Top 10 questions professional homebuyers ask

Saturday 6th April 2013

With the days getting longer and spring knocking on our door, this is still the traditional time to get out there to start looking for a new property. As a buyer, what questions should you be asking? Look through the eyes of the professionals with home finding service Country Homesearch:

What’s the position of the sellers? “Vital to know if they are timewasters or toe-dippers. If they are in a hurry to sell it may be easier to negotiate a bargain,” says Carol Peett County Homesearch, West Wales.

What’s included in the sale? Your solicitor should find out but are those ornamental garden troughs, the white goods, carpets/curtains and security lights included?

Which way does the house face? If you like early morning and evening sun an East/West facing house might suit but a south facing garden might be better for your perennials.

Does the property have its own private drainage? If it does you will be responsible for repairs or spillage/environmental damage on other people’s land.

Are the neighbours friendly? “We go back and check out the property at different times,” says Nic Mills, County Homesearch, Cotswolds. “A peak over a fence may reveal a tethered guard-dog whose bark recalls the Baskervilles. Trampolines and toys could mean noisy young children.”

Attics and extensions should raise questions? Is there planning permission in place for an attic bedroom or a conservatory? If planning has not been obtained it might hamper a sale as solicitors will rightly question whether permission has been granted. Best to know before you start the house-buying process.

A tranquil house at midday might resemble Brands Hatch during rush hour or the twice daily school runs. “We are detectives,” says Jonathan Haward, spokesman of County Homesearch. “We check out rat runs, flight paths or even the presence of kennels. When pointed out to a Sussex client that a cottage was in baying distance of a bloodhound pack he said he liked the romance of that.”

Searches will tell part of the story but a shared drive needs investigation. If you have access via a shared drive ensure that you have a legal right to get to your new property.

Is the house listed and does it stand in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a designated conservation area? "Easy to find out from the local authority but it may restrict building on an extension or even painting a house the colour of your choice,” says Harriet Holden-White of County Homesearch, Surrey.

Other things to consider - ensure your advisor has asked about: flooding risks, parking, solar panels and whether it is owned by the venor, if the house is freehold or leasehold, what council tax band it’s in, proximity to pubic transport, schools, shops and if it’s in good decorative and structural order.


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