How to get the most out of a property viewing

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woman-and-houseBuying a property can be a daunting prospect – particularly if you’re a first-time buyer. Your home is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, yet you’ll probably only view it once or twice before deciding to buy it. So we’ve put together some viewing tips.

Of course, a survey is an essential part of any home purchase. It will help give you an expert opinion on the condition of the property, any problem areas and let you know whether it’s worth the asking price.

But before you even get to the survey stage, you’ll probably have decided to buy the property, had an offer accepted and are likely to have set your heart on it becoming your home.

Finding a new home is an emotional as well as a financial investment and it’s easy to be lead with your heart rather than your head.

When viewing a property, prospective buyers often become distracted by aesthetic features and the ambience of the property. Many people come away from a viewing having a strong feeling about a place – but not really knowing much about it.

By doing a little informed snooping and focussing on a few key areas – you can help prepare yourself for potential issues and possibly find some specific areas you’d like your surveyor to investigate. After your viewing, you might feel much more confident that you have a great deal or feel in a better position to barter the asking price down a little.

Here are a few things to remember when you go on your next viewing:

Boiler age and condition

Although probably not a deal breaker, it’s wise to take a look at the condition and age of the property’s boiler. If it’s on its last legs – it could cost you anything from around £2,000 upwards to buy a new model and have it installed. Perhaps familiarise yourself with particular boiler types so you’re aware of what kind the property uses – e.g. condensing boiler or combi.

Evidence of damp

Most people are on the look out for this when looking around a potential property purchase.  Firstly, does the house smell damp or mouldy – if it does, then it probably is. Do the walls show discolouration from damp patches or is the wallpaper starting to ripple or peel? These things may reveal a damp problem. The owners might try to conceal damp areas– so don’t be afraid to have a look behind furniture if it’s possible to do so.  It’s good to find out if the property has had any damp proofing treatments – your surveyor should be able to investigate this for you.

If the property does have damp, remember that there are treatments you can have done to combat and help rectify the problem. Just be aware that remedial work can be costly – particularly if it involves new plastering work. You may need to get a specialist damp survey carried out.

Cracking in walls

Most old houses will have some evidence of cracking. New builds may also show some signs of settlement. In most instances – thin cracks won’t be a problem and will only require a bit of filler. However, larger cracks could be a sign of a more serious, underlying structural problem like subsidence. Some structual problems can make the property difficult to insure and you could find you have very high home insurance premiums as a result. Make sure you chat through any concerns in detail with your chosen surveyor.

Communal space/shared garden

Don’t forget to check out any communal areas in the property such as hallways, staircases and shared outdoor space. If they are well maintained, it would suggest that the other inhabitants of the building/block make an effort to look after the upkeep of the property. This is obviously a good sign.

Check appliances

Have a good look at the condition of the kitchen appliances – oven, washing machine, dishwasher, fridge etc…

You may find that the current owner includes all appliances (usually called white goods) in the sale. Some appliances, however, might not be included or will be offered to you at a price. White goods can occasionally be used further down the line as ‘collateral’,  if bartering over price etc… Make sure you’ve checked out the condition of the appliances to make sure you actually want them.

Bathroom blues

They say kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Make sure the bathroom is in good nick and is not suffering from problems of damp and humidity. If there isn’t a window – there really should be an extractor fan to stop the room getting mouldy. Obviously, all these things can be rectified, just make sure you’d be happy spending the money if the bathroom does need urgently replacing. Prices will vary between companies, but even a small, basic bathroom could cost in excess of £5,000 to have fitted.

All clear on windows

It’s easy to forget about the windows in a property as they’re often hidden behind drapes and blinds. Have a look to see if the property is double glazed and how old these windows are. If a window is cloudy and appears to be ‘misted up’ between the layers of glass – it’s probably because the seal has blown.

Sufficient storage?

While looking around properties, potential buyers often romanticise the idea of living there. For example, they may focus on the outdoor space for summer months or an attractive room for entertaining friends. It can be easy to forget about the more practical needs and logistics. If you own  a lot of furniture already, will the room sizes accommodate this? Is there enough storage  for you and your family – or would the property be bursting at the seams with all your stuff?  Would you need to convert or extend the property, if so, get an estimate of how much this is likely to be.

Round the corner…

Sounds very obvious, but don’t forget to check out the area around the property. Take a walk along the road and into neighbouring streets. Particularly if you’re not familiar with the area – it’s important to see if the immediate surroundings cater for your needs. Check out local shops and transport links within walking distance. It’s also good to confirm that there isn’t an unexpected annoyance just round the corner, such as a smelly pig farm or a very noisy pub courtyard!

Policy Expert 

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.