When choosing your new home it’s easy for your heart to rule your head. Remember, this is likely to be one of the biggest financial decisions you make, so make sure your head also gets a look-in!

Once you have shortlisted property that seems to match the main criteria for the home of your dreams, it’s time to get serious. Start asking questions. The current owner is an obvious port of call and by definition, they are best placed to answer any questions you might have, but can they be trusted to be absolutely truthful!?

Nowadays, conveyancers will send the seller a long list of searching questions which the seller must answer truthfully, but there is no substitute for asking your own questions face-to-face. At the very least, you might detect a certain unease when you ask how good the wifi is that might have you making further enquiries of what’s available before committing.

It’s not just the owner that you should consider speaking to either. Why not pop around and say hi to the neighbours. They’re probably just as intrigued by who’s likely to move in as you are to see if they’re all-night ravers or mass murderers! Trust your instincts.

As for the seller, you should be trying to build a picture. How long have they lived there? Why are they moving home? Have they found anywhere else? Is a purchase agreed? Is there a long chain? Are they sure they want to move? What timeframe suits them best? Will they be leaving the greenhouse? Would they consider selling that wonderful old sit-on lawnmower or the big wardrobe in the spare room? You get the idea.

You want to protect yourself from the abortive costs you might incur if your seller is a bit ‘flakey’. You might also secure a bargain on items that the seller would find it easier to leave than move to their new property.

You should also be asking about neighbours. Have there been any disputes? Are any of them keen but poor violinists or players of the bagpipes? Where does everyone park? When was the electrical wiring last checked? Do they have certificates or warranties for work done? How old is the boiler? Is the loft well-insulated? What’s the average monthly energy bill and council tax charges?

Before you make an offer, you might also want to know how long the property has been on the market? How many viewings have they had? Is time of the essence with the sale?
When was it last rewired? Does the cellar flood? Are there any new developments proposed in the area? Is there subsidence or flooding nearby?

The more complete a picture you can build both before and after you make your offer, the better protected you are from the unknowns in the transaction. Don’t be afraid to ask.

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