My First Property

What To Do At A Property Viewing

A property viewing. The first time that you get to see what could be your future home. An exciting event, indeed, and possibly even a little nerve-wracking - but do you actually do any preparation before going to a property viewing? If not, then it is well worth doing some, so that you don't forget to do the essentials that you should always do at any property viewing:

- Before even going inside the house, have a quick look to see the lie of the land, literally: is the property on a slope, or is it level? If there is a slope, how steep is it, which way does it slope. Is the ground level either side, or do you overlook a neighbour or have them overlook you?

- What is your general impression of the road you are on: is it noisy, quiet, is there much traffic? Are there many houses overlooking you, or is it relatively secluded? Do all the houses around you look occupied; or are there some that are clearly empty... are many other properties for sale or to let?

- What is the access to the driveway? Are there any parking restrictions on the road? How many cars can you fit on the driveway? Is there a street light nearby? (See 'viewing a property at night' for more information on this!)

- Which way does the house face? Get out your compass if necessary to see if it is south or north facing, and thus how much light you are likely to get. Remember that many smartphones have a compass on them now, but if not don't be afraid to whip one out!

- Look at the roof and brickwork of the house from the outside: any obvious problems there such as missing or cracked tiles and so forth?

Once you are inside the house, you should be looking for any obvious signs of damage, with both your eyes and your nose: for instance a musty or mouldy smell could indicate damp, whilst ceilings that have water stains on will indicate the same. Are there any large cracks that could indicate problems? If there is a bay window, look particularly for cracks around here. Any suspiciously placed object could be hiding cracks... feel free to look behind fixtures and fittings, but obviously take care not to cause any damage in the process or be overly intrusive.

Be careful to see a room how it really is - the way a room has items positioned and mirrors can make a space seem a lot larger, or sometimes smaller, than it really is: so feel free to bring your tape measure and double-check dimensions. Notice if there are any changes of level as you walk through the house. Notice how light each room is. Also see if the temperature changes notably from one room to the next, particularly upstairs vs downstairs, and if there has been an extension in the added rooms then the heating might be colder there if the existing heating system struggles to cope with the extra rooms.

Check the radiators work - if they are on. Ask about how old the boiler is. Run the taps to check that they all work and the water pressure is OK. Can you easily control the temperature of the water; is there a thermostat to control the heating? Can you change the temperature of the radiators easily?

Also use your other sense - your ears - and listen out for noise. Planes flying overhead? Noisy neighbours? The sound of traffic? A dog barking all the time two doors down? Building work in the house behind? Think about all these things.

Take a look in the attic if there is one, and see what state it is in. Also take a look at the power points - are there enough in the house, and does the wiring all look OK to the untrained eye?

The garden: again think about whether it is level. Look at the boundary fences - are they all clear and in good condition? Is the garden overlooked? Is there a lot to maintain? Are there trees that could fall over near the house, are they under any sort of preservation order? Is there standing water that could indicate drainage problems? How light is the garden? Are there trees that block out most of the light?

There is a huge amount to think about when having a property viewing, and going through a checklist in your mind before attending - or even bringing a list with you - can help you pick up potential problems and save you from having to have several viewings each time you remember something else that you wanted to check, or leaving you exposed to simple-to-spot problems if you simply failed to think about them.

Good luck on your viewings - and don't forget to enjoy them, despite all the questions in your mind!

Last update: 05 Apr 2015

More first-time house buying articles:

  1. Dealbreakers When Buying A House
  2. Will I Be Able To Get A Mortgage
  3. Tips on Renting in London
  4. Deciding on Your Property 'Must Haves'
  5. Who needs a mortgage?


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