‘Vital’ questions to ask at a property viewing that can save you £47k

With so many factors to consider, it can be challenging to know where to begin when purchasing a property. But for buyers asking the right questions, this can save them thousands of pounds in the long run – £45,000 to be exact, according to Adam Clark, founder of My Local Toolbox. He said: “As a company, one of our main goals is to provide people with valuable information to help them make informed decisions about one of the most significant purchases of their life – buying a home. Through our research, we’ve found that asking the right questions when buying a house can make a substantial difference in the amount of money you could save. Our findings show that by asking these ten questions, people could potentially save over £47,000 in hidden costs when buying a house.”

1. Are there any known issues with the property, such as subsidence or damp, and have they been addressed?

Cost savings: £4,500

According to the expert, it’s “essential” to ask whether there are any known issues with the property, such as subsidence or damp, and whether they have been addressed. Subsidence and damp can cause significant damage to a property, and addressing these issues can be costly. Therefore, it’s important to understand the potential costs associated with such issues before making an offer on the property.

If there have been any issues with subsidence or dampness in the property, it’s important to ask whether they have been addressed and what remedial work has been carried out.

Adam said that this is a “vital” question to ask before committing to buy the property as failure to address subsidence or damp issues can lead to significant problems down the line, which can be expensive to rectify.

2. What is the history of the property? Has it been on the market for a long time, or has it been sold multiple times in a short period of time?

Cost savings: £4,000

When looking to purchase a home, it’s essential to research the history of the property. This will give buyers a good idea of how desirable the home has been in the past and if there are any underlying issues that have made the property difficult to sell.

One of the first things to look at is how long the property has been on the market. If the home has been on the market for a long time, it could be an indication that there are underlying issues with the property. This may include things like a poor location, extensive repairs that need to be made, or a high asking price that is not in line with market conditions.

Additionally, it’s also important to look at how many times the property has been sold in a short period of time. Adam warned: “If the property has changed hands multiple times over a short period, it could be a sign of an issue with the property or the location. This could include issues such as poor neighbourhood conditions or crime, lack of necessary amenities in the area, or a poorly maintained property.”

Although if the property has been owned by the same person or family for a long time, it could be an indication that the property has been well-maintained, and the neighbourhood is desirable to live in.

It’s also important to ask the seller about any renovations or upgrades made to the property over the years. This will give off a good idea of how well the property has been taken care of and any potential maintenance issues that may arise.

3. What is the energy efficiency rating of the property, and are there any energy-saving measures in place?

Cost savings: £2,000

Remember to consider the energy efficiency of the property when looking for a new home. The energy efficiency rating of a property is a measure of how energy efficient it is, with higher ratings indicating better energy efficiency. The expert said: “A property with a low energy efficiency rating may be more expensive to run, as it will require more energy to heat and cool. This can lead to higher energy bills, which can add up over time.”

It’s also important to ask whether there are any energy-saving measures in place. For example, does the property have double-glazed windows or insulation in the walls and roof? These measures can help to improve the energy efficiency of the property and reduce energy costs.

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4. Are there any planning restrictions in the area that could impact the value or use of the property?

Cost savings: £5,000

Make sure to ask about any potential planning restrictions or future development plans that could affect the value or use of the property. Planning restrictions can limit what can be done with the property in terms of building, renovation, or expansion.

To find out about any planning restrictions that could impact the property, start by looking at the local council’s website. Buyers can also speak to the seller, the estate agent, or a local planning consultant to get a better understanding of any potential issues.

5. Are there any ongoing or upcoming major infrastructure projects in the area that could affect the property’s value or livability?

Cost savings: £10,000

Asking about ongoing or upcoming major infrastructure projects in the area is important as it can have a “significant impact on the value and livability” of the property. Examples of such projects include new highways, railways, airports, or even large-scale building projects that could affect the area’s character.

If there are plans for a new highway or railway nearby, it may cause an increase in noise pollution and traffic, which could “lower the property’s value”. On the other hand, if the project improves access to the property and local amenities, it could “increase the property’s value”.

6. What is the condition of the roof, windows, and doors, and are they in need of repair or replacement?

Cost savings: £12,000

When considering purchasing a property, Adam said: “It is essential to assess the condition of the roof, windows, and doors. The roof is the first line of defence against the elements, and if it’s in poor condition, it could lead to significant issues such as water leaks, dampness, and even structural damage.”

To get an accurate picture of the condition of these components, it is advisable to hire a professional surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection. They will be able to identify any signs of wear and tear, damage, or structural issues that may not be apparent to an untrained eye.

7. Are there any service charges or ground rent associated with the property, and how much do they cost?

Cost savings: £2,000

Always make a note to ask about any additional costs associated with purchasing the property. Service charges and ground rent are two common fees that may be associated with a property.

Service charges are usually applicable to leasehold properties and are paid to the management company or landlord for the maintenance and repair of communal areas and services, such as lifts or gardens. Ground rent is paid by leaseholders to the freeholder or landlord as a fee for using the land the property is built on.

8. What is the crime rate in the area, and are there any safety concerns?

Cost savings: £1,000

When buying a house, safety is a top priority for most people, and it’s important to be aware of the crime rate in the area. Crime statistics can be obtained from the local police department, which can provide information on the types of crime that occur in the area, the frequency of such incidents, and any trends or patterns that may be present.

However, it is also a good idea for buyers to do their own research on local crime by looking at online resources such as the UK Government’s crime statistics website, which provides data on crime rates and trends by region.

9. What is the average property value in the area, and how does the asking price of this property compare?

Cost savings: £5,000

It’s always a good idea to have a good understanding of the local property market. One way to find this out is by researching the average house prices in the area. This can be done by looking at recent sales data for similar properties or by consulting with a local estate agent.

Adam said: “Knowing the average property value in the area can help you determine whether the asking price of the property you’re considering is reasonable or overpriced. It can also give you an idea of the potential for future appreciation in value, which could impact your long-term investment.

“However, it’s important to note that average property values can vary significantly between different areas, so it’s crucial to compare like-for-like properties when making comparisons.”

10. What is the council tax band for the property, and how much does it cost per year?

Cost savings: £1,500

Finally, think about council tax banding before making a purchase. To find out the council tax for a property, visit the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website or contact the local council. It’s important to consider the cost of council tax when budgeting for a home purchase and ongoing expenses, as it can be a significant expense and varies depending on the location and council tax band of the property.

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