There are many things to remember when viewing a house. Bringing a friend, taking photos, measuring up and talking aloud are just a few.
In this guide, we will take you through our tips for viewing a house you may want to buy (or rent). There is no secret formula to this, but our checklist is pretty solid and is built on the experience of screwups and forgetting things.
Take Lots of Photos & Notes!
Photograph everything, every room and every view. We aren’t joking here – you will forget something, a layout, where a wall is, where a cable comes in or where plug points are – having photos will help jog your memory.
With photos have a page or two of notes about each room – what you like and dislike. Will the room needs a lick of paint, new carpets, new doors, are there blinds up that need replacing, is there damp – these are all things you need to make note of, and importantly particularly for damp things which you can use to help negotiate down the price when buying. Remember to measure each room too, not just length and width, but height too – then the windows including the drop for curtains (will it need a pole if you are putting up new curtains) – if there is a wall which cuts into the room measure where it is and how far out it comes, the same for doors (believe it or not, not all doors are the same size) – measure where your stairs are and how they cut into a room and make a note of what impact it may have on your furniture and make note of everything.
Quick note: if there are issues with a property you are looking to rent, having this evidence is key to asking for it to be fixed before it’s fixed, the landlord/agent should then act to get it fixed (assuming you move forward – though they should anyway if they are worth their salt) and you can then check their work and evidence the fix.
Take Someone With You
We can’t emphasise this enough. Take your partner, a friend or family member with you.
You alone won’t pick up everything, you could never observe everything. We’ve all been there where we’ve looked at homes and thought ‘this is amazing’ but been so ‘in love’ with the property we haven’t spotted the damp around the windows or that there is mould all over the bedroom roof or that despite being a new kitchen supposedly there are no kickboard and you will be footing that bill (pardon the pun).
Again make a note of everything they say, and if it’s something to do with a fixture or material to the building – photograph it. Evidence it and ensure you can use it to negotiate later if buying.
Touch and Smell Things
Sounds odd, but use your nose – if something smells bad in the house it probably is. If it smells damp move things find where it’s coming from. Is it behind a sofa, behind the bed, under the sink or stairs.
Also don’t be afraid to move furniture a little, though we don’t advise you do it too much. If you want to see what’s behind the big sofa against the wall, move it forward a little, want to see what’s behind the TV in terms of cables and need to move it a little, feel free but do be careful. If you are unsure about moving something, ask the person doing the viewing to help, ultimately they are there to help and you need to be comfortable and get every bit of knowledge from the house.
Be Early For Your Viewing
Being late is rarely helpful for an appointment, most viewings are booking in for a specific time slot and there is then a short turn around for another appointment – unless you have a special one-off viewing. So please don’t be late.
Being early also gives you a really good chance to have a look around the neighbourhood, soaking in what the street is like, and soak up the kerb appeal of the house.
Take Your Time
Unfortunately, some estate agents have a want to rush you in and out in a very short window, we hate this kind of agent. We also hate general open days, though we accept they have their place and are better than being pushed around. We much prefer big slot agents where buyers like you can take your time when viewing, soak in the detail of every room and not need to rush from one room to another.
If the agent is rushing you, ask them to slow down – if they can’t or won’t ask for another appointment when they have more time. Ultimately you need time to view a house, you need to be comfortable in your choice and being rushed means you won’t. This is a huge decision and you should not be rushed or pushed into it.
Always ask questions of the person doing the viewing with you. They are the fount of knowledge for the property, from the EPC rating to the reason the owner is selling up. Here are a few questions to consider asking:
- Do you have a copy of the property pack, including floorplan and EPC report?
- How long has the property been on the market? Has it been on the market before this recently?
- Why is the owner selling the property? How long have they lived here?
- What fixtures, fittings and land is included in the price?
- Are there any chains?
Have The Second Viewing
It sounds obvious but never place an offer on a first viewing alone. Go for a second viewing, take another – different or additional – person with you, seek to check any issues you’ve found previously are not structural, check for cracks in brickwork, cracked roof tiles and windows.
Once you are happy and if you wish to go ahead look to arrange a professional buildings survey / valuation survey.