Every 35 seconds, someone chooses MORE THAN ^

Every 35 seconds, someone chooses MORE THAN ^

Protecting customers with insurance since 2001

Questions to ask when buying a house

  • 31, May 2023
  • Read time: 11 mins

Buying a house can be daunting, but fear not, this handy guide will provide hints and tips to make the process clearer. Yes, house buying can be tricky but estate agents are duty-bound to tell you the truth. So, asking the right questions can make things easier and can help you pick the home insurance cover to suit your needs.

Couple speaking to a solicitor.

1. How long has the house been on the market? 

This is a great place to start. If the house has been on the market for 3 months or more, then try to ask why this might be. There could be a problem that you haven't spotted yet.

Surveys will help uncover potential issues but it’s better to find these out sooner rather than later.

2. How much interest has there been in the property? 

Consider things like how people have viewed the house and how many offers have been made. If you visit the property on a weekend, look out for viewings before and after yours to give you an idea of popularity.

Estate agents won’t tell you the actual number of offers made but they'll usually indicate if any offers made are close to the asking price, so you'll know how fast you need to move.

3. Why is the owner selling the property? 

This is vitally important. The owner might just be moving to a different area or a bigger property, but there could be plenty of other reasons that are unappealing to a prospective buyer. Is the property too near a noisy road? Are they tired of the upkeep? Food for thought.

4. Are there any problems with the neighbours?

Sellers are legally obliged to divulge any disputes with neighbours. Also remember to ask how long the owner has lived there – as a quick move is another sure sign of issues.

Boundary disputes are often difficult to resolve and can be long running sagas that you could unwittingly inherit, but it's your responsibility to find out to begin with - not the sellers.

You can check the boundary by asking for a copy of the title plan from the Land Registry which shows the boundary marked clearly in red.

5. What do you like about the area?

You could ask your estate agent if they'd be happy to live in the area themselves. Even better, query the seller about the area if they're present when you view the property. Most importantly, do your own research!

If the schools are bad, the crime rate is high or you're too far from public transport, then you might need to think again. You may wish to check local schools’ OFSTED reports or crime rates in the neighbourhood to inform your decision-making.

6. What work has been done to the house?

Make sure you can see planning permission for any recent works and consent of the freeholder (if applicable). If proper permission wasn’t obtained for an extension, then you could have to tear it down.

A fresh coat of paint could mean the sellers are covering cracks. Lift rugs to make sure they’re not hiding anything. Knowing about the history of the house will make it easier to check you have the right level of home insurance.

7. What's included in the sale?

If it isn’t in the contract don’t presume it will be there when you move in. This is what contracts are for, after all. So, particularly with furniture and fixtures and fittings, that wall mounted TV (and the wall mounting itself) will in all likelihood not be there when you move in.

8. How old is the property? Is it listed?

Finding out how old your property is will give you clues as to how the property has been constructed. Consider questions like whether it's a new or recent build and does it benefit from greener building regulations.

If the property was built in the 18th century, it might have been built with a substance that insurance companies have an issue with, like bungaroosh or mundic.

If you'd like to get home insurance for a listed property or one made of unusual construction, please call us for a quote.

9. How’s the water pressure? 

It may seem trivial but imagine waking up on the first morning in your new home to discover that the shower is a trickle.

Check the taps and shower yourself as you’re looking around the property.

10. How old is the boiler?

The best way to check how old the boiler is in the home you’re viewing is to get the serial number. This will be unique to that boiler, so finding out how old it is shouldn’t be a problem.

Check the drop down panel for the serial number. This will contain the date the boiler was manufactured. If it’s not in the drop down panel, check under the boiler or on the side. There should also be a user guide or manual that provides you with the answers you need.

Please note, upgraded home emergency cover is not available if you live in rented accommodation. 

* Boiler age and servicing restrictions apply.

Please note, Upgraded home emergency cover is not available if you live in rented accommodation. 

11. What's the energy performance like?

Getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement if you're selling, leasing or renting.

Arranging an EPC survey will help to determine how energy efficient the property is by giving it an energy rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient), and includes a list of recommendations on how to improve it.

Buildings that achieve a good EPC rating may benefit from lower energy bills, higher property values and a lower carbon footprint.

12. When do the current owners need to move by? Have the sellers found somewhere new?

Being in a chain can create complications for buyers as any delays or complications for the sellers will have a knock-on effect.

The ideal situation is that the property is chain-free. If the property isn't chain-free, knowing that the sellers are organised and keen to move quickly can bode well for an uncomplicated sale.

13. Is there any evidence of damp? 

Use your senses when viewing a property, especially when it comes to spotting tell-tale signs of damp, such as

  • Stains or patches of mould on walls, around windows and doors
  • A musty smell
  • Excessive condensation on windows
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Paint blisters
  • Crumbling plasterwork

Remember, damp repair isn’t covered by many buildings insurance policies because it's a gradually occurring issue and would fall within the 'maintenance and normal use or ageing exclusion'.

14. How’s the broadband service and mobile signal in the area?

The best way to check what broadband you’ll have in your new neighbourhood is to search online for broadband providers and coverage near your new address.

You’ll find the providers that have listed their service in that area. Then, do a check with those providers to see what speeds they offer.

It's also a good idea to see who currently supplies broadband services to the property, so you'll know whether or not a new line needs to be installed.

15. Has there been an asbestos survey carried out?

According to the Health and Safety Executive asbestos kills more people every year than road traffic accidents, so you'll need to find out whether an asbestos survey has been carried out. This may not apply to new or even recently built houses.

Typically, you’ll find asbestos in old fire blankets, roofs including the garden shed, floor packing and insulation panels, ceilings and doors.

16. What council tax band is the property in?

Finding out the council tax band of your property is essential if you want to estimate how much you’ll be paying in household bills every month. Visiting the government website and putting in your postcode will provide instant answers.

17. Has the property had any claims?

When buying a new home, you'll need to contact the insurer with relevant details of the new property.

It might be a good idea to find out about any previous insurance claims from things like water leaks, storms and flooding or theft, so you're able to to share these with your insurance company - and be better prepared for any future events.

Get extra peace of mind

You don't need to play a guessing game when buying a new home! There's plenty of key questions you can ask to ensure you're fully in the know.

It's important you ask the right things to put your mind at rest before the big move, so feel free to refer back to this guide if you're ever in need of a quick refresh.

Learn more about home insurance

Share it with your friends