Many property viewings last less than 15 minutes, and you might not have time to arrange a number of viewings before you decide whether you’d like to make an offer. To ensure you have enough information to make this major life decision, this property viewing checklist suggests the features you should look at. A checklist is essential when you become seriously interested in buying a property. It will help you make a better and more informed decision that is not based on curb appeal. It can also help you step away from the emotional pull you will feel for a house you want to own. Buying your new home is a huge decision and it’s important to know what to look for when viewing a house. Looking carefully at the start could save you wasted fees and repairs later on.
Spend a minute or two assessing the size of each room in comparison to the items you’ll want to put in it. For example, will the kitchen have room for a fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer, or will you need to choose which of these are essential to you?
If items such as washing machines and dishwashers are already in the property, ask if they’ll be included in the sale. It’s worth checking about anything that’s not permanently attached to the property, so there are no surprises. Remember to check that all appliances are in good working order, including radiators, showers, etc. Ask how recently the boiler has been installed or serviced.
Is there any existing damage to the carpets, walls, fittings, etc? If so, mention it to the estate agent or current owner so you can discuss whether it can be repaired before you move in, or if the asking price can be adjusted with consideration to repair costs.
Determine how much natural light the property gets during the day, taking note of any electric lights that are on at the time of the viewing. You can check which way each of the rooms faces to work out which time of day they’ll get the most sunlight: east-facing rooms will get sunlight in the morning, west-facing rooms in the evening, and south-facing rooms for most of the day.
PHONE AND WIFI
Check your phone signal during the viewing to ensure that your network provider has good coverage in this area. You may also want to test the broadband speed or check online to find out expected speeds for the area.
If you like to spend time outside, then the size of the outdoor space will be important. But the direction it faces also matters, as it could mean your garden, patio or balcony is in shade at the time you want to enjoy it. Use a compass app on your phone to check that the direction mentioned in the property listing is correct. If the property has a communal garden, you’ll need to check who is responsible for maintenance.
If the property has a parking space or driveway, you’ll easily be able to see if this is sufficient for you. If not, make note of how busy the street is and whether you’d be likely to find parking close to home every day. You might want to come back in the evening, for example, at peak times for parking, to see what the situation is like then.
If you’re purchasing a leasehold property, it’s essential to find out how many years remain on the lease, and whether you’ll need to pay monthly service charges.
Try to get a sense of what the neighbours are like for the whole street. Are there a lot of families with young children? Are the buildings and gardens well looked after? How close are your nearest neighbours, and can you hear them while you’re outside the property, or even inside?
Ask if the current owner can give you some guidance on how much they spend each month on utilities and council tax.
Plan your route to work, and any other journeys you regularly take. You could also try that route one day to see if everything runs on time and how busy it is. If you’ll be travelling by public transport, you might want to walk from the station to the property after dark to see if you’d be comfortable making that journey regularly.
Find out which GPs and dental surgeries it’s possible to register with locally. Check if there are cafés, pubs, gyms and any other amenities that are important to you in the local area. You might want to try them out before you commit to living there long term.