What should I ask an Estate Agent when buying a property?

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What should I ask an Estate Agent when buying a property?

When looking at a property, don’t be afraid to ask questions about it.

Everything is negotiable from asking the seller to repair the guttering to extending the lease of a leasehold property before you purchase.  It all depends on what the buyer and seller are willing to compromise on.

Here we list the most important questions to ask an Estate Agent about a property you are looking to purchase.  If you get these questions in writing to the Estate Agent, it commits the Estate Agent and the seller to giving you honest answers.

Follow our guide:

1. Has the property been recently refurbished?

Ask why everything looks so new.  You may find that it may have been quickly refurbished for a quick sale.  This is not always the case, but remember, you can always ask to see receipts of any new works and check the reviews of the contractor the seller used to carry out the works.  If the property looks that good, why are they selling?

2. Is the plumbing in good working order, how old is the boiler, when was it fitted?

  • A property must have a good plumbing system.  You will not be able to see the pipes etc, but if you see watermarks or stains on internal and external walls, these could all point to unseen problems with the plumbing system.
  • Sagging floors or ceilings, damp and mildew could all point to major issues.
  • When viewing, check for watermarks, freshly painted rooms/ceilings, sagging ceilings.  Flush the toilet, run the taps in the bathrooms.  Ask the seller to see the paperwork and receipts for any recent works carried out.  Ask for the receipt and paperwork for the boiler – this will indicate how old it really is.
  • If in doubt, arrange for a plumber to check the sewer to see if any cracks in the pipes.
  • If there is a problem, you can always negotiate on the price with the seller.

3. Are the electrics in good working order – are they old, are they earthed?

  • Older properties may have issues with their electrics.  Ask to see electrical certificates (particularly if work has been carried out).
  • Are the lights situated on the ceilings or walls – are they near windows?  If they are, that may indicate that the electrical wiring is old.
  • Check the sockets, are they earthed?  If unsure, ask the Seller.
  • Check the fuse box, is it in good working order, is it old?
  • If you think the property needs a re-wire, ask the seller to factor that in on the sale price.

4. If the property is leasehold, how long is left on the lease?

  • If the property is a leasehold property, at some point you may need to extend the leaseClick here for further guidance on how to extend a lease.  The cost of this varies significantly.  You may not be able to lease extend if the building is owned by the National Trust.  The building may be located within a cathedral precinct or the Landlord, Freeholder or their Managing Agent may be a charitable housing trust.

5. If the property is a flat or apartment, how much is the service charge, ground rent and are there any proposed buildings works planned – how much will it all cost?

  • A leasehold property will usually be owned by a freeholder.  You could be subject to a monthly service, yearly ground rent fee and if any proposed building works need to be carried out, the cost will usually be shared amongst you and your neighbours.
  • Who will be arranging the buildings insurance?  How much will it cost, will it be included in the service charge?  The building insurance will usually be arranged by the freeholder, but the cost will be borne by you and your neighbours in your monthly service charge.
  • You will need to arrange your own contents insurance.

6. Is the property a listed building?

Check here to see if your potential new home is listed in England.

7. Does the property have an EPC?

An EPC will tell you about the properties energy performance.

8. What condition is the roof, how old is it?

A well maintained roof can last in excess of 30 years.  A poorly installed roof or a poor quality tile can indicate that the roof will need replacing.  Ask to inspect the loft, look for dry rot mainly caused by poor ventilation.  Does the roof have a solar panel?  Ask to see a receipt. Solar panels should have a guarantee of 25 years.

9. Are the gutters in good condition?

10. Is the drainage system in good working order?

11. Is the property in a flood area?

If the property is in a known flood area, think very carefully before you make that purchase.  The pros are that you can negotiate the price but do you really want high insurance costs (if you are able to get insured?)

12. Will your furniture fit in through the front door?

You must take into consideration whether your existing furniture will fit through the front door of the new property.  Make sure you take measurements of your largest furniture and ask the seller for measurements of the entry points of the property (or go and measure yourself).

Research the properties history:

  • Is subsidence a common problem in the area.  What soil is the property built on?
  • Has the property suffered subsidence in the past and what caused it?
  • Has the property or any of the neighbours had an issue with Japanese Knotweed?
  • Was the property the site of a crime?  Always ask the question or research it yourself.
  • Was the property extended previously?  Always ask to see receipts where possible to confirm that they were carried out by a professional contractor.
  • If you have a dog or a cat, check that the garden doesn’t contain poisonous plants.