27 Jul 2023
The process of finding a home that aligns with your wants, needs and budget can be unpredictable. You could find a suitable property on your first viewing or spend weeks trawling listings and attending open houses before you strike gold. This unpredictability can make your search feel more urgent than it is. When you feel like the property, you're viewing is the last suitable one you're going to see for a while, you could feel pressured to put in an offer before someone else snaps it up.
While the idea of securing a home as soon as possible can be a tempting one, you don't want to rush into making a decision you'll have to live with for the foreseeable future. Here are eight questions you should ask a seller before making an offer on their house.
Most homes have had at least one previous owner. Knowing when a house was built as well as when and why it was sold by previous owners can give you insight into its condition or anything notable about it. A property's history can also give you information on its construction and renovation record and how these changes have impacted on its value or safety. For example, you may find a previous owner used an unlicensed contractor to rewire the kitchen, possibly rendering it unsafe and requiring it to be rewired by an authorised electrician.
A seller's reasons for putting their home on the market can give you insight into the property or bring light factors that might influence your decision. For example, someone relocating to another region may be open to accepting a discounted offer so they can finalise their move quickly. Another homeowner selling an older property may be doing so because it requires costly ongoing maintenance and upkeep that you may not be interested in continuing with. A sectional title home in a complex could be governed by a body corporate, limiting how you could renovate it should you want to buy it and add to it.
A property's neighbourhood and its neighbours can make or break your home ownership experience. It will inform what facilities are close to you and your access to transport routes and public transport. Your neighbourhood can also inform what school catchment area your children will fall into. Some neighbourhoods can attract certain demographics of people. For example, a neighbourhood close to universities can attract students who live social and energetic lifestyles. This may be unsuitable for you if you're looking for a more family oriented, quiet neighbourhood.
Whether you're viewing a sectional title or freestanding property, you'll pay certain monthly fees. Familarising yourself with them will give you a clearer picture of the property's affordability over and above what you'd pay to finance the property. You may want to install a new telephone or internet connection if the property isn't adequately equipped. You'll need to pay rates and taxes based on the property's value, with sectional title home owners paying a similar fee towards shared property maintenance. Some properties require homeowners to pay towards an area security guard or boom operator.
The state of the property market can inform the time you have to make an offer and how much leeway you have when making an offer on the property. A buyer's market will mean you could face less competition, which means the buyer may be more inclined to accept your offer — even if it isn't above their asking price. You can get an idea of a suitable asking price by looking at what comparable properties in the area have sold for over the past six months. The owner of a property that's been on the market for some time may also be open to a lower offer.
A homeowner may have made additions or alterations on their property that they plan on taking with them when they move. If the owner of a property you're considering wants to emigrate or move on short notice, they may want to sell their home complete with its fixtures, furnishings, appliances and decorations. If a fixture can easily be removed, you should clarify if it's included in the property sale. Easy to remove and costly additions like above ground hot tubs, freestanding plant fixtures or gazebos may leave the property with the seller before you move in.
When considering how safe a home is, you should find out the area's crime rate and how many incidences of crime have taken place on the actual property. You should also investigate if crime has increased over time and if the homeowners have put in place measures to keep the property secure. Environmental factors can also compromise a property's safety, rendering an otherwise secure home vulnerable to nature and other unpredictable events. For example, you'll want to know if a property lies in an area prone to flooding in rainy seasons.
People can become attached to homes and develop fond memories of time spent in it. Even though they're ready to move on, sellers may need reassurance that their home will be in good hands with its new owners. Asking them what they love about the property can help you highlight your suitability for the property. For example, a couple could be selling their home as their kids have grown up and moved out. If you are interested in the property, communicating to them that you're looking for a home to raise a family in can assure them that you'll keep the home's family friendly features intact.
Buying a property and making an offer on it is exciting — but it's also something you don't want to regret. Asking the above questions and working with home loan specialists can make the process smoother and more pleasant for everyone involved. SA Home Loans can advise you on all aspects of property purchasing so contact our team on 0860 2 4 6 8 10 get started.