It is easy to get carried away and let your emotions sweep you along when viewing a property. You may have already fallen in love with the home from looking at the online listing or brochure alone. Now, you’re here in the cold light of day and the house is just perfect!
But hold on there… Take your time to look at the house properly and take off those dream house tinted glasses. A sufficient viewing should take between 40-60 minutes. This means you will have walked around the house a number of times and looked a bit more deeply at it. Even if you spent an hour viewing the house, it is likely to be the most expensive hour you will have ever spent. So, don't rush - take it all in.
You as the viewer, have the right to ask whatever questions you feel adequate. You can look in cupboards and under the stairs, so please don't shy away from doing this. Estate Agents are legally obliged to reveal any information that could affect a viewer’s decision to purchase the property. The owners and estate agent have a duty to you to answer any relevant questions about the house or surrounding area that you may have. Therefore, it is important to prepare and think about what you are going to look at and the questions you will ask. Here are a few ideas:
Most people like the idea of a south facing garden and yes, a sunny garden is wonderful. But north facing gardens can also get the sun, it depends on the size of garden and position of the house and surrounding buildings. A better way to understand if the garden gets the sun is to ask the very question. It is useful to ask which way the house faces as this will tell you where the sun rises and how that will affect the light and temperature of certain rooms in the house. If in doubt, most phones have a compass on them these days, so utilise this tool.
Take a notepad with you on the viewing and sketch out any storage areas so you can refer to them later. Check out the cupboards and any other storage to understand exactly how much room there is.
Ask the person showing you around the home what the attic is like. Is there plenty of storage? Is there enough room to convert it to an extra room in future?
Look out for tell-tale areas of damp. Damp areas can often look worse than they are, but keep an eye out and ask the estate agent or owner what the issue is behind the damp patch. A damp smell in the air can give an underlying issue away, so if you pick up on anything - ask why does the house smell damp.
Look at the condition of the windows. Have they been well maintained? Are they double glazed? Has any of the glazing blown? Ask the person who is showing you around when the windows were last updated.
Sense check the roof. Stand back and see if there are any missing tiles or anything else that rings alarm bells. Query any flat roofs and what material is used to seal them. Asphalt and gravel, which were traditionally used, can leave unsealed edges and seams. Ask the owner if they have had any issues with the roof.
Query how old the boiler is and when the last time the central heating system was updated. Ask if there are any issues with the plumbing or water pressure? A boiler should be changed every 15 years or so, so make sure you bear the cost of this in mind when putting forward an offer.
Enquire if the house electricals have been updated recently. If they are old, the house may need a rewire. If a house has not already been rewired in the last 25-30 years, it is probably going to need updating to bring it up to current standards. In a house older than this, the original wiring could be dangerous and not able to cope with modern demands. Understanding if a rewire is likely to be required and getting a quote will help you make a suitable offer.
A house doesn’t always need to be near a river or water to flood. Blocked drains and the lie of the land can have a big impact. Find out if the house has ever been flooded or if any of the houses on the street have been. A house that has a risk of flooding will have a higher insurance premium and insurance costs are worth enquiring into before you make an offer.
Ask what the neighbours are like. What kind of neighbours are they? Families? Older couples? Are they noisy or antisocial? Also, question if there have been any boundary disputes.
The estate agent should tell you if any planning permission has been granted in the vicinity that could affect the property. However, it is always worth asking if there has been - ask the local planning department for a copy of the plans. From this, you will see if the plans bother you at all and enough to stop you proceeding.
You can gain great insight into the background of the sale from asking a few simple questions. Enquire as to why the current owners are moving. Ask how long the property has been up for sale. If it has been up for a while, ask the agent why they think that is. Question if there have been any offers, if so why did they not progress to sale? Query if the house has already had a full survey.
Whilst getting the most out of your viewings and being a savvy viewer can help prevent any surprises further down the line, it is always advisable to get a home survey done by a chartered surveyor on the house you are purchasing. There are different levels of survey available that present a buyer with different depth of detail on the house. Speak to a local surveyor about which is best for you.
Are you looking for a new home? Have you registered with Green Key? We would love to help you with your search. Call on 01522 904 904 or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.