If only I had asked about the neighbours… If only I had asked about planning permission… Make sure you ask the right questions on a viewing. And don’t be put off from buying a desirable property just because it does not tick all the boxes. But the key to success is to do some homework first. Here are the best questions to ask on a viewing:
If you are buying a flat, how is the building managed and by whom? Who is responsible for the common parts? What are the service charges? And is there a sinking fund? It is worth knowing these things.
What are the neighbours like? They could become friends for life, so approach them positively. But there are those whom you might be more wary. Some house-hunters will knock on their potential neighbour's door after a viewing to introduce themselves and ask more about the area.
What is the property like during the day and at night? It can be helpful to visit the area at different times.
What parking is available on the street? Again it is worth asking about local resident's parking permits.
Why are the owners selling? Are the owners selling because they need more space or perhaps they are relocating to the country? Either way, to satisfy yourself that the reasoning is sound. So importantly, ask your agent why the current owners are planning to move.
How flexible is your new property? Ask yourself how long you expect to live there and how it will meet your needs in five or 10 years.
Will planning permission be approved? Are any changes you want to make to the property likely to receive planning permission? Some buyers treat future building works as a bridge they can cross when they get to it. A better strategy is to talk to your agent, ask a builder to visit the property with you and check what works have been carried out on the road already. If a similar property has a loft conversion or extension, then this is a good indication that you plans may be approved later on.
How will the neighbourhood change in the future? Is there a new school about to open? For example, Eaton Square Upper School in Mayfair will open in September 2017. Everything from new schools and improved shops can add value in the long term and justify your investment.
And finally, one question to ask yourself: can you afford the home you have set your heart on? With the current low interest rates, you should not be daunted by your new mortgage. But plan for the future, so your finances are on a sound-footing.
As every house-hunter knows, the ideal property takes time and energy to find. A good agent combined with local knowledge are invaluable. Searching for homes online will help narrow down a potential area or properties, but a physical viewing is usually the deciding factor. And if you ask the right questions, you are more likely to find your dream home sooner.
• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Regents Park and The West End (020 7262 2030; www.kayandco.com/property-search/property-for-sale-in-london) .