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Questions everyone forgets to ask when viewing a house

When buying a property, no question is a stupid question. Here is a list of questions to ask when buying a new house.

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Article summary

  • Make a checklist of questions to ask when touring a house for sale.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask those questions. Buying a new house is a big investment and you need all the facts to inform your decision.
  • Find out why the owner is selling. This could influence your offer.
  • Do your research of the area online and ask the estate agent for facts and figures related to property values over a period of time.

The excitement of a successful house-hunting expedition can cloud the most logical, rational mind. Buying a home has been compared to playing a game of poker, with super-high stakes, as well as substantial incentives to bluff and avoid disclosure of some key truths.

10 questions to ask when viewing a house

If you’re one of those who can’t think straight when overwhelmed by possibility, perhaps you should carry a list of questions to ask when buying a house for the first time. Having all the facts at hand could make the difference between making a good or poor investment.

Here are the questions you should ask:

1. Why is the house on the market?

If you discover that the owner desperately needs the money, for whatever reason, you could take a chance on putting in a lower offer. Also, if they’ve only lived there for a short time, find out why they’re moving.

2. Is there anything you should know about the house or area?

A burgeoning nearby informal settlement, for example, could be a deterrent. Or there might be a known rat problem, or noisy neighbours.

3. What is included and what is excluded in the sale?

Some people will include things such as curtains and garden furniture in the sale. Make sure you see what is being offered and establish what fixtures and fittings are covered by this question before making an offer on a house.

4. When did the property go up for sale?

This timing could influence the price. If it’s been on the market for a while, and hasn’t sold, it could be because it is overpriced or that there are problems you don’t yet know about. The seller might be persuaded to accept a lower offer.

Bear in mind that South Africa is currently experiencing a buyers’ market, meaning that supply outstrips demand, especially in luxury housing areas. This also increases your chances of securing the home at a lower price.

5. How do you know if the price tag of the house is fair?

If the estate agent won’t explain it to you, that’s already a red flag, and it’s a good idea to do some area comparisons of your own. A good agent might advise you on what the seller will accept as an offer.

Investigate property trends to determine the average selling price for properties in this area. Property24 has a tool that enables you to do just that. The tool allows you to see the seasonal and long-term changes in property prices and sales throughout the country.

6. Ask the estate agent what offers have been submitted so far and find out what the status of those offers is. They might not tell you, but it’s worth a try.

7. When is the occupation date?

If the seller has somewhere else to go, they will be keen to close the deal quickly. That’s to your advantage.

8. Have any major works been conducted; when last was the geyser replaced; how much are the utility bills; how old is the property?

All of these speak to future maintenance of the property, which will affect your budgeting. Use ooba Home Loans’ calculators to help you work out what you can afford on your monthly bond repayments once you have all the figures.

9. Can you pick up signs of recent renovations?

Establish the extent of them and why they were taken on. If they could be classified as “minor works” in that they have not had a major impact on the structure of the home they may not have needed council approval beforehand. But some minor works do need approval so check if proof of council approval would have been necessary and if it exists at all. Usually, sellers will give a home a coat of paint to make a better impression, but check to see if that paint job is simply covering up damp issues or cracks.

Take this opportunity to think about renovations that could add value to the home. Especially be sure to check out the kitchen as this will be the heart of the home, and you need to know how much work may be required to upgrade the kitchen to modern standards.

10. Does the house have wooden floors?

If so, those floors either have to be in superb condition, or you’ll be wondering why they’re covered by wall-to-wall carpets or rugs. Ask if you can have a look underneath if the rugs are loose.

When you are ready to make an offer on a house, bear in mind that ooba Home Loans offers a range of tools that can make the home-buying process easier. Start with their Bond Calculator, then use the ooba Home Loans Bond Indicator to determine what you can afford. Finally, when you’re ready, you can apply for a home loan.

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