What to look for on a viewing

What to look for

Whether you are starting your first property search or you have lost count of the properties you’ve searched through, it’s always key to remember what to look for on a viewing. This in turn should make the process run more smoothly, and keep you focussed on finding that perfect home.

1. What’s the area like?

  • Are you near a pub or bar or kebab shop that becomes rowdy in the evening?
  • Can you walk to shops to get a pint of milk, or do you have to drive? All of our property pages can help you visualise the distance between one of our properties and local amenities.
  • Is it easy to get to public transport?
  • Are there noisy roads or train tracks nearby?
  • Are you underneath a flight path?
  • Is there a local dump in smelling distance?
  • Are you near a school that makes it impossible to get out of your drive at school run time? You can find the schools in area here.
  • And most importantly, does it feel like you could make it your home?

2. Are the rooms large enough for your requirements?

Assuming you won’t be buying all new furniture as soon as you move in, will your existing furniture fit? For example: Corner sofas, larger size beds, American Fridge Freezers, table and chairs.

3. If you have children or pets

If there is a garden, is it secure from the road, do the side gates lock and are they tall enough, which room do you access the garden from, is it practical?

4. Which way does the house face?

Between Winter and Summer there will be a significant difference to light in the garden and the house it can make the difference between a home that is full of light and warmth, and one that is frustratingly dark. Your favourite plants might notice too, and protest by dying. Orientation is a key element to look for on a viewing – pretty much every mobile has a compass.

5. Is the building structurally sound?

Big cracks are what you are looking for – but you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. You’re looking for issues now that you can ask the homeowner or estate agent about and then ask your surveyor to investigate later. But you can only look for what you know; a chartered surveyor with years of experience is trained to spot risks and know what needs attention. Even if you are buying a property cash, it is always advisable to have a survey carried out even if it just for peace of mind.

6. How old is the roof?

Replacing a roof can be an expensive business, and newer roofs have a life expectancy of only 15-20 years, depending on the materials also, if the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, it is a good idea to check these too (your surveyor will also comment in their report). Nowadays a membrane is used and is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed.

7. What is the loft like?

People often miss the loft space, but it is an important part of the house to look at on a viewing. How easy is it to access? Is there much storage space? Could it be converted into extra rooms? Is there insulation? The latter can make a huge difference to your bills and general comfort in winter.

8. Are there enough power points?

Having enough plug points in this day and age can be problem, especially with family members having all manner of electrical appliances needing power at the same time, so it is worth reminding yourself to look for power points on a viewing. Older wiring can be dangerous, and rewiring your new home can be costly. Checking the consumer unit (fuse board) is often a good indicator of the state and age of the wiring, for example if there are individual fuses or Trip switches, some buyers have separate electrical tests carried out so they know what to expect.

9. How is the plumbing?

Run the taps to check the water pressure, does it run well on its own or is there a pump powering the flow? Are the pipes are insulated, are they modern plastic or copper or lead (which would have to be replaced). Do all the radiators work? How old is the boiler? – again more commonly these days your solicitors will ask when the boiler was last serviced and sometimes recommend a service inspection before you purchase. If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is probably an old one, and may have to be replaced soon, if this is the case, perhaps also consider putting in a Combination boiler.

10. How much storage space is there?

Storage space is a valuable and often overlooked factor. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen, and usual collection of boxes with general stuff in? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Especially in newly built houses, storage space can be scarce.

If you do like a property, arrange another viewing for a different day and time, Saturdays are a good indicator as more people are in their homes over the weekend, so you can gauge road congestion, parking etc, scout out the local area a bit more. If you can, take somebody else with you who might see things you haven’t.

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