What to ask estate agents when purchasing a property

Buying a home involves research, whether you’re looking up properties and neighbourhoods to live in or deciding on which estate agent or agents to contact. The research doesn’t stop once you’ve contacted an agent, though. There are a number of questions that you can ask them to get a better idea of whether a property is right for you. These include the following:

  • Why is the owner selling the property?
    If the agent knows why, you might find out whether the owner would prefer to sell quickly, for example, if they’re moving out of town. This sort of information might be useful when you are negotiating the price of the property.
  • Has the property been on the market for long?
    If so, this could potentially be a red flag – perhaps there’s something unfavourable about the neighbourhood, the property itself, or its price. All things being equal, it may take a long time to sell the property should you purchase it and decide to put it up for sale in the future.
  • Have the owners lived there? For how long?
    It may be useful to know if the property is the owner’s home. If not, are there tenants? When does their rental contract expire?
  • What’s the minimum price that the owners will accept?
    It would be helpful if the estate agent is able to tell you the lowest price that the owner is willing to consider. This might potentially be below the asking price as well.
  • What other offers has the owner they received?
    The estate agent should also be able to tell you what other offers the owner has received. Knowing this will allow you to decide if you want to challenge any other bids by offering to buy at a slightly higher price.
  • Which council tax band does the property fall in?
    It’s important that you find this out, as it determines the amount of council tax that you’ll have to pay regularly.
  • What’s included with the property?
    Find out if the property comes with extras, for example, fixtures and furnishings. If it does, you may be able to save money and time that you’d otherwise have spent on obtaining them yourself. If you’d like to buy your own, though, it may help if the seller removes the existing ones from the property before you move in.
  • What work’s been done on it?
    It’s useful to know if any major work has been done on the property. If there has, check that the proper planning permissions were submitted and approved, otherwise you may run into complications later on.
  • Is it a listed property?
    There are limitations on the work that can be done to listed property, both internally and externally.
  • Is there a chain?
    A property chain involves link of buyers and sellers who are connected because one is buying or selling from someone else. For example, your seller may be purchasing a home from someone else. If they aren’t able to complete the purchase, they may not be able to sell their property to you. A property chain could potentially delay your purchase.
  • What’s the neighbourhood like?

    It helps if the estate agent can tell you more about the local area. Useful information can include crime rates, public transportation and school ratings.

If you’re planning on purchasing property and require a mortgage, you may find it useful to check your Equifax Credit Report & Score before applying for the loan. It’s free for the first 30 days, then £14.95 monthly, and gives you a view of your credit history, as well as how creditworthy lenders may find you.

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