There’s so much to remember and think about when buying a home for the first time, it can be easy to forget to ask key questions, both of estate agents when viewing properties and of yourself when working out your budget.
Buying a home is the biggest financial commitment most of us will ever make, but it’s also important that you have an emotional connection with a property, too.
To make sure you’re certain a property is right for you on both of these fronts, it’s key to ask the right questions.
Questions to ask when viewing and buying a house
Now the property market has picked up again after the coronavirus lockdown, and with the cut to stamp duty in full swing, it’s a great time to buy.
If you’re thinking of putting your feet on the first rung of the ladder and you’re starting to view properties or consider how much you can afford to spend, here are seven key questions you should seek answers to…
1 Why are the current owners selling up?
While the seller’s estate agent isn’t obligated to give you this information, finding out what you can about the vendor’s reasons for selling can help you establish how keen they are to move quickly, or whether they’re just testing the water to see how much interest there is in their home.
2 How long has the property been on the market?
Finding out this information can help you assess how much to offer on the property, if you wish to do so.
If a property has been on the market for some time and the seller is keen to move to their next property, they may be more flexible with what they deem to be an acceptable offer.
Remember, though, some properties will appear as if they have been on the market for a long time, but when you factor in the coronavirus lockdown, in real terms many actually haven’t.
3 Is the seller in a chain with their next property purchase?
Because you’re a first-time buyer, you’re in a superb position as you have no property to sell.
That will be extremely appealing to any seller and puts you in a strong position to negotiate.
But you should always try to find out how many people are in the chain from your seller’s side of the deal, as this could affect how smoothly things will run should you buy their property.
4 How much can I afford to borrow?
Staying on top of your budget is key when buying a home for the first time – and not over-stretching yourself is even more important.
Before you set out on your journey looking at properties to buy, get an idea of what you can borrow in terms of a mortgage.
Explore lenders and get an agreement in principle that states what you could potentially borrow – this will help you focus on properties within that budget and will also show sellers that you can move quickly and have your finances in order.
5 What is included in the sale?
Find out, when viewing properties, what is likely to be included in the sale.
Buying a house for the first time isn’t just a large financial outlay through the purchase price alone – you may also have to spend money on furnishings and white goods.
But if the white goods and other items like sheds are included in the sale, that can save you substantial money.
You’ll also want to avoid disappointment on moving-in day if an item you hoped would remain has been taken by the seller, so make sure you understand everything that’s being left behind and everything that is not.
6 Which survey should I have?
First-time buyers often get confused by surveys and the type of survey they should have on a property.
When buying a home, it’s advisable to have a survey done to highlight any potentially costly issues before you buy.
There are several types of survey you can choose from and the type you choose will often be dictated by the property’s age and condition:
- Condition Report: This is the most basic type of survey and is often used by buyers purchasing new-build properties that are backed by an NHBC certificate
- Homebuyer Report: With this survey, you’ll get the Condition Report detail, plus an estimate of any insurance rebuild cost and a market valuation
- Structural Survey: If you’re buying an older property, or you’re worried about the structure of the home you’re buying, you should consider a full Structural Survey. This will include information on any defects and the repair options / projected costs
7 Why kind of mortgage should I get?
Your mortgage will almost certainly be the largest amount of money you ever borrow, so it’s important to make sure you choose the right kind.
Most mortgages are fixed rate mortgages, which means you pay a certain amount of fixed interest over a period of time, usually between two and five years but sometimes longer.
Other types of mortgages include tracker mortgages and offset mortgages, that follow the Bank of England’s base rate of interest when it goes up or down, meaning you could pay a higher rate or a lower rate.
Speak to an independent financial advisor who will be able to guide you through the different kinds of mortgages available to you.
Now, you’re up to speed on the main questions you should ask when buying a home, take a look at our guide to saving for a deposit.