11 questions to ask an estate agent when buying a property

 Choosing a new home is a huge decision, so you need all the information to help you make the right one. Here are 11 essential questions to ask an agent before buying a house.

1. How long has the property been on the market?

Understanding how long a property has been for sale can give you some helpful insights. If the property has been on the market for several months, it’s important to try and understand why. 

Ask the agent if there has been much interest in the property or any offers. If the answer is no, the current price might be too high. If the answer is yes, but it still hasn’t sold, it could mean an issue with the property has put other buyers off.

If the property is fresh, find out if many other buyers are interested. This will help you understand your level of competition and how likely you could get a good deal or if you’ll need to offer over the asking price to get the property.

2. Has the price been reduced?

If the property has been on the market for a while, ask if the price has been reduced, and if so, by how much. 

This could indicate how likely the sellers are to negotiate on price; if they’ve lowered the price once, they may be willing to do so again. 

If the property has been on the market for several months and they haven’t reduced the price yet, it could be an opportunity to make a lower offer.

3. Why are they selling?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. It can help you understand how urgent the sale is or if something is wrong with the house.

If you find out they’re moving because of an issue with the property, it’s good to know this as soon as possible. It might put you off, or it could be something you could live with and help you negotiate a better price.

If you know the sellers are in a hurry to move, for a new job, or to get into a school catchment area, this could help you get a better deal, too. They could be open to a lower offer if it means a quick sale.

4. How long have the sellers lived in the property?

This is another really important question to ask. Have they been there a matter of months or for several decades?

If you find out the property has had several owners in the last few years, this could be a red flag. Try asking the agent if they know why the property has changed hands so often. Something about the house or area could discourage people from living there long-term.

On the other hand, if the property has had the same owner for a long time, this can be evidence that it’s been a happy home. However, it might be worth checking the survey carefully in case things like roofing or wiring have been neglected.

5. What’s the lowest offer the sellers will accept?

It might be unlikely to get an honest answer to this question, but it’s worth asking. Remember, the agent wants to sell the property, and if they know the seller is willing to negotiate on the price, they may tell you or drop a hint. 

6. Is there a chain, and how long is it?

The chain is the link of property purchases that are connected to your purchase. 

For example, if you’re a first-time buyer, you’re at the start of the chain, but you may need to wait for your seller to complete their purchase before moving in. 

The longer the chain, the longer it can take for your purchase to complete. Try to find out at what stage the sellers are in their property search. If they have had an offer accepted on a house, this could indicate fewer hold-ups.

However, if they’re still looking for somewhere new, you could wait a long time. This shouldn’t put you off a property if it’s right for you, but knowing if you’re in a hurry to buy a new home is helpful.

7. Has any renovation work been done?

Renovations are usually a positive sign that the property has been improved recently, and it could mean less work for you to do in the future. 

However, if work has been done in the last few years, try to find out what it was and why. If it was to fix structural issues, it’s worth knowing if something could come back. 

Also, try to get the details of the builders who carried out the work and any paperwork they have, including relevant permissions. 

8. What’s included in the sale?

Quite often, sellers leave behind anything they don’t need in their new home. If you buy the property, it’s worth asking if anything else is included.

Things like white goods or garden furniture are commonly included, which can be very useful if you need those things or an inconvenience if you don’t. If things are being left you don’t need; it could help your cause to offer to take them off their hands. 

Don’t take things like light fittings and curtain rails for granted; the seller may take everything with them. If there is any fitting you specifically want to keep, there is no harm in asking. 

9. How much are the bills?

Understanding what your monthly outgoings are going to be like is essential. Ask the agent what tax band the property is in so you can find out what your council tax bill is likely to be.

Any property on the market must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which can give you an idea of how energy efficient it is. It can also help you work out what the running costs of the gas and electricity could be. 

Also, ask about broadband connection in the area. For example, a good internet connection could make or break working from home.

10. What are the neighbours like?

Knowing you'll get on with your neighbours is important if you plan on living somewhere for a long time. Try to find out who is living next door and what the demographic of the street is like. Is it young families, retired couples, students, or a mixture?

Ask if the current owners have had any issues with their neighbours. Your solicitors should pick up any official disputes, but finding out directly from the sellers could be more informative.

If you’re serious about the property, you could try knocking on their door and introducing yourself. As well as getting an idea of what they’re like, they might have some insights on the property you’re buying that could be useful. 

11. How old is the boiler?

Find out what type of boiler the property has and when it was last serviced. Ideally, the property will have a modern combi-boiler serviced in the past year.

You must find out how old it is if it has an older conventional boiler or a system boiler. These boilers tend to be less efficient and, therefore, more costly to run and take up more space as they require large water tanks. 

Boilers can cost thousands of pounds to replace, so having a modern, efficient boiler in place could save you in the long run.

Our expert says…

“Don’t be afraid to ask your estate agent anything about a property; it’s their job to help you make an offer. Even if you don’t think you’ll get an answer, it’s worth asking anyway - there’s only one way to find out.

Buying a new home is a huge decision, and it’s vital you have all the information you need to make a confident choice.”

Jonathan Bone - Mortgage Lead


If you’re starting your search, here are a few questions you can ask an estate agent:

  • Can you help me choose the right area?

  • Are your listings up to date?

  • Can you contact me when a new listing meets my criteria?

  • Can I do online viewings?

  • What is the market like in this area?

When selling your home, you must decide which estate agent to use. They will list your property, arrange viewings and communicate with new buyers on your behalf. Here are some questions to ask to help you choose the right agent:

  • How much do you charge?

  • When and how do I pay the estate agent fee?

  • How much will you market my home for?

  • How quickly do you think my house will sell?

  • How have similar properties sold in this area?

  • What can I do to help my property sell?

It would be best to view as many properties as you need to find the right one. You might only need to see a couple to be confident to make an offer, or it could take 10 or 15 viewings to find your perfect new home.

However, if you do fall in love with the first house you see, try to view at least another two or three for comparison — book as many viewings as possible on the same day to help you compare them.

Viewing a property you like at least twice before putting an offer in is a good idea.

It’s easy to fall in love with a house on the first viewing, but a second viewing can help you see it more rationally and pick up on things you may have missed the first time.

Try to take different people with you to subsequent viewings to get as many perspectives and opinions as possible. 

When you are ready to make an offer on a property, do it through the estate agent and not the seller. You should call them to make your offer and follow it up with an email to ensure nothing was misinterpreted on the phone.

The agent will then relay the offer to the sellers, who will accept or reject it or ask for some time to consider it. It’s common to wait a day or so before getting an answer.

When making your bid, highlighting any advantages you might have over other buyers, like being a cash buyer or first-time buyer, is a good idea.