Number 1 – First Impressions are Key
Before you have even been to the house viewing, it’s a good idea to go for a little drive past your potential new home. First impressions can be everything and a brief glance at the property can give you a gut feeling about whether you want to pursue it any further.
Walking around the surrounding area can give you a feel of the neighbourhood and if it is somewhere you can picture yourself living. Take a walk down the road and explore the local amenities. Is your house walking distance from the local pub? a small supermarket? a good school?
It’s a good idea to visit the house both in the daytime and at night, this way you can assess things like traffic, noise or parking. Buying a house is a big deal and you will most likely be living there for many years, so it is important to make sure that the area works for you.
Number 2 – Be Prepared
Once you have booked your viewing, it is important to sit down with someone and go through what you are looking for in your next home. Having someone with you will help to give you a second opinion.
Make a list of all the must-haves. Do you require a garden? Parking? Lots of storage opportunities? Large kitchen?
Think about all of the things that you would like your next home to have, maybe list them in order of their importance to you. If a property doesn’t have something, is it a deal-breaker?
Write down any questions you might have for the seller. It can be easy to get lost in the moment while you are walking around the house and subsequently forget what you wanted to ask.
If you are unsure whether you are asking all the right questions and not missing anything, Which? have kindly created a free downloadable viewing checklist. This easy-to-use guide will help to give you a foundation on which to start your property viewing experience.
Number 3 –House not a home
It might seem a bit strange to consider your future home as a house, but when it comes to a first viewing, this mentality could be very helpful.
Buying a house is very exciting and it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and start choosing your wallpaper there and then. However, the best thing to do is to take a step back, take a breath and think rationally. If you think of the property as a house and not your future home then you are more likely to be objective in your views. If you listen to your heart over your head you might find that new wallpaper covers up a severe crack or some bad mould.
However, an emotional connection to a property is also really important. And you shouldn’t let your head over rationalise any issues you may face. You need to find a balance, one that means you rationally observe the property, whilst also seeing it as a potential future home for yourself.
Number 4 – Structure and Outside
Cracks are what you are looking for. The odd hairline crack isn’t anything to be overly worried about. Big cracks are where you will start to face problems. Check around bay windows, end-of-terrace walls and especially where extensions join the main house. These are areas prone to large cracks and seeing one during your viewing may be a cause for concern. But if you aren’t sure what you are looking for and aren’t confident in your abilities, then you can always book a surveyor to come and give you a professional survey of the structure of the building.
Whilst you are considering structure, it’s always worth taking a look at the outside of the property as well; looking at the condition of the roof and the guttering – “this could be a sign of how well the people before you looked after the house. This is important as you do not want to end up paying for such things as drainage faults. Which should have been sorted before your move.” explains drainage expert Jack Harvey from 247 Drainage. Is there anything on the outside that stands out to you, both positively and negatively?
When viewing the exterior of the property you can find out if there is any parking available, what size the garden is, and whether there are any additional buildings attached to the property. If there is any uncertainty regarding who legally owns the land, then get this cleared up ASAP and have it confirmed in writing.
Number 5 – Inside / Be Thorough
This is potentially one of the biggest purchases of your life, not only that, but this is the place where you will be living for the foreseeable future. It isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, so why should you lightly look over it?
You have every right to be as nosy as you like (within reason). So absolutely look under the sink, check the cupboards out, even take a look in the loft if you want to.
This is also a good opportunity to look out for any damp issues that may be present, keep a close eye on peeling paint, water stains, condensation on the windows and obviously black mould marks. An open nose is also another key indicator for damp, as it can give off a distinctive musty smell.
Property staging can pull the wool over your eyes, making any property look as appealing as possible. The issue lies in the deception of the eyes. A visually aesthetic property very well could be a practical nightmare. So get stuck in and hands-on, check out the taps, see how good the water pressure is. Turn on the lights, see how to room feels with artificial, as well as natural lighting. You won’t know unless you try and it may also highlight issues that could be costly in the long run.
Getting stuck in is also a great way to get a sense of what it would be like to live there, so take your time and get a real feel of the property, after all, it may be yours soon…
Number 6 – Multiple Visits
There is something to be said about love at first sight, but so is there about practice makes perfect. So don’t feel rushed into a decision, or you may miss something important. Take a few repeat trips to really get to know the property. It is a good idea to schedule visits at different times of the day; to see how the light changes, how noisy it can be and how cold it can get. You might find that the quiet, well light property that you visited at 12 pm is actually dark, noisy and cold by the time 6 pm rolls by. Research by Which? has shown that 26% of people only had one viewing before purchasing, whereas 43% went twice before deciding to purchase.
Which? have created this fantastic FREE viewing checklist which is printable and super easy to use, which includes everything you need to be aware of when viewing a property.
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetime and a significant milestone. So make sure that you are 100% confident in your decision with our handy guide.