

When can you move in?

The final question to ask but, thankfully, one of the more simple questions. We recently talked about how long it takes to buy a house but, depending on the property, there may be a few variables that can slow down this part. If, for example, you are moving into a new build, you would, of course, have to wait for building to be completed. This can also be where the chain makes a comeback. No one wants to be all packed and ready to go but still have to wait a few weeks for the other people to move out.

Buying a new home can be long and difficult but it doesn’t have to be. Asking questions and getting as much of the necessary information as possible will help you eliminate any unwanted surprises can help make the process speedier and easier for everyone.


Rupert Briggs

About the author

Rupert Briggs | Director, Epsom

Hi, my name is Rupert and I’m the owner and Director of The Personal Agent Ltd. Richard and I launched The Personal Agent in 2004 with a vision of it being a very different kind of agency. Having worked for local estate agents, we knew what the market was looking for – a personal service tailored to the needs of those who trust us with their properties, one that genuinely listens, adapts, and consistently delivers on its promises. I am passionate about ensuring that each and every landlord and vendor we work with only ever receives the very best in service, marketing and cutting-edge innovations to ensure that they achieve their property goals and we live up to their expectations.