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Nine questions to ask an estate agent before you offer on a home

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Buying a property is often the biggest financial commitment in a person’s life and yet many homebuyers will spend longer test driving a new car or buying a TV.

According to new research, Britons are snapping up homes often after just one viewing and sometimes after spending 30 minutes or less in a property.

Roughly two in five home hunters who purchased a property in the last six months, did so after just one viewing, according to research by virtual property viewings platform, U-See Homes.

With house prices surging, reports of buyers queuing for viewings and bidding wars home hunters will be feeling under pressure

With house prices surging, reports of buyers queuing for viewings and bidding wars home hunters will be feeling under pressure

A further 43 per cent required two viewings before deciding it was the right home for them, with just 12 per cent of homebuyers returning for a third viewing.

Of those surveyed, more than half claim they took 30 minutes or less when viewing a property, with 41 per cent claiming they needed no longer than an hour.

‘We know that homes are going under offer incredibly quickly in current market conditions, and we’re now starting to see a shortage of stock entering the market to satisfy the overwhelming buyer demand spurred by the stamp duty holiday,’ said Simon Dempsey, head of marketing at U-See Homes.

‘Homebuyers themselves are also acting at pace, with the vast majority taking just one or two viewings before making an offer and rarely spending more than an hour or two in the process.’

But home hunters are not necessarily buying the first thing they see, with less than one in five purchasing the first property they viewed.

When it comes to finding the right one, two in five home buyers claim they viewed five or more other properties before they found the one.

‘The majority are viewing a number of properties before they discover their perfect home and while viewing times are brief, they can certainly start to add up when travelling from one house to the next,’ added Dempsey.

How can buyers make every viewing count?

The property market is going through somewhat of a boom, with reports of people queuing for viewings, bidding wars and the biggest sales pipeline ever seen. 

Buyers will therefore be feeling under added pressure to decide quickly – making every minute of a viewing that bit more important.

But despite this, buyers can often be guilty of failing to ask important questions during viewings.

Some refrain from asking certain questions because they don’t want to show their hand and scupper future negotiations, whilst others are so excited that they forget to ask anything at all.

There is no such things as a stupid question: Asking the estate agent questions can help you understand more about the seller's mindset and whether they might be flexible on price

There is no such things as a stupid question: Asking the estate agent questions can help you understand more about the seller’s mindset and whether they might be flexible on price

But asking the right questions on a viewing can be crucial in helping to determine the seller’s motivation, whether you face competition for the property, and whether there might be wiggle room in the price.

Most viewings take place in the company of an estate agent, who it must be remembered works on behalf of the seller. It’s their job to encourage you to make an offer on their client’s property.

‘Ask direct questions that are difficult to duck, and confirm anything you are told in an email so there is a record of what you believe you were told,’ says Henry Pryor, a professional buying agent. 

‘Never be afraid to ask anything that matters to you – you’ll be amazed what answers you will get.’

What questions should you ask?

1) When did it come to market?

Property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla often reveal this, but if the property has been re-listed it may be difficult to tell.

‘You should want to find out how long it has sat around not selling,’ says Pryor.

‘Some websites include a listing date, but agents are cunning and sometimes juggle this by taking the property off the market and putting it back on.

‘You want to know if it’s in the first flush of youth or an old dog that has been passed over with a seller who is looking to take a dive on the price to move on.’

2) Why are they selling?

Buyers should try to establish what has brought about the sale, according to Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of the buying agency Garrington Property Finders.

‘Is it being sold because of a divorce and are the people desperate to move on?

‘Is the vendor selling up because they have accepted another job elsewhere? Are they in a hurry to get kids into a new school for the new term?

‘Information like this can give the buyer quite a degree of power as it might help indicate how flexible the seller might be on price and importantly, how committed they are to the selling process.’

3) Has the seller found somewhere to go?

If a seller has not found a property to move to, a buyer may not want to sit around waiting for them.

This might become an issue, if the buyer is under time pressure on their own property sale, or if they are moving home for work purposes.

‘Find out what the seller is looking for and what the chances are of them finding something,’ says Pryor.

‘If you offer them a delayed completion, would they then be prepared to exchange contracts?

‘At least, that way, you know you have the property.’

4) Has there been a previous survey?

Being able to look at a prior survey could save you both time and money. 

The price of a building survey typically ranges from £500 to £2000 depending on the size of the home, according to the Homeowners Alliance.

Henry Pryor’s six ‘easy to forget’ questions to ask during a viewing:

1. Has anyone had a survey of the property?

2. Is there anything that a building survey will throw up that you want to tell me about before I commission one?

3. What would you client sell with the property? White goods, carpets, curtains, Labrador?

4. Can you show me the internet speed now using an app like SpeedTest?

5. Have there been any issues with noise or neighbours?

6. Has the property ever flooded? 

‘Press the estate agent over whether there have been any previous surveys of the property,’ says Hopper.

‘Consumer protection regulations mean the agent and the seller are legally obliged to provide you with information which could have a material impact on your purchase.

‘This also serves to avoid mid-transaction surprises later on, when you get your own survey done and have spent significant sums of money.’

5) Have you had any offers?

Other viewings taking place at the property is one sign of interest, but offers are the real test when it comes to revealing competition.

A buyer’s greatest fear is often whether an estate agent might be fibbing about other offers. 

Further questioning can help a buyer determine whether such offers are to be believed or taken seriously.

‘Their answer will tell you if anyone else fancies it,’ says Pryor. ‘If no one has offered, then why not? And if there have been offers, why weren’t they accepted?

‘Agents will often say Oh we had an asking price offer, but it wasn’t accepted” and when you probe, it turns out it was because the buyer has a house to sell or needed a winning lottery ticket!’

6) Is the asking price yours or the seller’s?

‘Find out who set the price,’ says Pryor. ‘Was it the agent; keen to get instructed, or the seller, high on news of rampant house prices?’

‘If it was the seller then maybe the agent will be helpful and admit what they advised.’

7) Will the seller take the property off the market if I make a good offer?

Here you are testing whether the seller is willing to take the property off the market for the right offer, or whether they are hell-bent on having multiple viewings before accepting anything.

‘If they are prepared to take it off the market then it pays to put your best foot forward,’ says Hopper.

‘If on the other hand, they have a desire to do dozens of viewings, then it pays to keep your powder dry.

‘You don’t want to end up being used as a stalking horse to whip up competition.’

8) What would they accept to take it off the market today?

Sometimes, it’s best to put the ball back in the seller’s court and see how they respond.

‘If there is competition for the property, the sellers may not be willing to accept any offer on a given day – all you’ll be doing is setting a bar for other buyers to jump over,’ says Pryor.

‘But if they will do a deal – perhaps so they can make an offer on a property they wish to buy – then find out what that number is they require.’

9) Are there factors apart from price that are important to the seller?

There is a tendency to think that everything rests on price, but this isn’t necessarily always the case, according to Hopper.

‘Don’t ask the estate agent “What do I need to bid to be in with a shout?”‘ says Hopper.

‘Try asking “What is your seller looking for from a buyer and what aspects of an offer will be most important to them?”‘

‘It’s definitely not just about money, it’s about the dependability of the buyer and, right now, flexibility on move dates also ranks highly.

‘Sellers are nervous about getting pushed out of their home into rented accommodation by a demanding buyer and many of them need time to find somewhere suitable to move on to.

‘I have seen countless situations where the highest bid hasn’t carried the day.’

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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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