Seven essential questions to ask during a home viewing

Viewing a property is your chance to get a feel for the place – but you don’t have to go with your gut. Explore and investigate the building yourself, but don’t forget to question the seller standing with you.

Whether you’re with an estate agent or the homeowner, you’ll find they hold crucial information that could help you secure the best deal (or avoid a dud). So be sure to ask the following questions:

1. Why are you/ they moving?

This could give you an idea of any shortcomings of the property or area, although it’s more likely you’ll find out whether they need to move quickly for work or family reasons. These are valuable pieces of information that can help you negotiate.

2. How long has it been on the market?

If it’s been up for sale for a while there may be hidden problems, or perhaps it might be an overlooked bargain. If it’s fresh to the market, find out if there have been many viewings. You could have competition.

3. What’s over here?

Don’t be afraid to ask about anything you can’t get to. For a clear picture of the property, you need to get the full ‘access all areas’ tour.

4. What are the neighbours like?

Problem neighbours can make your new home a difficult place to live, so make sure to ask the seller about them. Be wary of estate agents answering this question though. Research suggests that less than half of them bother to ask the seller who’s next door.

5. What’s that smell?

Freshly baked bread or colourful blooms are lovely, but they might be masking something. If you can smell damp or any odour you’re unsure of, point it out and ask them to explain.

6. Do you mind if I test this?

Which? research found that just 28% of buyers check taps and water pressure, and only 35% test light switches. It might feel awkward, but it’s the only way to be sure that everything works. If you’re nervous, ask the seller first (and be extra suspicious if they say no).

7. Have you made any improvements?

Sellers might be keen to emphasise the work they’ve done to improve their property, but you need to look out for renovations that require planning permission. If you think you’ve spotted anything, ask if they have the correct permissions. Missing paperwork can delay a property purchase or worse, cause problems with the council further down the line.