Knowing what questions to ask estate agents is vital for buyers. The right questions can help you understand some key aspects about a property. These aspects may open the door to getting a better deal or even avoiding a disastrous property.
Most of us only go through the process of purchasing a property a handful of times. On the other hand, estate agents are involved in the buying & selling of properties on a day to day basis.
This experience places estate agents in a better position than the average buyer.
They know how to best sell a property, best things to say to cover up some of the lesser points of a property and can dodge tricky issues surrounding the property.
For the average buyer, this can be intimidating. Going to viewings knowing what questions to ask estate agents therefore helps towards levelling the playing field.
So to help potential buyers, we’ve devised a list of 37 questions to ask estate agents!
In addition, for those buyers looking for a property for letting purposes, we’ve added some bonus questions to help out would be landlords.
So, when buying the property, whether it’s for yourself to live in or as a rental property, what questions should you ask?
1. Why is the owner selling?
Always at the top of a list of questions to ask estate agent is why is the owner selling? Knowing the seller’s reason for selling could decide whether or not you purchase the property.
Of course most sellers are likely to be upgrading, downgrading or just moving on.
Some, however may be selling due to the crime rate in the area, noise pollution or problems with the house, all issues that you would want to stay clear of.
2. How long has the property been on the market?
The length of time a property has been on the market can sometimes expose a property’s problems.
If the home has been on the market for several months, even years without any interest, it’s likely there are major drawbacks to the property.
3. Have any major works been done to the property?
Being aware of the major works that property has had is imperative, as the work itself can have both positive and negative results.
If the work has been done well, then this can be ticked off as something that will not have to be changed for a while.
However if the improvements are shoddy it could mean extra costs.
4. How much is the council tax?
The 4th insert to our list of questions to ask estate agents, is related to a topic that annoys most people. Council tax is an ongoing cost of the property that has to be paid each month, forever!
Enquiring of the costs the property has is essential, especially with something like council tax which differs property to property.
5. What is the age of the property?
The age of the home could turn out to be a serious burden in the long run. The older a home is, the more repairs it’s likely to need in the future, which could become quite the cumulative expense.
6. How long has the owner lived in the property?
The age of the property and the length of time the owners have lived in the property are two separate problems. If the owner is moving out after a short period of time, it could signal issues of the property that aren’t being disclosed.
If the owner has been a long time resident, the property could be a victim to wear and tear.
7. Is the home wired for home security and the internet?
As soon as you move in you’ll want your internet, phone and home security working immediately, ensuring that it is already wired will help this.
8. What are the neighbours like?
You may keep yourself to yourself, but their neighbours may not. Noisy or abusive neighbours can transform the nicest neighbourhood into the worst.
9. Are the appliances included?
At home visits and open houses, sellers will arrange the home so that it is the most aesthetically pleasing it has ever been, usually making the appliances prominent.
How would the property look without those appliances? Many sellers do not include the appliances in the purchase and taking them away dramatically decreases the allure of the home.
10. Is the property child friendly?
For buyers with children, safeguarding a home is of utmost importance. Sellers should be able to show how the home has been adapted for children.
11. What’s the crime rate in the area like?
While this is information you could research independently, it’s good to hear first hand experiences from the area.
You should not only ask the sellers about the area, but the surrounding neighbours too.
12. How many people have owned the property previously?
The amount of previous owners could give some insight on the work the property has done.
The more owners the home has had, the more work that has probably been done and gone unrecorded. This would make it difficult to identify what needs to be improved in the near future.
13. What is the average cost of utilities?
Having an idea of utility bills allows you to gauge your expenses each month.
14. How soon can the owner move out?
There have been several occasions where properties have been sold and the seller has not yet found further accommodation. This had led to the seller staying in the home after it had been sold.
If you’re eager to move into the property, that may be hampered by the sellers purchase of another property.
Being in what’s called a ‘property chain’, can be frustrating if the seller’s purchase of another property is delayed.
15. Have there been any issues with the home?
You must be informed of issues such as water damage or leaks, this can prepare you for repairs or improvements that you may need to make in the future.
16. Is the home insulated?
In the UK, a warm home is essential. Having a home that is insulated not only helps to retain heat but also slashes utility bills. This could weigh heavily when deciding on a property.
17. What did the owner pay for the property and when?
The next installment of questions to ask your estate agent related to the current owner. You want to confirm that you’re paying a fair price for the abode. By enquiring about the price the current owners paid and when, you’ll have guidelines of sorts for what you should be paying now.
18. What activities within walking distance?
Depending on what you’re interested in the answer will vary. If you’re a parent you’ll probably be interested in local parks, swimming pools etc, whereas a young adult may be more intrigued by the local nightlife.
19. What improvements, if any, have been made?
The property should be sold to you without your prompting. However, if the seller is passive, ask if they’ve carried out any home improvements that increase appeal.
Questions to ask your estate agent, halfway point
We’ve hit the halfway point of our guide. Remember, if you’re buying a property for rental purposes, Rent Round can help when picking a letting agent,
Enter the postcode of your potential property below. We’ll then scan the market for the best priced letting agent near you.
I got the best priced agent in my area with all the services I wanted. Using Rent Round I could see all the local agents in my area after just putting in my postcode.
20. What did the neighbours pay for their properties?
While being aware of what the seller has paid for their property is useful, we cannot always rely on them to be truthful. Ask about the properties of neighbours and then ask the neighbours directly. You’ll gain a better understanding of house prices in the area.
