Guide to viewing properties
Prepare yourself for viewing properties
At first, viewing properties is the exciting part of the process of home-buying. But in a short space of time it can become monotonous, time-consuming and a bit of a bind. By using our guide to house-hunt efficiently, the process will be an enjoyable and productive one which will make finding your ideal home a reality.
Do some research before you view a property
There is often a temptation to view every property your estate agent send you details of, but that really is a waste of time as many of them would not be suitable. Study the specifications of the property thoroughly before deciding whether to view it or not and ask yourself ‘does it really suit your requirements?’
Check how long the property has been on the market – this can indicate that there may be something about the property that’s not quite as described. It could also give you a bit of leverage for making an offer below the asking price if you did indeed like the property. You also need to remember that you won’t just be living in the house, but you will also be living in the area. So, it’s a good idea to get a feel for it first.
Take a walk around the neighbourhood, speak to the locals, mention that you are considering moving into the area and ask as many relevant question as you can think of. Most people will be more than happy to tell you about the area and unlike the vendor or the estate agent, will have no incentive to embellish what they say. It’s also a good idea to go online and put the street name into a search engine to see what comes up. You can do the same with the name of the village or town.
Google earth will also give you a good view from above which will show things that might not be easily visible from the ground, such as a train line or factory close by. If you have children, research the local schools and view their Ofsted reports.
Check your route to work whether it’s by road or public transport.
All these things can have an important bearing on how suitable the property is for your needs regardless of how much you like the actual property.
Dos and don’ts
- Don’t get carried away and arrange too many viewings in one day. Viewing a lot of properties all together is very tiring.
- Don’t decide on whether you like a property before you step foot in it. If you go there thinking it’s perfect, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment and could soon become disheartened.
- Don’t rely totally on the estate agent’s description or the photographs. What you will see in the prospectus or online will be what the owners want you to see.
- Always enter a property with an open mind and try to look past the décor. The paint, wallpaper and carpets can all be changed giving a property an entirely different look and feel.
- Take your time. Buying a new home is a hugely significant investment both financially and emotionally, and the last thing you want to do is to rush into making an offer just because you’re fed up with looking around.
Read our guide to moving home
Your first viewing
Once you’re happy that a property ticks all the right boxes geographically, be sure to always arrange your first visit during the daylight hours. This way you‘ll know straight away how much natural light it gets in any particular room. You’ll also be able look out from each window, see how much you are overlooked and spot any possible problems with the property. You will also be able to clearly see the condition of the outside of the property which wouldn’t be possible after dark.
If at all possible, don’t take your children with you the first time you visit a property. You need to be focused to be able to take everything in and you may find that your children are a distraction. This could cause you to miss some tell-tale signs of problems with the property which you may regret later.
It’s a good idea to check the plumbing is suitable for your own appliances and there is enough storage space for your belongings. Take a tape measure with you plus a note of how big your largest pieces of furniture are so you can be sure that they will fit into the rooms you wish to place them. You can also use the tape measure to double check the measurements given you by the estate agents.
Give yourself plenty of time for your first viewing but, as soon as you’re sure that it’s not right for you, don’t hang around. Not only will you be wasting your time, but that of the vendor and/or estate agent too.
Don’t be afraid to ask direct and probing questions. It’s a good idea to arrive at the property with a pre-prepared list of questions that you would like to ask. These should include questions such as fixtures and fittings will be left in the property, when was the central heating boiler last serviced, do you have any disputes with the neighbours and the reason they are selling the property. Don’t let the estate agent or vendor fob you off without answering these questions. Don’t be rushed and don’t be intimidated. When asking questions you should remember that it is not a legal requirement for the seller or estate agent to tell you about any problems the property may have. It is up to you to either spot them or ask the questions to find them. Even then you may not get an honest answer.
A common trick is for the estate agent or seller to say that if you were interested in the property you should make an offer right away as another buyer is about to make one. Don’t fall for that one. Moving home is expensive and you should only do so if you are 100% happy with the property
Never make an offer on a property before you have seen it at least twice. If you are interested, arrange another appointment for a later date. It will give you time to go away and think about the property again in a different light. When you revisit for a second viewing you will be surprised how many things you didn’t spot first time round.