9 Questions Buyers Should Ask At An Open For Inspection

June 7th, 2024 - by Brad Gillespie

Open homes don’t just give you the chance to inspect a property, they also provide a valuable opportunity to quiz the real estate agent.

Here are the questions we think you should always ask at an open home.

1. Why is this house on the market and why are the vendors selling?

People sell their homes for a multitude of reasons. They may be moving on to upsize, downsize or simply want to change areas. Sometimes, people are forced to sell for less happy reasons - like separation, divorce, or needing to move into aged care. Sometimes, sadly, the property may need to be sold as part of a deceased estate.

Other people sell because they’re inspired by a great price a property nearby sold for, and have decided this is the right time to cash in.

These are all fairly typical (and reasonable) reasons for a property sale that generally won’t affect the property’s value or your enjoyment of it.

Sometimes, however, people sell for reasons that will impact you. They may, for instance, be aware a serious disruption is about to happen, such as a large redevelopment or construction project they don’t want to live next to. There may be an infrastructure project that’s about to kick off around the corner or there could be a road widening proposal. There could even be tunnelling underneath the property.

So, if you’re seriously interested in a home, always find out why the owners are selling. It’s also important to ensure your lawyer or conveyancer does adequate research into any potential disruption before you choose to buy.

2. Has the home been renovated or has other work taken place?

It’s rare to find a house without some level of renovation in the inner city and inner west. Often, that’s a really good thing.

Renovations can make a home more modern and livable, and they can also add value. But they can also be a source of potential building problems, too. There could be faulty plumbing or electrics, a leaking roof, or non-compliance with regulations.

Regardless of whether the agent tells you a vendor has done work, always make sure you have a builder (and a pest inspector) inspect the home, before you put in an offer.

3. Are there any disclosures or material facts I need to know?

Under NSW law, a vendor is required to disclose, or tell a buyer, several key things about a property. This includes a range of health and safety-related information, such as whether the property is in a bushfire zone (unlikely here in the inner city) or flood zone, if the pool is compliant with safety and fencing regulations, and if there is any loose asbestos or combustible cladding.

The vendor must also disclose any Material Facts, or things that may impact a buyer’s decision making. Examples include if a property was the scene of a crime, or was used for manufacturing drugs (scary, but uncommon).

It is against the law for a real estate agent to mislead a buyer. So ask the agent whether there is anything they’re required by law to disclose, and then weigh up whether this impacts the purchase, or how much you are willing to pay.

4. What’s the neighbourhood really like?

It always pays to ask the real estate agent what the neighbourhood is like and even who the neighbours are. We always recommend visiting the property and street or neighbourhood (at various times of the day, on different days of the week), to check out noise levels, activity and the general atmosphere. After all, if it’s going to become your new home, you want to know that it aligns with your lifestyle preferences.

5. Have any other offers been received?

Asking if any offers have been received will tell you about your competition, and if other people are interested too. It will also give you an indication on how fast you may need to act to secure the property.

If offers have been made but rejected by the sellers, you can also then ask why? This can reveal useful additional information.

Remember, not all offers are rejected because of price. Sometimes it might be that the potential buyer did not have their finance in place, or even that the vendors are set on proceeding to auction no matter what.

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

Chances are that if you’re a keen house-hunter you will have your finger on the pulse of new listings and know the answer already, but, still - asking how long a property has been on the market can tell you a lot.

Homes here in the inner city and inner west tend to sell quickly. In May 2024, the auction clearance rate for the city, inner west and inner south was well over 80%, according to Corelogic. That’s very healthy.

If a property has been sitting on the market for some time, it could mean the seller has unrealistic expectations around price. However, it pays to remember that some types of properties (especially premium ones) take longer to sell. Sometimes, a perfectly good property can sit on the market for no good reason at all.

But, if a property has been on the market for longer than normal, a vendor may be more willing to accept an offer.

7. Is the vendor open to offers?

Negotiation - whether at auction, or buying by private treaty - is part and parcel of buying a property.
While a vendor may have a fixed price in their mind, or be set in a particular price for their auction reserve, the final sale price will come down to what people are willing to pay: its market value.

Always ask the agent whether the seller will accept an offer and be prepared to make one. Just make sure it’s reasonable, and in line with current market values, if you hope to be taken seriously.

8. Do you think this property is a good investment?

Investors should have a different set of questions to ask us. If you’re thinking of buying the property as an investment, ask about long term capital growth potential and resale, as well as the weekly asking rent, vacancy rates and yields.
Also be sure to ask about current tenant demand and demographics, and any strata levies and ongoing costs. Back this up with your own research, too.

9. Do you have any similar properties for sale and can you add me to your database for off-market listings?

Asking the agent whether they have any similar properties for sale shows you’re keen, and could put you first in line for any similar new listings the agent has.

In a competitive property market, a lot of properties change hands off-market, before a public advertising campaign. Opening up access to off-market properties can give you the edge and let you see a home (and put in an offer) before other buyers have the chance to.

Agents work hard to engage their database for an off-market sale, and often choose it for unique properties. They also often employ an off-market strategy for sellers who want to test the waters before diving into a full campaign, or those who favour discretion.

Want more?

Thinking of buying your next property? Get in touch with our experienced team today.