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10 Questions to Ask an Owner When Viewing a Property to Buy

Friday, 28th August 2009

Categories: Sales

Author: Peter Barry

Unlike us here at Peter Barry not all agents accompany every viewing. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being shown around a property by the owner it can be revealing to ask a few gently probing questions. Here are a few ideas:

  1. How long have you lived here? Start off with this one as it will give you some idea how useful the subsequent answers will be.
  2. What changes have you made during your time at the property? If the changes are significant, such as changes to the layout, you can ask your surveyor to investigate.
  3. When did you last decorate? Not particularly useful in itself but it could help you to determine how recently any cracks have reappeared.
  4. Will you be leaving the white goods? Best to establish this early on as if you ask after the price has been agreed the owner is likely to charge for them.
  5. When was the boiler last serviced? What you are really asking is whether the boiler has been regularly serviced - many owners never service their boilers and as a result reduce their expected lifespan.
  6. When was the wiring last checked?
  7. When was the chimney last swept (if it is in use)?
  8. What are the neighbours like? Keep this as an open question as it will force the owner to give you some details of who lives next door. Many people have had their lives ruined by nightmare neighbours.
  9. What are the management company like? This one obviously only applies to flats but is very important - a poorly managed block can end up costing you a fortune and giving you a headache.

Although you cannot always rely on the answers provided by owners it is at least a starting point. You can compare the information that you have been given with that which has been put on the property information form and flag up any discrepancies. It may also raise some issues that you could ask your solicitor or surveyor to investigate for you.