Viewing a property: The ultimate checklist
Okay, so you have made a shortlist of properties that you like, and you’ve done your research. But when you’re in the actual property, remember to consider the following things:
Viewing a property: The existing condition
- Is there damp? Check for obvious signs of damp as well as wrinkly ripples in the wallpaper.
- Is the building structurally sound? You want to look for cracks on the outside, and check the brickwork and any signs of the chimney leaning.
- Look up! Do the gutters and downpipes look old or show any signs of leakage?
- How old is the roof? It goes without saying that you want a good roof over your head, not only to keep the weather out but also to keep the energy in! We recently read that if the roof is old enough to drink, then it’s nearing the end of its life expectancy.
- Open and close the windows and doors. (They might think you’re crazy but do it anyway.) You want to make sure there’s no cracking paint on the window frames and that the double glazing is intact. Run your fingers down the window to check for condensation. (Yes, they’ll think you’re truly batty by this point!) You also want to find out what’s behind any locked doors (oooh… er).
- Check your phone while you’re there. How’s the signal?
- Are there enough power points, and what condition are they in? Ask when it was last rewired.
- Is the plumbing up to scratch? Remember to turn on the taps and check the water pressure.
- Is the property adequately soundproofed? Sound nuisance is difficult to live with, so trust us: Don’t overlook this one!
- Has it got a working fireplace? Fireplaces are such a lovely feature, but you want to check that they actually work! Ask when they were last serviced or the chimneys swept.
- Check for the proper gas installation reports. Before you move in, make sure you get a copy of the annual Gas Safety Certificate, which shows that all gas appliances have been serviced by an engineer listed on the Gas Safe Register.
- Check the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC) here.
Viewing a property: The particulars
- Is there evidence of staging? The clue is in the smell of freshly baked bread! But jokes aside, remember to look beyond the furniture and stylised interiors: It’s the bones of the property you’re buying, not the lifestyle.
- What is it like at different times of the day? Try to make a couple of viewing appointments.
- What does the house look like without any lights on? Usually an agent will whack on every light in the property, but make sure to turn them all off and experience the house as you would on a normal day.
- What noises can you hear? If there’s any music playing, make sure that’s also turned off so you can check for loud street traffic, noisy neighbours or the rumble of trains in the background.
- Which way does the property face? South-facing gardens will get more sun.
- Any expensive updates? Look out for things that would be costly to change, such as replacing a large amount of paving.
- Has it got a mature garden? Opting for a property with a garden that doesn’t need a complete overhaul will save you money, as landscaping and planting can be expensive.
- What are the neighbours like? It’s always worth having a conversation with them. You’ll get good insight into the neighbourhood and a general vibe from these chats.
- Any easy wins? Look out for opportunities to make an easy change, such as opening up small, individual living spaces to create a larger living or kitchen/ dining space.
- Do any properties overlook the house? As much as you want to be on good terms with your neighbours, your privacy – and your enjoyment of a space – could be compromised.
Our 10 top tips to buying a house
Buying a house is potentially the biggest financial commitment you will ever make, so take the time to prep with our tips!
Viewing a property: The practicalities
- Is there much storage space?
- Are the rooms big enough for your needs? Usually you can tell when you walk into a home, if the space feels right and works for you. The number of bedrooms and communal and outdoor spaces are all easy things to tick off, but Lorna from Bonnington Square recommends going a step further:
“Try and look past that and think about the internal flow of the space, and if it would work for you on a daily basis. Picture a day in the life of you – think about waking up, starting the day, where do you go? Where do you have breakfast? How do you spend the day, where do you put your shopping when you come back in? How do you make dinner, and does that space fit with your family life? If the space actually makes those daily activities awkward or in any way difficult, it’s best to look for something else!”
- What’s the attic space like? Locate the loft hatch and make sure you stick your head up there to have a look! It might be that the loft space could be turned into extra bedroom space or a home office.
- How green is it? There might be many trees lining the street, but are there signs of structural damage nearby? How big are the trees? They can steal a lot of light and be expensive to remove.
Viewing a property: The quick-fire round:
- How long has it been on the market?
- How many viewings has it had?
- How many offers has it had?
- How long is the lease (if it has one)?
- Have there been any neighbour disputes?
- What renovations have been done?
- Why are the vendors moving, and are they sure they want to sell now?
- Where are the vendors moving, and is there a chain?
- How much are the service charges and ground rent (if a flat)? (Read more on charges.)
Finally, make sure you get some alone time in the space without the agent! Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to live there.
Phew! It sounds like a lot, right? But when all is said and done, your hard work is going to pay off. And remember, it’s always worth listening to your gut.
Our HomeNotes Journal is here to bring you clear and up-to-date information for homeowners renovating their homes. For more in-depth help we provide online courses to help you get started the right way!