How many times have you gone to an open-house inspection and wandered around the property without asking a single question? Or perhaps you’ve wanted to ask question, but not known where to start, or who best to ask what?
A lack of knowledge or confidence can leave a you, as a house hunter, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, especially if you’re viewing multiple properties. Asking the right people the right questions is essential to building both.
Here, we give you some tips about who and what to ask when buying a house to help you get a clearer picture of the property, the price, and the process.
Ask the agent
Your first port of call at an inspection will be the agent who is showing the property. They expect serious buyers to ask questions and should be happy to provide you with the information you need. If you are not sure what to ask, get the ball rolling with some of these:
- How old is the property?
- Has it been on the market long?
- How much did it sell for when it was last on the market? And when was that, exactly?
- Has it been renovated? And have the renovations been certified?
- Are there any issues with the house or land? How about with the neighbouring properties?
- Has there been a recent building and pest inspection? Can I see a copy?
- How much are the owners expecting to sell for?
- Are they open to pre-auction offers (if it’s selling at auction)?
- What is actually included in the sale?
- How negotiable is the price?
Of course, an agent can give you a lot of information, but they don’t usually live next door and might not be able to give you first-hand insight into the street or local area. This is where some strategic over the fence chats can come in handy. If you spot a friendly-looking neighbour and manage to strike up a conversation, perhaps you could…
Ask the neighbours
- How long have you lived in the area?
- Have you seen much change in the suburb?
- What’s the street/suburb/local area like in winter/in summer/in general?
- Do you enjoy living here?
- Is there anything you think I should be aware of with this property?
- Keep it light and friendly and you might just get a good deal of useful information from the your potential new neighbours.
Ask the local council
One source of information that people often overlook is the local council. While it might be more of a question of research than a quick chat, it’s worth checking the council website to ask about any plans for development or infrastructure projects that might impact on the property or your wellbeing should you buy it. Here are a few specific questions you could ask:
- Is the property subject to any planning restrictions?
- Are there any environmental or heritage restrictions on the property that will affect approval if I want to renovate or alter the property?
- Are there any proposed developments in the local area?
You’ve asked the agent, the neighbours, and the local council about the property, and hopefully, they’ve given you the best possible answers. There is one more key person to talk to…
Ask your lawyer
Because buying a house is a binding legal process, it’s highly advisable to engage a licensed conveyancer or a solicitor to help you navigate the ins and outs of the purchase process.
They will examine the contracts, arrange inspections, carry out the exchanges, and check if the property comes with any outstanding land tax obligations, among many other things. Before engaging their services, it’s worth asking them a few straightforward questions, including the very obvious “how much will your services cost me?”. Here are a couple of not so obvious questions for you to think about too:
- Can you talk me through the process?
- What will happen if the sale falls through?
- Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
- How often will we communicate, and how?
- When do I need to pay the conveyancing fees?
- How long do you think the process will take?
A final word
There is an old saying that it is better to look foolish for a moment by asking what you think is a simple question, than to remain foolish forever by not asking it at all.
Nothing could be truer when it comes to buying a house. Knowing who to ask, and what to ask about buying a house will help you to get the information you need to make confident, informed decisions about your potential new home.
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