Looking to buy the dream home of your dreams? People often type “buy a house near me” into a search engine to find the right house, but there’s much more to it than that. Visiting those properties is essential.
Studies have shown that most people visit at least five properties before selecting one that meets their needs, so you should be ready to explore lots of options as you search for the perfect home.
What should you look for in each house visit? What questions should you ask? How can you make sure you’re paying attention to what matters? House shoppers, take note! This quick guide can help you create a buying-a-house checklist that UK shoppers will be envious of!
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When it comes to viewing a house, one of the first things to consider is its location. You can make lots of changes to the home once you buy it, both inside and out, but you can’t change its location. As you approach the house or flat, get a feel for the neighbourhood.
Are there parks and green spaces nearby? How close are the transport links, especially if you’ll be commuting to work? Are there good restaurants and shops nearby?
And is there a nice pub close by? It may be wise to check the crime rates in the area too. It might be useful to visit the place a couple of times to get a better idea of the neighbours and any potential issues that may make you not want to live there.
The Outside of a Home
When viewing a house, there are a few important questions to ask and factors to consider. Start by looking at the direction the property faces. In the winter, it may not be a big deal, but in the summer, it can make a huge difference.
You’ll want some rooms to be bright and sunny, while others should remain cool and dark. If you can, bring a compass or use a compass app on your phone to get the most sunlight in the home.
Examine the windows, cladding, and roof of the property carefully. Look out for cracking paint, which may be a sign that condensation forms there regularly. You can also lightly press on the window frames to check if they are rotten.
Make sure you ask when the roof was installed since roofs usually last between 15-20 years, depending on the material used.
The garden is a great addition to the property and can have a big impact on resale value – but only if it is well taken care of.
Consider the size of the garden and how much maintenance it will take. You’ll likely want a south-facing garden, giving you the perfect amount of sun in the late afternoon.
Check the property’s drainage as well. Research if it has flooded in the past during heavy rains. Look for drains and see if they block easily. Wet spots around the outside of the house may indicate drainage issues.
Don’t forget to think about things like parking when house viewing. If there is no garage, is the parking easily accessible? Does it look to be quite busy?
This can be of particular concern if you’re purchasing a flat. You want to make certain that parking won’t be an issue for you after your purchase.
The last consideration you’ll want to make is the security level of the property. If the front is easily noticed, your home or flat is more likely to be secure.
You’ll also want to check to see if there’s an intruder alarm to help maintain safety. If you’re purchasing a flat, ask about CCTV cameras or other security precautions, especially in common areas.
Inside the Home
Once you enter, there is still more to add to your house viewing checklist when viewing UK houses. Consider one of the major concerns when buying a property today—dampness.
You can identify the potential for this problem if you smell a musty odour. You may also see mould on the walls or discoloured patches.
Peeling wallpaper or blistering paint may also indicate dampness. This means that there is condensation on the walls, and this is a ventilation issue. Dampness can lead to health issues and is difficult to remove, so if you notice this, you may not want to carry on the tour.
Check the floors in each room, especially in older homes. The joists that hold the floorboards can rot over time, which can cause the floor to cave in.
This is a serious issue, so keep it in mind when viewing a house in the UK. If the floors seem too bouncy when you walk on them, look into this before you purchase the property.
It is essential to consider how structurally sound the building is when buying a house.
If there are big cracks in the walls, particularly where two extensions are joined, at the end of the terrace walls, or near bay windows, it may mean that the property will need a lot of attention. You should get a surveyor to confirm this.
When you are getting a sense of the home, add to your home survey checklist making sure each room is the right size for you. Ask yourself, “What do I need in each room?” Ensure that your furniture may fit in each space. Sometimes sellers will stage a room to make it look larger than it is, so be mindful of this.
Bring a tape measure if you want to be sure. Think about storage space in each room too—where will you keep your towels and extra items?
If the home does not have enough space, look into the possibility of extending or renovating it to add more space and value. If this is something you are considering, you need to plan for it. Make sure you ask about this when viewing the property.
Check the plumbing throughout the home, flushing the toilets and running the taps to check the water pressure. Also, check the radiators and showers to make sure they get warm.
The electricals should be checked too—turn on all of the light switches, ask about the sockets, make sure the oven and stove work, and check the refrigerator. Electricals can be expensive to repair, so make sure there are no problems before you move in. Consider the power points—are there enough sockets in each room?
Another thing to consider is mobile phone reception. Make sure you can get a signal on your phone before buying the property. Studies have shown that this is an important factor for many people.
Finally, ask the estate agent what is included in the price. Some furniture and fittings may be taken away when the current owners leave, so find out what is staying.
Often they will leave curtains and light fittings, and sometimes even the refrigerator and washing machine. Also, ask about the electricity bill to know what to expect each month.
When you have finished viewing the inside, check the general condition of the house.
Look for cracks in the walls, whether it has been freshly painted, how worn the carpeting is, and whether it looks old and creepy. If the property needs more work than you are willing to do, it may be best to view another home.
Be Sure You Take Your Time
Inspecting a property from top to bottom can take up quite a bit of time. According to stats, only 35% of potential buyers spend two hours or more at a given property. That’s less than the time it takes to plan a holiday! You should never feel pressured to rush through a viewing.
This could be the biggest purchase you ever make, so you need to make sure it’s the right fit for your needs before you make an offer. If you ever get the impression that you’re being rushed, don’t hesitate to ask the estate agent or anyone else who is showing you the property to slow down.
You need to take your time to think things through and consider all the questions you should ask when viewing a new house. Make sure to factor in enough time for that.
A Few Final Tips
Now that you know what to look for and how much time to dedicate to each property, there are a few other elements to consider when preparing to view homes and flats. You could add these to your home buyers survey checklist.
If you find a space you like, make sure to take a second look. Book the second viewing at a different time of day so you can get a feel for the property in different light settings. It’s not a good idea to view a property alone.
Bring your partner or another family member, they could spot something you didn’t and it’s an extra layer of safety. Take photos of things you like and things that concern you at each property; request the estate agent’s permission before doing so.
This will help you remember each location. Do a quick commute from the properties you’re looking at to your workplace, to get an idea of how long it would take to get to work and back.
If you’re looking at flats, check if it’s a leasehold or a freehold, how many years are left on the lease and the service charge; you can usually find this information online.
Evaluate the outdoor space to see if it’s communal, and if there’s a lot of noise from the neighbours, which could be annoying and affect the resale value of the property. Also, find out if there’s a residents’ committee and if you need to contribute to a sinking fund.
Once you’ve seen the home, prepare a list of questions for the estate agent or the seller to make sure you have all the info you need to make a decision. You can search “what to ask when viewing a house” to be sure you don’t miss anything.
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