Are you in the market for a new home? As one of the most significant investments you will ever make, buying a house can be an overwhelming process.
With so many factors to consider, it can be challenging to know where to begin. But did you know that asking the right questions can save you thousands of pounds in the long run?
To help you make an informed decision when buying a home, we’ve compiled a list of 10 crucial questions that every potential homeowner should ask. From the property’s condition to the neighbourhood crime rates, these questions are designed to give you all the information you need to make the right choice and potentially save up to £47,000 in hidden costs.
All potential cost savings were calculated using data from My Local Toolbox’s home maintenance searches, and represent the average amount of each potential repair.
1. What is the history of the property?
Potential cost savings: £4,000
Has it been on the market for a long time or has it been sold multiple times in a short period of time?
When looking to purchase a home, it’s essential to research the history of the property. This will give you a good idea of how desirable the home has been in the past and if there are any underlying issues that have made the property difficult to sell.
One of the first things to look at is how long the property has been on the market. If the home has been on the market for a long time, it could be an indication that there are underlying issues with the property. This may include things like a poor location, extensive repairs that need to be made, or a high asking price that is not in line with market conditions.
It’s also important to look at how many times the property has been sold in a short period of time. If the property has changed hands multiple times over a short period, it could be a sign of an issue with the property or the location. This could include issues such as poor neighbourhood conditions or crime, lack of necessary amenities in the area, or a poorly maintained property.In contrast, if the property has been owned by the same person or family for a long time, it could be an indication that the property has been well-maintained, and the neighbourhood is desirable to live in.
In contrast, if the property has been owned by the same person or family for a long time, it could be an indication that the property has been well-maintained, and the neighbourhood is desirable to live in. It’s also important to ask the seller about any renovations or upgrades made to the property over the years. This will give you a good idea of how well the property has been taken care of and any potential maintenance issues that may arise.
2. Are there known issues such as subsidence or damp? Have they been addressed?
Potential cost savings: £4,500
It’s essential to ask whether there are any known issues with the property, such as subsidence or damp. Subsidence and damp can cause significant damage to a property, and addressing these issues can be costly. Therefore, it’s important to understand the potential costs associated with such issues before making an offer on the property.
If there have been any issues in the past with subsidence or dampness in the property, it’s important to ask whether they have been addressed and what remedial work has been carried out. For example, if there has been a history of subsidence, has underpinning been carried out to stabilise the property’s foundations? Or if there has been a history of damp, has the cause of the damp been identified and rectified, and has any necessary repairs been made?
It’s vital to ensure that any issues with the property have been properly addressed before committing to buy the property. Failure to address subsidence or damp issues can lead to significant problems down the line, which can be expensive to rectify.
3. What is the energy efficiency rating of the property? Are there any energy-saving measures put in place?
Potential cost savings: £2,000
Remember to consider the energy efficiency of the property when looking for a new home. The energy efficiency rating of a property is a measure of how energy efficient it is, with higher ratings indicating better energy efficiency.
Properties in the UK are rated on a scale of A to G, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least. Asking about the energy efficiency rating of a property can give you an idea of the potential energy costs associated with the property. A property with a low energy efficiency rating may be more expensive to run, as it will require more energy to heat and cool. This can lead to higher energy bills, which can add up over time.
In addition to asking about the energy efficiency rating of the property, it’s also important to ask whether there are any energy-saving measures in place. For example, does the property have double-glazed windows or insulation in the walls and roof? These measures can help to improve the energy efficiency of the property and reduce energy costs. This will give you an idea of any potential upgrades that may need to be made to the property to improve its energy efficiency. For example, if the property does not have double-glazed windows, you may need to factor in the cost of installing them.
4. Are there any planning restrictions in the area?
Potential cost savings: £5,000
Make sure to ask about any potential planning restrictions or future development plans that could affect the value or use of the property. This is especially important if you’re planning to make significant changes to the property or if you’re looking for a long-term investment.
Planning restrictions can limit what you can do with the property in terms of building, renovation, or expansion. For example, if the property is located in a conservation area, there may be restrictions on what changes you can make to the exterior of the property. Similarly, if the property is listed, you may be limited in what changes you can make to the interior and exterior.
To find out about any planning restrictions that could impact the property, you can start by looking at the local council’s website. Here, you can find information about local planning policies and any upcoming planning applications or development plans. You can also speak to the seller, the estate agent, or a local planning consultant to get a better understanding of any potential issues.
5. Are there any ongoing or upcoming major infrastructure projects in the area?
Potential cost savings: £10,000
Asking about ongoing or upcoming major infrastructure projects in the area is important as it can have a significant impact on the value and livability of the property. Examples of such projects include new highways, railways, airports, or even large-scale building projects that could affect the area’s character.
If there are plans for a new highway or railway nearby, it may cause an increase in noise pollution and traffic, which could lower the property’s value. On the other hand, if the project improves access to the property and local amenities, it could increase the property’s value.
