Viewing a property: what to check and look out for

Viewing a property is the most exciting part of the process. While it can be fun, it is probably the most crucial and important stage of your home-buying journey. Selling points can easily distract from issues within a home, so it’s important to remember why you are there. I’ve put together this post to use as a guide when viewing a property. Hopefully, it will help highlight certain things that you should keep an eye out for, and prompt some questions to ask before putting in an offer.

Inside the property

From the moment you walk into the property, be sure to look up, down and around every corner. I’ve highlighted some things to be particularly conscious of as you walk around.

Light

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. In my opinion, light is the most important aspect of a new home. You should pay particular attention to it when viewing a property. Light can have a huge impact on the overall feeling in a home, so be sure to check the following:

  • Are the rooms filled with natural or artificial light?
  • How are the rooms oriented?
  • Do all the light switches work?
  • Is there adequate lighting installed in every room?

Security

When you move into a new home or neighbourhood, you want to be sure that you feel safe. So, be sure to check the following:

  • Is there an alarm? When was it serviced?
  • Do doors have locks? Are they working correctly?
  • What type of locking system is on the front door?

Windows

Windows are checked as part of the survey report, but I would recommend taking a look at the following:

  • Are the windows single, double or triple glazed?
  • Are there any gaps in the window seal?
  • Is there any sign of condensation or damp?
  • Are there any cracks?
  • Do the windows open?
  • Are there vents in every room?

Wiring

The following items are more important if you are viewing an older, second-hand property.

  • Does the property need to be rewired?
  • Does the fuse board need to be replaced?
  • Are there enough sockets? (try to imagine how you would lay out the room)
  • Is the property wired for internet and TV? Where are these cables located?
viewing a property - the attic

The Attic

If your house has an attic, then it’s important to inspect it. We only remembered to do this when we were looking at our future home for the second time.

  • Is the attic floored?
  • Does the attic have power?
  • Is there a ladder installed?
  • Can the attic be used for storage?
  • Is the attic insulated?

Appliances & Utilities

Appliances are often included in the sale of the property (which can save you a lot of money) but it’s important to check that they are in good working condition. If you forget, it will be your responsibility to dispose of them after moving in.

  • Do they operate as expected?
  • Is there any issues turning them on/off?
  • Can you see any damage?
  • Does the seller have the instruction manuals/warranty documents?
  • When were they last serviced?

Noise Levels

Depending on the area, you may be close by to busy roads or modes of transport. You also might have many houses in close proximity so it’s important to be conscious of the following:

  • Can you hear the neighbours speaking/moving around?
  • Is there noise from traffic?
  • Are you over a flight path?

Doors, Skirting boards & Architraves

Internal doors and details such as skirting and architraves are minor, but after overlooking this, we forked out a substantial amount to get them all replaced. So, I would advise checking the following:

  • Do all the doors open and close?
  • Are locks fitted on every door? If so, does the seller have all the keys?
  • Are there any gaps in the skirting boards?
  • Are the skirting boards and architraves damaged in any way?

Outside the property

Outside the house is just as important to check as inside. While everything inside the house could be perfect, there may be some key issues outside that could deter you from purchasing a property.

Light

Even though you can improve and change almost anything in a property, you cannot change how the sun moves around it. Therefore, you should factor the following into your decision:

  • What is the orientation of the house?
  • Are there any hedges or trees creating shade within the property?
  • Do the neighbours have any high trees?
  • Do any of the neighbours have extensions that create shade on the property?
  • Is the property overlooked?

boundary walls

Knowing where your property ends and your neighbours begin is extremely important for a range of reasons. So, be sure to check the following:

  • Is there a clear boundary line?
  • Does the boundary have a wall or fence to distinguish ownership?
  • Is there any damage to the boundary wall or fence?
  • Has there been any building on or beside the boundary line?
  • Are there any existing binding agreements in place with neighbours?

external structure

The external structure of the property will be checked in the survey, but it is good to pay attention to the following:

  • Is there any evidence of rising damp?
  • Is there any damage to the external walls or roof?
  • Are the external walls in good, solid condition?
  • Are there any cracks in the walls or roof?

Parking

Whether you have a car or not, this is still important and it is important to understand what parking conditions are in play.

  • Is there private parking on or nearby the property?
  • If not, where do the neighbours’ park?
  • Is there adequate public parking? Is it pay and display?

Planning in the area

Knowing what building work has been planned or completed is really important. If you know you want to extend, it’s a good idea to check any planning applications that have been granted or more importantly declined. Also, any granted applications could impact your property so it’s important to be aware of that prior to purchasing.

Top Tips

  • Take photos of everything. You’ll be surprised what you can’t remember and how many times you’ll refer back to them!
  • Ask the real estate agent anything and everything. Sometimes they won’t immediately have the answer to your question, so be sure to follow up.
  • Don’t be put off by marks on walls or interiors such as carpets/paint. These are easily fixed.
  • Staged homes might look the part, but remember that all of the nice furniture and details won’t come with the house.

Viewing a property is not an easy task, but don’t let this list ruin the fun. It was definitely my favourite part of the whole process. Viewing a number of different homes is a great way to get inspiration and figure out what you like and also dislike. 

Next up in my home series, I’ll talk through the bidding process and going sale agreed. Stay tuned!