Mar 02, 2020 / PROPERTY / BUYING

The 10 questions to ask your estate agent

Our top ten questions buyers need to ask their estate agent.

Your estate agent is a key part of the house-hunt process and a good one will be a goldmine of information about the local market and properties – so make sure you get the most out of them. Here are our top questions to ask your agent when looking at properties.

Is the property available to foreign buyers?

Be sure on your first enquiry that the property is open for foreign buyers – this will usually be the case, but there are some restrictions. For example, non-Swiss residents can’t buy outside of a tourist area.

Does the property have a clean title?

Again, for the majority of Alpine properties built in countries with a long history of strict regulation, this is likely not to be an issue. While your lawyer or the notary will make detailed searches on the property, it’s good to confirm that it doesn’t have any encumbrances, like unpaid tax, or if there are any third-party covenants.

How is the property currently owned?

Find out from your estate agent whether it’s owned by an individual or company or joint owners – in the last case, the sale would have to be approved by all titleholders.

What is included?

It’s good to confirm from the start what would be included in the sale – for example, fittings and white goods that you assume would stay might not, especially in some central European countries. You may well be able to negotiate to include further items in the price, however, so don’t take it as completely fixed.

Do all appliances work?

Check with the agent that safety certificates are all up to date and verify yourself that all appliances work. Try the water in each sink and bath/shower to check the pressure and flow, especially if you’re in an apartment, and find out the age of the heating and water systems.

How is the local market?

Make use of your estate agent’s local market knowledge and knowledge of how long the property has been on the market to find out how fair the price is. You may be able to negotiate a discount if it has been on the market for a while. Likewise, however, if it seems that the seller is not willing to go down, or that the property is fairly valued for the market, then you might be better advised to go in closer to the asking price.

Three-bedroom apartment in Villars-sur-Ollon.

Has the seller received any offers?

Not all agents will disclose much information about this, but it’s always worth asking. If you know that offers have been made at a particular level and rejected, you can get an idea about what price range the seller might accept. Likewise, if it’s been a long time without an offer, there might be room for negotiation.

What is the rental potential?

If you are thinking of renting out your property, find out what the rental potential could be; if you agent has a lettings department, they should have a good knowledge of what you could expect as a return.

Are there any building or management fees?

If you’re buying an apartment or condo, you will likely have an annual maintenance fee to factor in, as well as potential other sinking costs.

Five-bedroom house in Baqueira.

Are there any planned developments nearby?

This is another area you can go into more detail once you’ve offered, but it’s good to pick your estate agent’s brains from the off on whether there are any developments coming up nearby. Remember, this isn’t necessarily a negative – you may find that it could lead to price increases in the long term.

Researching the buying process

Your agent will guide you through the process of purchasing a ski home, but it’s always good to be prepared and know what to expect, whether that’s the legalities, the fees to pay or how long it takes until completion. Find out the answers to these questions and more in your free Buying Guides.