What questions should buyers ask at an open house day?

Make the most of your property viewing by preparing your questions in advance

Make the most of your property viewing by preparing your questions in advance - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Open house days give buyers an opportunity to view multiple properties back-to-back – while also checking out the competition.

But in the heat of the moment it can be difficult to think of the right questions to ask – so here are few of Strutt & Parker’s suggestions:

1. Have many offers been made?

Although it is against the law for the agent to disclose exactly how much people have offered, they will tell you how many offers have already been made. If none have yet to be made, this could take the pressure off placing a bid straight away – but if three or four have already come in, you may need to act quickly to secure the sale.

2. Why does the seller want to move?

It is always useful to understand why a seller is moving so you are perfectly at liberty to ask. You may not always hear the exact reason due to agent discretion but ask the question anyway, and do your best to try to read between the lines.

3. How long has this property been on the market?

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Before arriving, do your homework on property portals like Rightmove to see if the house has been on with another agent or for sale at a different price. If the house has been on for over six months, this may affect your offer.

4. How much do utilities cost?

This becomes important if buyers are upsizing from a small two bed apartment to a four bed detached home. Simply asking to see a few heating bills may avoid any big shocks further down the line, especially if the boiler is particularly old. And don’t forget the size of the house, and even nearby trees, will have an impact on home insurance.

5. What are the neighbours like?

Most of the time the agent and seller will tell you they have had no issues with the neighbour. But if they have, don’t fear – sellers and indeed estate agents are not allowed to withhold information so will tell you exactly what the issues are.

6. What stays with the home?

Knowing exactly what is and what isn’t included in the sale sounds obvious, but knowing this whilst viewing a property will keep things fresh in your mind especially if you want to make a conditional offer with part of the contents, such as curtains, included.

7. What is the seller’s timeline?

If the seller hasn’t found a home to buy and you’re in a position to move quickly, you might find yourself stuck in a chain leaving you in an uncertain position. However, if the seller already has a place to move into and is keen to sell as fast as possible, you may be able to use this to your advantage when making an offer. In this situation, cash buyers are usually preferred as they are able to move more quickly than those requiring a mortgage.

If you are thinking about visiting one of Strutt & Parker’s properties on the next National Open House Day on 12 May, please make sure you register with your local St Albans or Harpenden office first. For more information please visit http://www.struttandparker.com/services/residential/open-house-day