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7 essential questions you’ll be glad you asked at a house viewing

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21 Jul 2017

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There is nothing more exciting than going to have a look at a new house. You never know what’s behind that door – it could be the home that you’ve dreamed about all your life or it could be an unmitigated disaster.

What’s with the pink satin or the weird smell behind the curtains?

It’s easy to get carried away with the enthusiasm of it all and miss out on little problems. And sure, there’s nothing wrong with a house that has a few issues, but what happens if you fail to spot a small problem that eventually turns into a massive flaw?

A house is the biggest investment you will likely ever make – so it’s worth getting ready ahead of time! Here are the 7 questions you should ask before signing on the dotted line.

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

This is the first, and most important, question you should ask your estate agent. Not only does it give you an idea of how in-demand the property is, but if the answer is ‘over six months’ then that could be indicative of possible red flags.

You need to ask why loads of other people have viewed the property but passed on it. If the issue is with poor staging or dodgy décor, there is hope still!

2. How long have the current owners lived there and why are they moving?

This is a slyly important question to ask. If they have been there for over 10 years and are either downsizing or looking for a larger home, you’re likely safe enough.

If they’ve been there for less than three years though, questions need to be asked. Are there noisy neighbours or anti-social behaviour in the area? It’s definitely something to consider before making an offer!

3. Is the extension legit?

Many homeowners have taken the trouble to extend their homes.

They don’t realise, however, that their extension needs planning permission. Any extension over 40 square metres requires planning permission.

Even extensions smaller than 40 metres don’t get the all-clear if it restricts the open space at the back of the house to less than 25 square metres. Get your measuring tape out!

However, extensions built before 1963 don’t need planning permission at all. Still, it’s worth asking to save yourself hassle down the line.

4. What is included in the price?

Don’t fall in love with a house because of the amazing couch or the cute Smeg appliances in the kitchen. Some owners, particularly in high-end homes, use staging companies that clear out the owner’s furniture and replace it with high-end contemporary furniture that’s only there for as long as the house is on the market.

Find out exactly what is included in the price. Some home-buyers have arrived at their new house to find everything removed – including light switches and plug sockets. So make sure to get a list of exactly what would be yours.

5. What is the energy rating for the property?

Every property sold in Ireland has to have a BER rating. This is a rating of how energy efficient the property is.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking the BER score is a purely environmental measure. It can really make a difference when it comes to the cost of running the house. In the case of the average three-bed semi-detached property, an A rating would cost a tiny €190 to heat per year. If the property had a G rating (the worst you can get), it would cost you €4,000 per year.

So, if you lived in the house for 20 years, you’d save €76,400 by having an A rating.

6. Have the sellers found their next property?

It’s easy to only think about yourself when you are looking at a property. But it’s worth thinking about the seller’s situation too. Be brazen and ask if they’ve bought their next house.

If they haven’t, you may well end up having to wait on them to make their next move before you make yours!

7. How can I contact the seller when it comes to making a bid?

Even if you fall in love with a property the moment you lay eyes on its pretty façade, try to maintain your composure and ask the estate agent how you can go about making a bid.

Karl Deeter is an expert in the area of Irish property and he recently said, “Never bid on a property while you are at the property, always walk away, you can show interest and say you’ll be in touch, but offers there and then serve you no purpose other than to scream out ‘I’m eager and inexperienced!’”

And no one wants that!

Are you ready to make the move to a house of your own?

If you are thinking about making a move, why not pop into our super-helpful mortgage advisors who can let you know exactly what to do. Or why not check out our first-time buyer’s guide to help you along the way.

You can also book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting to talk to one of our experts and make that dream house a reality.

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