Before you buy, ask these questions

Private Property South Africa
Carmel Woodman

Ask these questions at a show day, to ensure that you make the best home buying decision possible.

Sellers aren’t the only ones who need to prepare for a show day. It’s important that buyers attend a show day armed with the questions that will give them the information they need to make an informed property purchase decision. Buyers should ask these questions for each room of the house:


Has the kitchen been renovated at any point? If so, what kind of renovations?

If the kitchen has linoleum floors, wood paneling or wallpaper, chances are that it hasn’t had a renovation for a while. However, renovations would be a huge plus as buyers won’t have to worry about replacing anything in the kitchen for quite a while.


What’s underneath the carpets? Was the flooring recently redone?

It’s important to know whether the subflooring beneath the carpets is going to need replacing soon. Redoing a floor is a large expense and it could be a deal breaker for buyers if they need to replace the flooring soon after purchasing the home.

Have there been any infestations of termites or other pests?

If the home has experienced infestation in the past, it could experience an infestation in the future. Also, if it has been infested before, buyers need to find out where and how the damage has been fixed. Termite infestations are likely to have occurred in the skirting boards or window frames, so these are good places for buyers to check.


What are the dimensions of the bedrooms?

Buyers should make sure that they know the exact dimensions of their furniture, to make sure it will fit into the bedrooms. Things like beds, desks, dressing tables and bookcases should be measured before buyers go to a show day. Buyers should then ask about the dimensions of the bedrooms, to figure out whether their furniture will fit or whether they’d need to spend money on buying new furniture.


Have the pipes ever given any issues? Is there a knocking noise from the pipes when you shower or bath? Is there low water pressure? Is the drainage ok?

Bathrooms are a room in the house where a multitude of problems are likely to occur. So, it’s important to ask about noisy pipes, water pressure issues, drainage and hot water issues. These answers will indicate whether the pipes are stable, or coming loose and could need replacing soon, whether there are any geyser issues, whether the pipes are clear or blocked. Issues in the bathroom can be costly to fix, so it’s important for buyers to be aware of these issues before taking ownership.


How old is the roof and when last was it replaced? How old is the plumbing and wiring? What kind of roof is it?

A general guideline on roofing: asphalt shingles last 15 to 20 years; metal roofs last 20 to 40 years; wood shingle and shake roofs last 20 to 30 years, and tile and slate roofs last 50 or more years. Putting on a new roof is a big expense to it’s good for buyers to know how long they would need to go, before having to replace it.


Where does the property begin and end? Are there any extra items being sold with the home, for example a wendy house? What are the body corporate rules about pools, fencing etc?

Boundary lines are important to know, particularly if a buyer is planning on extending the house. If it’s a sectional title property, the buyer should get an idea of what their general rules are, and whether that will work with their lifestyle or not. If there is a pool, it’s worthwhile to see what kind of condition it’s in, and whether that will be an added expense to fix or not.


Are there any known problems inside or outside the house?

It’s easier to put all the home’s problems on the table immediately, for the buyer to find out what they are in store for.

What are the neighbours like?

Good neighbours can add to the security of a property. It’s also good for a buyer to know if the current owner has had a dispute with a neighbour, or if they’re on good terms.

What are the local amenities?

If buyers don’t know the area, it’s a good idea to find out from the current owners which are the best local amenities.

What do the current owners pay for rates and municipal services?

This is imperative for a buyer to know, in order to work out an estimate of what their monthly expenses would be.

How old is the property?

This will impact the likelihood of home maintenance being needed more frequently or less frequently.

Why are they selling?

If the owners need to sell quickly, the buyer may have some wiggle room with price.

Were any additions done to the house? What exactly was done? Who did it? Were the additions legal?

If any additions were done to the house, buyers need to make sure that planning permissions were acquired, and that they were done by a reputable contractor, to avoid having any issues later on.

These questions should help buyers figure out which areas of the home are problem areas, and whether the home is worth their while to buy. It’s also helpful when it comes to budgeting, as a buyer can formulate a rough estimate of the extra costs involved in the sale, as well as their monthly costs of maintaining the home and paying for utilities.

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