21. Are there any convictions attached to the property?
Being involved in a crime is bad, being involved in a crime unknowingly is even worse. Having the owner’s alert of you of any prior criminal activity that the property has been involved in can save you a lot of legal time later on.
22. Has the home been recently appraised? If not, where did your price come from?
If a home hasn’t been appraised professionally it’s likely that the price was conjured up by the estate agent or the seller’s themselves. Questioning the origins of the price can sometimes deem whether or not it is fair.
23. What kind of closing date is the seller looking for?
Some sellers are looking for a quick sell and this can sometimes heavily decrease the amount they are willing to take for the property.
24. Have there been any odors in the property in the last 12 months?
Safety first! Strange odors in or around the property could be signs of a gas or other forms of leaks, all of which are not good for your health.
25. Have there been any deaths in the property?
Deaths in a property home do not only affect the superstitious. Having a death or murder in a property can significantly affect resale value later on, this should be considered if you plan on selling the property eventually.
26. Has the property been on the market before?
The property being on the market previously shows that it didn’t sell and there must be a reason for this. Enquire as to why the property didn’t sell, this could raise the red flags that other prospective buyers experienced.
27. Is public transport closely available?
For those who don’t drive or live in an area where driving is not practical, having public transport nearby is essential.
28. Have pets lived in the home?
Pet lover or not, animals take their toll on the property. Walls could be chewed, areas could have been defecated on, there may be a pungent aroma because of the critter. These can all be deciding factors.
29. How many people have viewed the house?
A small number of viewers for a property is never a good sign. The amount of people that have or are going to view the property shows the popularity of the home. A lack of popularity must be caused by something to do with the home or area.
30. Is there anything the neighbourhood community is lacking?
When moving into a new area you’ll want to know that everything you need is nearby i.e shops, post offices, libraries.
31. Are there any offers on the property?
The offer status on the property heavily affects the offer you make. A property with zero to a couple offers, can be reasonably negotiated, whereas a property with several offers holds less leighway.
32. Is the owner willing to accept a lower bid?
Probably the most important question in our list of questions to ask your estate agent. The property owner may be motivated by a quick sale. Rather than keeping the property on the market for longer, they may be enticed to sell quickly at a lower price.
We cover more aspects in our How To Buy A House – Bidding, Deposits & Mortgages article
Questions to ask your estate agent: Bonus questions!
If you’re buying a property to become a landlord, then there’s a bunch of other questions to ask your estate agent.
Some of these are questions you can ask the estate agent, while some you will need to ask yourself and do your own research to get the answers.
34. What is the expected rent?
An obvious question and an easily answered one. You will of course need to know this to work out your potential profit of your rental investment.
To answer it, simply head over to Zoopla, type in your postcode and you can see a list of other properties in your area. Then simply pick a similar property and use it to see what other landlords are charging, using this figure as your benchmark.
Knowing your potential rental income is also key for mortgage providers. Mortgage providers will use your potential rental income as a criteria when assessing your mortgage approval.
35. Are there good letting agents in your area?
Letting agents can be a landlord’s best friend or worst enemy. If you’re inexperienced in managing rental properties, or you may be too busy, then a letting agent can help.
A good letting agent will drastically help you manage your rental property. Make sure you read reviews, talk in depth about their services & understand what they won’t do in detail.
The estate agent may have a letting arm as part of their business. Indicating that you may be willing to use them as your letting agent, may help swing the property your way if their are other interest parties
36. What are letting agent fees in your area?
If you decide to get a letting agent, they will take a fee from your rental income.
The fee differs from city to city and depends on the level of services you want.
The basic tenant find can cost between 8-15%, fully managed 10-17% while guaranteed rent services can go up to 20% of your monthly rent.
37. What services do local letting agents provide?
A certain service may be key to you. You may already have a pipeline of tenants so not interest in paying a letting agent to find tenants. However you may be out of the country often so need rent collection assistance.
A letting agent can offer a range of services across finding tenants, rent collection, property maintenance, rental agreement drafting to name a few.
Understand what you need and then local agents what they offer.
To help with the bonus questions which are key to being a landlord, Rent Round is the best tool.
We’ve done the work for you. We compare and you save.
If you’re reading our questions to ask estate agents list and you’re buying a property for rental purposes, we can help you further.
You can use Rent Round to compare letting agent fees and performance within 30 seconds. There’s no need to do your own research or phone multiple agents.
Simply enter your postcode and a few property details in our letting agent comparison tool. You can then find the best letting agent for your property.
Questions to ask estate agents: Buying your first property!
Buying your first property will be the most exciting, daunting and anxiety filled purchase that you’ll ever make. You’ll constantly second guess whether you’re ready for such a commitment or if the property being considered right for you.
The stress in itself is biggest price to pay in the property buying process.
Apprehension aside, you’re buying a house! Kids always exchange stories of how they would want their house to look and where it would be, describing everything, down to the last plank of wood on the tree house.
Look at you now, all grown up and about to live out your childhood dreams.
For the sake of your inner child, you can’t mess up your first property purchase, there’s so much it could be; a passive income and the property that changes your career.
Or if you one day move into the property it could become the home you carry your partner into on your wedding day, the home you raise a family in, the home you grow old in.
We hope our list of questions to ask estate agents will help in your property journey.