The housing market is still going strong, as house hunters turn their attention to buying this winter in Portugal.

If you’re a first-time buyer, or you haven’t had much experience viewing properties before, knowing the right questions to ask upfront could help you save some time and possibly money.

It’s important to know exactly what you will be getting when you set your sights on a new home, and to avoid any unexpected costly surprises along the way.

To give home buyers a helping hand, the mortgage experts at have listed eight questions buyers could ask when viewing a property…

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

If the property has been on the market for more than, say, four months, do not be afraid to ask the agent why they think it is not selling. There could be problems that other potential buyers may have spotted but you haven’t, so it is important that these are flagged from the get-go.

It could also be down to the property being overpriced, leading to it sitting on the market for a long time.

2. When do the sellers want to move out?

This is a really important question to ask when you are considering buying a property. If the sellers are caught in a chain, it could drag out your moving process – potentially for months. If however, they are not in a chain, this wait could go down.

3. Which way does the property face?

Having a gorgeous decking area in the garden is all well and good – until you find out there is hardly ever any sun on it. Ask the agent which way the property faces, to make sure you will be able to enjoy the maximum amount of sunlight.

4. Is the property listed?

As beautiful as listed properties tend to be, they can also be a nightmare when it comes to what changes you can make. If you come across a listed building that needs a bit of TLC, then perhaps give this one a swerve, if you are under time or cost constraints.

But if you have fallen in love with the property and the works needed are really urgent, you may want to try discussing this with the planning services department at your local council.

5. What are the neighbours like?

Moving into a property with noisy neighbours can be a living nightmare. So be upfront and ask outright what they are like. You could try to find out if the seller has ever made any complaints about their neighbours in the past.

6. What is the surrounding area like?

Asking questions such as, ‘What are the schools like?’ or, ‘Is this a safe area to be in?’, as well as, ‘How good are the transport links around here?’ can help you to determine whether this is the kind of area you see yourself living in for many years.

Even if you are not planning on having children any time soon, having a good school nearby can potentially increase the value of a property.

7. How much does it cost to run the property?

Finding out council tax bands, utility costs and the general running costs of the property will help you budget properly and let you know whether the home is financially viable for you. Bills and taxes can take a massive chunk of your pay cheque each month, so it is vital to have an idea of how much money you are likely to end up regularly paying.

8. Would the owners consider a lower offer?

Some buyers may consider offering a low-ball price in the first instance, particularly if the estate agent knows the buyers need to sell fast. However, the estate agent may give you the heads-up that the sellers are only accepting offers over a particular price.

If you are considering making a low offer, bear in mind that if you go very low, this may be deemed too cheeky and the seller may think you are not a serious buyer. This could lead to the seller disregarding you completely. So remember to be brave, but also be fair.