Buying a property is one of the single most important purchase decisions you’ll make, and yet, if surveys are to be believed, the average viewing time has dropped from more than 90 minutes in 2007 to less than half an hour today. Yes, it’s a competitive market, but it’s still crucial to do your homework so there are no hidden surprises later down the line. The following questions should cover all the bases on the day

1. Why is the owner selling?

This serves two purposes: if the seller is moving due to the area or property, it should ring alarm bells that require further investigation. If on the other hand, they are selling as a result of personal circumstances or relocation, they’ll be interested in selling quickly. This puts you in a strong position for price negotiation.

2. How long has the property been on the market?

This can also help to shed light on the urgency of the sale to boost your negotiation stance, however, don’t base your decision on this question alone. Various factors can affect a sale, from a chain falling through to the health of the market in general, and not necessarily the property itself.

3. Is the property part of a chain?

A good estate agent will detail the lack of a property chain on a listing because properties without the burden of an onward chain are simple and quick to move into. If the agent has overlooked this detail, ask during a viewing.

4. Has the property undergone any major work recently?

Renovating a property to increase its value is commonplace in today’s market, and it has become easier to do thanks to increased permitted development rights. However, you’ll want to know why the work was done recently and whether any ongoing work will impact your move. By law, estate agents must disclose any ongoing issues.

5. Are there any restrictions I should know about?

Is the property listed? And is it in a conservation area? Are there any property covenants that will restrict renovation? Always find out what exterior and interior restrictions apply if any.

6. Can I see an Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate is presented every time a property is bought or sold. If it isn’t, the property may be listed and therefore exempt from modern upgrades. An EPC is simple to look at. If a property is rated an A or B or at the upper end of a number scale from 1-100, it’s well insulated and energy efficient. If the home is classed as a D grade or below, consider the costs and work to improve the grade before you buy.

7. What are the bills like?

Again, if the property is a grade A or B, you should expect to see lower energy bills. Knowing the running costs of a property is important if you’re drawing up an accurate household budget as part of a mortgage agreement.

8. Can you tell me about the freehold/leasehold?

Traditionally, houses are sold as freehold and the majority of flats are leasehold. As we’ve discussed before, beware of a below market average flat listing which doesn’t state the length of its lease. If the lease is below 85 years old, it will affect it mortgage applications, and extending the lease could be costly. For more information about leasehold and freehold terms, contact our professional services team.

9. What’s capital growth and rental yields like in the area?

If you’re treating the property as an investment that could one day become a rental property or second home, knowing market performance is key. Find out how much profit homeowners today who bought at the start of the millennium stand to make in either capital growth or rental yields. What the local council is planning for the surrounding area as local regeneration often benefits properties nearby.

10. Can I try running a tap?

A dribbling or stone cold water supply in the home could be a sign of larger plumbing issues that could prove expensive to rectify.

11. What is the local area like?

What’s available in the immediate area? List local amenities like shops and schools, transport links and green spaces during the viewing so you know that your needs will be met as your family grows and priorities change.

Our residential team has been managing the sales of property assets across the region for decades, led by Austin Gray Partner, Graham Farthing. We ensure every buyer is guided by an expert who is well-versed with the Sussex property market and market trends. Please take a look at our current residential listings to book a viewing or call our team on 01273 232 232 for more information.