My First Property

Questions To Ask At A Property Viewing

Recent research has suggested that people are spending less and less time on a property viewing, and now often average just thirty minutes in total before making the biggest purchase of their life. Particularly as a first-time buyer, where you won't have been through the home-buying process before, then it is important to be prepared and take your time at a viewing, and to have at least two viewings, ideally at different times of the day or on a weekday / weekend combination.

You should also think of the questions you want to ask before you go around, as when you are actually there it is easy to lose focus. For some people, particularly, it is too easy to get distracted by things that don't really matter such as how the current owner has furnished it, or the colour of the walls - remember that these things are easy to change and so should not be taking much of your attention at a viewing, as tempting as it may be.

Now, the things that you ask will partly depend on what you are looking for and the house you are going around, but there are some common things that you will want to think about asking, such as:

- Is the brickwork OK?
- Are there any tiles missing on the roof?
- Are the windows double glazed; do they need painting? Do the windows open easily, and seal well when closed? Can they be locked?
- Are the doors good and secure?
- Is there open access to the back of the property?
- Do the taps work?
- Is there hot water? If yes, how long does it take for it to get hot?
- Is there any damp, or problems with condensation?
- Does all the wiring look OK, from what you can tell?
- Are there significant cracks that could indicate all is not well?
- Is the property overlooked by other houses, so that people might be able to look in on you?
- Switch on your mobile, do you have a signal? Check in each room of the house, and also in the garden if applicable. Try calling a friend or your voicemail briefly if you are unsure if you have a signal or not.
- What fixtures and fittings are in the bathroom?
- Is the garden overlooked? Which direction does it face: use a compass if necessary. Are there large trees near the house? Are there clear and well-maintained boundaries with other properties. Are there trees or plants growing over from a neighbouring property that could potentially be a cause of problems? If you see anything requiring maintenance then you will want to find out who owns each boundary and whose responsibility it is to maintain them.
- From the upstairs bedrooms, look into the neighbours gardens if possible: do their houses look lived in and well-maintained, or is the garden a total mess? These are all things you might want to take into consideration. Also listen out for noise from neighbouring properties, or from the road outside. You may want to open the window and listen too, so you know if you open the windows in summer at night whether you will hear a constant hum of traffic noise or not.

There are sure to be lots of other questions you come up with too, this is just a starter list to get you thinking about the sorts of things that you will need to ask and find out at a property viewing. There are also some questions that you will need to ask the estate agent as it might not be possible just to find out the answers yourself.

For instance, you will want to know about the boiler: where is it, when was it serviced, how old is it. Has there been work done on the property, and if so will the documentation / any guarantees be handed over to you should you need them in future?

As you can see, there are lots of things to think about when viewing a house with a view to buying, but don't panic. Work through methodically, and come up with your list of questions in advance. If you struggle to think off the top of your head and worry you might miss off important questions, one useful tip is to walk around each room of the house or flat you currently live, whether your parents, rented or otherwise, and make a list of things you note that you think it will be important to check in any property that you view.

Last update: 05 Apr 2015

More first-time house buying articles:

  1. How to Win a Bidding War
  2. What Is A Home Report?
  3. All you need to know about mortgages
  4. Find Houses That Have Dropped In Price
  5. What are the current stamp duty rates?


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