Housebuying - questions you should be asking

Buying a house is an exciting time but it can also be one of life's most stressful events. Estate agents and vendors will do their best to make a property look and sound like your dream home, and while that may be the case, there are occasions when you move in to find all was not what it seemed.

Housebuying questions to ask

Pic: Getty

Before you put in an offer on a house or apartment, here are a few important questions you should be asking.

Viewings and offers
It's probably one of the first thoughts that pop into your head, particularly if this property looks like being 'the one'. So don't worry about asking how many viewings your potential new home has had, whether there are any offers on the table, and if not, how long it has been on the market. The answer could affect what kind of price the vendor is prepared to take, and you can tailor your offer accordingly.

Similarly, do check whether there is a chain, as this could increase the chances of the deal falling through and make conveyancing a more lengthy process. If you are able to speak with the vendors, politely quiz them about why they are selling, where they are moving to, and whether they have already had an offer accepted on their next property. Any squirming could flag up a possible problem.

It's all very well budgeting for your mortgage repayments and moving costs, but it's also easy to forget the extra expenses associated with actually living in your new home. For example, check which council tax band the property is in so that you can factor it into your month-to-month expenditure.

It is especially important if you are moving into a leasehold apartment as there can be significant costs. Ask about annual maintenance costs and service charges, ground rent, and how long is left on the lease, which could affect your ability to sell in the future. Unless the house has a drive or garage, parking could also add costs so check whether there you'll need to buy an on-street parking permit.

Safety checks
A survey should show up any major structural problems that might arise in a property, but issues with the electrics or gas appliances can also cost a pretty penny to fix. Ask to see recent electrical and gas installation checks or reports, and establish how old the boiler is, and when and how often it has been inspected. It's also an idea to talk about fire safety - escape routes and fire doors in apartments, as well as fire alarms and how often they are checked.

What's included
Whether it's your first property or the next step up the ladder, it's important to know what's included in the price. For example, are the white goods staying, or will you need to bring or buy your own? If the house boasts a wood burner, are the owners taking it with them? Even curtains or blinds can go or remain, so do check. That way, you'll know what needs immediate attention when you do finally move in.

Nightmare neighbours
Although a vendor is unlikely to admit to having troublesome neighbours, it doesn't mean you shouldn't pose the question. Ask about who lives upstairs, next door or round about and whether there have ever been disputes. A constantly barking dog or thumping music at all hours can quickly turn your dream home into a nightmare, and while the vendor might lie, once again, any squirming could be a sign of issues. With that in mind, it's an idea to visit the property at various different times of the day, just to be on the safe side.

So before you get carried away with what seems like your ideal home, remember that it's probably the biggest purchase you'll make in your life - it's essential to get it right.

Have you recently bought a new home? Were there any questions that you wished you'd asked before you put in an offer? Let us know below...