It is also important to consider the long-term effects of infrastructure projects. For example, if a new housing development is planned in the area, it could increase competition in the local property market and drive down prices.
By asking about any ongoing or upcoming infrastructure projects in the area, you can make a more informed decision about the property’s potential value and livability. This information can also help you negotiate a better price with the seller.
6. What is the condition of the roof, windows, and doors, and are they in need of repair or replacement?
Potential cost savings: £12,000
When considering purchasing a property, it is essential to assess the condition of the roof, windows, and doors. The roof is the first line of defence against the elements, and if it’s in poor condition, it could lead to significant issues such as water leaks, dampness, and even structural damage. Windows and doors are also important components that contribute to a property’s overall energy efficiency and security.
To get an accurate picture of the condition of these components, it is advisable to hire a professional surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection. They will be able to identify any signs of wear and tear, damage, or structural issues that may not be apparent to an untrained eye.
If any repairs or replacements are needed, it’s important to factor in the cost of these repairs into the overall price of the property. Depending on the severity of the issue, it could range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds.
7. Are there any service charges or ground rent associated with the property?
Potential cost savings: £2,000
Always make a note to ask about any additional costs associated with purchasing the property. Service charges and ground rent are two common fees that may be associated with a property. Service charges are usually applicable to leasehold properties and are paid to the management company or landlord for the maintenance and repair of communal areas and services, such as lifts or gardens. Ground rent is paid by leaseholders to the freeholder or landlord as a fee for using the land the property is built on.
It’s essential to know how much these charges are and what they cover, as they can have a significant impact on the overall cost of owning the property. For example, service charges for flats can range from a few hundred to thousands of pounds per year, depending on the size and condition of the building and the services provided. Ground rent can also vary, from a few pounds per year to several hundred pounds per year.
Ensure that you factor these costs into your budget and avoid any surprises later on. You may also want to ask about any upcoming changes to the charges, such as planned increases, which could affect your ability to afford the property in the long run.
8. What is the crime rate in the area? Are there any safety concerns?
Potential cost savings: £1,000
When buying a house, safety is a top priority for most people, and it’s important to be aware of the crime rate in the area you are considering. Crime statistics can be obtained from the local police department, which can provide information on the types of crime that occur in the area, the frequency of such incidents, and any trends or patterns that may be present.
It’s also a good idea to do your own research on local crime by looking at online resources such as the UK government’s crime statistics website, which provides data on crime rates and trends by region.
In addition to looking at crime statistics, it’s important to be aware of any safety concerns specific to the property you are considering. This may include issues such as poor lighting, inadequate locks, or other security vulnerabilities. You should also consider the surrounding area, such as the presence of public transport or local amenities, as these can have an impact on safety.
9. What is the average property value in the area and how does the asking price compare?
Potential cost savings: £5,000
It’s always a good idea to have a good understanding of the local property market. One way to gauge this is by researching the average property values in the area. This can be done by looking at recent sales data for similar properties or by consulting with a local estate agent.
Knowing the average property value in the area can help you determine whether the asking price of the property you’re considering is reasonable or overpriced. It can also give you an idea of the potential for future appreciation in value, which could impact your long-term investment.
However, it’s important to note that average property values can vary significantly between different areas, so it’s crucial to compare like-for-like properties when making comparisons. For example, a property in a more desirable location may have a higher average value than a similar property in a less desirable area.
10. What is the council tax band for the property, and how much does it cost per year?
Potential cost savings: £1,500
Finally, think about council tax banding before you make your purchase. We know this likely won’t be make or break when purchasing a house, but it’s always worth keeping in mind. The amount of council tax you’ll pay is determined by the council tax band assigned to the property by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which is based on the property’s value as of 1 April 1991. Council tax bands range from A to H, with A being the lowest and H the highest. The annual cost of council tax varies depending on the council tax band of the property and the location.
To find out the council tax band for a property, you can visit the VOA website or contact the local council. Once you know the council tax band, you can also find out the cost of council tax for the property by contacting the local council. It’s important to consider the cost of council tax when budgeting for your home purchase and ongoing expenses, as it can be a significant expense and varies depending on the location and council tax band of the property.
In conclusion, buying a house is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, and it’s important to do your due diligence to avoid any costly surprises down the line. By asking the right questions before making an offer, you can potentially save yourself £47,000 in repairs and maintenance costs.
Adam Clark, founder of My Local Toolbox added “As a company, one of our main goals is to provide people with valuable information to help them make informed decisions about one of the most significant purchases of their life – buying a home. Through our research, we’ve found that asking the right questions when buying a house can make a substantial difference in the amount of money you could save. Our findings show that by asking these 10 questions, people could potentially save up to £43,000 when buying a house. We hope that by sharing this information, we can empower individuals to approach the home-buying process with confidence and make the best decision for their financial situation.”
From getting a property survey to understanding any potential planning restrictions or future development plans, these 10 questions can help you make an informed decision about the property you’re considering buying. By taking the time to ask these questions and do your research, you can feel more confident in your decision and avoid any costly mistakes.