10 questions to ask when viewing a house

Viewing a house should be a fun and exciting experience. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in picturing your future life that you skip important questions in the present. That’s why we’ve put together our list of the top 10 questions to ask when viewing a house.

1: Why is the owner selling?

This should be the first thing you ask the estate agent who’s showing you around the property. While they may not give you the full reason, or they may not know it themselves, their answer might provide some useful insight about how motivated the owner really is to sell.

For example, the owner may be financing a property purchase of their own, they may be moving abroad, or simply downsizing. How they answer, what they say – and what they don’t say – should provide some clues about what kind of offer you should make.

As well as influencing any offer, you might discover any big problems in a timely manner. For example, if the owner is selling up because of bad neighbours, rising crime or unwelcome construction work, it’s better to know now rather than later.

2: What is the local area like?

Almost as important as the house itself is the area in which it is situated. They don’t say ‘location, location, location,’ for nothing!

When viewing a house, try to find out as much as you can about the locality. Estate agents are almost always local, so they should be able to answer all your questions. Make a list of everything that matters to you and don’t be afraid to dig a bit deeper.

From the quality of local schooling options to the availability of supermarkets and local independent retailers, local knowledge matters. If you love the house but aren’t sold on the area, you’re always going to have an uphill struggle enjoying both to the fullest.

3: What wider development plans are there for the area?

This is a big one. One thing that HomeViews resident reviewers mention time and again is the need to keep up with the ongoing development plans for the local area you plan to move into. You need to know because there are both negative and positives attached.

On the plus side, big development plans for an area may bring more amenities, a growing community and more variety. From retail parks, to cineplexes, transport links and more, development gives tangible benefits to your living situation. Another big plus is that such additions to the local area may drive up future house prices, to your benefit.

On the downside, development usually means disruption. If there’s lots of construction work planned near your future home, you may be looking at months or even years of added noise, increased pollution, and worse traffic.

Some thoughts from homeowner reviewers on HomeViews:

“I wish I knew that the developer would be allowed to change the planning applications to build taller buildings and therefore causing a decrease in the value of properties that were sold before.”

“There is a lot of development coming, make sure you look at all the wider plans for the area, we are particularly excited about the design district coming.”

“I wish had known that the nearby empty stores would remain empty. I thought it would develop into a coffee shop at least, but they have been empty for two years.”

4: What is the developer like?

If you’re looking at a new build, or even a new-ish build, then the property developer is crucial. Not only will you get some insight into the quality of the building materials and processes used, you may discover some specific benefits or features that they offer to both buyers and renters.

5: What comes included in the sale?

While it may sound obvious, it’s worth checking exactly what you’ll be getting with the property. The agent will likely want to highlight any extra features anyway, to improve your chances of making an offer. Regardless, it’s always a question worth asking.

  • Key things to check whether they are included in the sale are:
  • Greenhouses, sheds and outbuildings
  • All fixtures and fittings
  • White goods and general furniture

Another important and related question is asking where the boundary of the property lies. This will tell you who is responsible for the maintenance of any fences, walls or hedges between you and your neighbours.

6: How long has the property been on the market?

This is a key question that will give you insight into the overall picture of the property. If it’s just come on to the market, then all’s well. However, if three or four months have gone by without anyone buying it, that suggests that either the property is overpriced, or that there’s an underlying issue.

Knowing this should inform any offer you might make. If the sale is taking too long, the owner may be open to an offer lower than the asking price. If it’s just been put up for sale, you will likely need to put in your most competitive offer.

7: What are the utility and council tax bills like?

When viewing a house, you may be focused on whether you want to buy it, but you need to think about long-term costs too. Council tax bills are already significant nationwide, and are likely to rise by £220 within the next three years. Therefore, it’s good to know ahead of time what the damage will be.

As for utility bills, they change from provider to provider, but the current owner’s bills can be a useful yardstick. At the very least, you’ll get a sense of whether it’s cheap or expensive to heat the house.

8: How old is the house?

If you’re viewing a new build, the agent will be able to tell you exactly how old it is. If you’re looking at a period home or even older, it may be tricky to pin down its exact age. However, it’s useful to find out when a house was built, for several reasons.

Firstly, older houses tend to be more expensive to maintain, and are usually less energy efficient. On the flip side, they are generally made to be durable. This means that they experience fewer issues with leaks, mould, etc, than new builds.

Another key consideration is whether the building is listed or not. This is something that should be made clear to you from the start. Having a Grade 2 or Grade 2* listed home means that you are severely restricted in the type of renovations that you can make. We have a full guide to explain what the various grades of listed buildings mean, and how it affects you as the owner.

9: What’s the situation with the boiler?

A boiler replacement is a bill of anywhere between £500 to £2,500 just waiting to happen. Make sure you know how old and how reliable the boiler is. If the owners recently replaced it, this a big plus point to consider.

10: Can I come back for another viewing?

Of course, this should be a no-brainer. Unless the seller is motivated to sell up lightning-fast, or if there are multiple parties showing interest, you should be able to arrange a second or even third viewing at your convenience.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to take a second look at a home before making an offer. You will doubtlessly notice things that you might have missed the first time around. Not only will you spot any issues that might have slipped through the net on the first viewing, you’ll also get a better idea of how you could put your personal stamp on the place.

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Dealbreakers: 3 bonus questions to help you make a decision on a house

The list of questions you could ask an agent when viewing a house is virtually endless. Here are a few extra questions that could make or break your decision on whether to make an offer:

Has the owner made any recent changes to the property?

Whether the current owners have had any work done on the property might help you with your decision to make an offer. New kitchens, bathrooms or decorating can help add value to a house. It can also reassure you, if the property is older, that the current owners have addressed any ongoing issues.

What are the neighbours like?

This question is especially relevant if the property you’re viewing is terraced or in a built-up area. It’s likely that the agent has found out at least some basic details about the neighbours from the current owners. You might be interested to know if they work unusual shift patterns, if they have young children or if there’s any history of friction or disagreements.

How fast and reliable is the internet connection?

With the rise of home and hybrid working, internet speeds and reliability are becoming ever more crucial for homeowners. There are plenty of factors that affect broadband speed, with a main one being the distance of the property from the telephone exchange. The further you are from the exchange, the slower the internet connection is likely to be.

We hope that our list will prove helpful in your house-hunting efforts. If you need some more inspiration before viewing a house, take a look below at the things HomeViews homeowners wished they knew before buying a new build property.

What is HomeViews?

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.

written by

Jan Moys

A residential property expert with over 15 years’ experience creating content... Read all

A residential property expert with ov... Read all