Important questions buyers should ask

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

18 questions to ask your estate agent that will save you a great deal of heartache and money in the long run.

Knowledge is power and asking your estate agent the right questions could save you a great deal of money and heartache in the long run.

However, it's not always easy to know what questions to ask. Buyers may not want to appear stupid by asking ‘obvious’ questions, but it's absolutely vital to remember that no question should be regarded as stupid when it comes to buying property.

Steve Kay from Home Inspection says that asking an estate agent pertinent questions will give the buyer a great deal of insight into the property.

Questions that should be asked as a matter of course include:

  1. Why is the owner selling?

  2. Exactly what is included in the sale? Don't assume that the exquisite chandelier will be staying - insist that everything being removed is documented in the sales agreement.

  3. How long has the property been on the market? Overpriced homes tend to stay on the market far longer than do realistically priced homes.

  4. How long have the present owners lived there?

  5. Has the property repeatedly changed ownership over a relatively short period of time? This is a particularly important question and there are usually very good reasons why a property will change hands more frequently than the norm.

  6. How did the agent decide on the asking price? Buyers should ask for the comparative market analysis to see how the agent and seller determined the price.

  7. What is the minimum price the seller will accept? Buyers should never assume that every seller is open to offers. Finding out how much the seller will be willing to accept to part with his property will save both the buyer and seller a great deal of time and could obviate third parties intervening with their own offers while your negotiations are underway.

  8. What offers have there been so far?

  9. When do the sellers have to move out? Again, this is tremendously important and should be documented along with a stipulated sum of occupational rent if the buyer is planning to move in before transfer takes place.

  10. Has any major work been done to the property?

  11. If the answer is yes and the work has been completed, have the plans been updated?

  12. Are plans available for the property? It is highly recommended that buyers insist on a clause in the sales agreement in which the seller warrants that municipal plans are in order.

  13. How old is the property?

  14. Have any of the rooms been refurbished recently and if so, why?

  15. Can you move the furniture to look underneath?

  16. Do they have noisy neighbours?

  17. Is there traffic/aircraft noise at certain times of the day?

  18. Will the sellers agree to a home inspection? If not, why? A home inspection is not mandatory at this stage, but it is always wise to hire a home inspector before signing a sales agreement. Sellers who object could be doing so because they are aware of major flaws in the home. They will also be aware that if the flaw is serious, it could affect the asking price.

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