With reports of queues to view houses in popular areas, not seen since the days of the Celtic Tiger, you want to make sure you ask all the right questions. You don't want to waste time traipsing round the wrong house when the perfect one could be around the corner.
Read on to discover 7 questions you should ask your estate agent to get the information you really need before putting together your viewing list.
No, really, where is it?
We all know the three most important things about buying property in Ireland: location, location and location. But is it really where you think it is? Estate Agents won't transform one post code into another. But sometimes place-names can be omitted from addresses. Check with the agent you have the full address and suss it out on Google Maps before you add the house to your viewing list.
What is the floor space?
The next most important thing to assess is a property's size. Agents have been known to use wide-angle lens photographs to make homes look bigger. But floor space is the first thing they measure when putting a property up for sale. So make sure to get the actual dimensions of the home before you go to see it so you're not wasting your time.
Is there room to extend?
Agents love talking about a property's 'potential'. They may delight in telling you how the cottage you are looking at can be transformed into a palatial four-bedroom home with a little TLC. But Irish estate agents won't mislead you if you ask about planning when they know planning permission would be denied. You also shouldn't mislead yourself. Can you really pay for the renovation now or stomach living in a fixer-upper until you can fix it up?
Are there any planning or structural issues?
Estate agents know any planning issues will show up sooner or later in the sales process. So they won't want to waste their time and yours by covering it up if you ask them outright. Likewise, obvious structural problems are likely to be revealed - especially if you ask. If the property has an attic bedroom, for example, check if it qualifies as an actual room. If it doesn't it should be described as such in the estate agent's brochure.
How long has the house been on the market?
A property has just been freshly posted online. But, in reality, it has been put up for sale again for the fourth time in two years because every time someone tries to buy it, it won't pass a survey. In the current climate of rising prices, there is something suspect about properties that are a long time on the market and can't sell. Ask your estate agent the history of the house so you can be properly informed. And remember this top tip. If the grass is long at the base of the agents sign post, but neatly trimmed in the garden, the house may have been on the market for some time (or at least as long as it too the grass to grow!).
Have there been any bids?
Private treaty sales in Ireland are just like auctions – only slower. So it's important to get a feel for the "atmosphere in the room." How many bids? How did the bidding progress? Was it slow or frantic, jumping up dramatically, or edging up cautiously? You also need to know when the sale is likely to be wrapped up.
Once you make a bid, you're "in the game" and the agent should keep you updated on the bidding process. You'll always get another chance if you're outbid. But if you don't make a bid, you may not be 'kept in the loop' and may lose out if the house goes "sale agreed" without your knowledge.
Is the extension pre-63?
Many extensions built without planning permission are allowed to stand if they date back before 1963, when the relevant legislation kicked in. But that doesn't mean that they are ok. There are ramshackle 'lean-tos' masquerading as kitchens and bathrooms up and down Ireland. You may have to knock it down and start from scratch – or, worse, the lender may not sanction the loan.
Looking for a mortgage to buy a home?
These are just some of the questions you should ask your estate agent when viewing a house for purchase. If you haven't gotten that far yet and want to discuss your options check out our First Time Buyer and Next Time Buyer Guides.
Use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.
And don't forget, if you'd like to chat through your mortgage options book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting today.
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