Don’t be unprepared when on a property viewing
With the country now in Lockdown #3 and no idea when restrictions can be lifted, although Estate Agents are still allowed to arrange and attend live viewings, we are restricting a property viewing to 15 – 20mins.
How would you spend that 15 – 20mins when property viewing? First impressions count. Some buyers are so ‘WOW’d’ by their first property viewing of the listing that they put in an offer straight away and then sometimes live to regret it. With such a fast moving property market right now, snap decisions are being made to seal the deal and remember this is going to be your home and probably THE biggest financial decision you will ever make in your life.
To help you keep your feet on the ground and make sure you get the most out of your property viewing, we’ve put together a list of things to remember to look at and consider before making an offer. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent representative, that’s what they are there for, and if they don’t know the answer, make sure you follow up with them with a call to the office or an email when you get back home.
Either make a note of these pointers, or print them out and take them with you to address.
1. Is the property structurally sound?
A good tip is to arrive at the property viewing 5 minutes before your appointment. Have a look around the outside of the property and make sure there are no big obvious cracks anywhere. Depending on the age of the property, you can always expect some hairline cracks from movement. If the property has an extension, look for any cracks in the join and ask your agent if any guarantees come with the extension that was done. Bay windows are another area to focus on, cracks can appear where the bay starts to bow or fall away from the house. You shouldn’t expect to find all the answers at this stage, but anything that you think is of concern, make a note and you can then ask your surveyor to investigate at a later stage. A Chartered Surveyor should pick these points up anyway during their survey, but if you bring attention to your issues, they can make sure they put your mind at ease, or tell you to steer clear!
2. Which way does the property face?
Most Estate Agents will make a big deal of a South facing garden in the property details. It is worth however, making sure you know way the property DOES face. During the Summer months, a South facing garden can be a great addition to a property, making the garden more accessible and also the kitchen where the garden usually leads from, full of light and warmth. If the property you are viewing has a lovely garden but North facing, your plants may not love you very much! A good tip is to use the compass on your phone, you should have one of these these days, and check which way the property sits.
3. Don’t be fooled by the staging of the property
When attending your property viewing, the WOW factor is usually high on the agenda when making the decision to make an offer. BUT, don’t be fooled to easily. Don’t be afraid to look behind the sofa, it could be hiding a multitude of sins, such as damp, missing skirting boards etc. While baking bread, heating on full whack, strategic lighting are all tricks that sellers do, and are told to do, always be aware that these could be used to divert your attention. You may get the WOW factor from how the property is presented and staged for the viewing, but remember that it will look completely different with no furniture in it. Ask the agent what furniture they are leaving behind, such as light fittings etc as you may not be able to replicate the look that first WOW’d you. The living room may look amazing with a massive corner suite in it, but if you only have a two seater, the aesthetics will feel completely different. Take your own pictures and sit and plan it out better when you get back home.
4. Does the property have any damp?
Following on from point 3, the main suspect signs that there may be damp in the house is a mouldy or musky smell, paint on the walls flaking and watermarked walls or ceilings. Make sure when you view each room that you look carefully in the corners and around the skirting boards. An obvious sign is if the room has just recently been repainted, or if you are unfortunate to notice the room has a dehumidifier. Touch the walls, if they are overly cold or feel like they are damp, then make a point of investigating that further.
5. How old is the roof?
If you are viewing a new property, you don’t need to bother thinking about this one, but if you are viewing a character property, terraced house or a property that maybe older than you then it is worth asking about the roof. On a newer property, the roofs tend to only have a life expectancy of around 15 – 20 years and replacing a roof can be a very expensive outlay. As well as the main roof, if the property has had an extension added with a flat roof then you may want to make a point of asking your agent or following up afterwards with an enquiry of what the roof was sealed with. Older extensions may have used asphalt and gravel and over time this can break down leave the seams exposed causing leaks.
6. Are there enough sockets and the condition of them?
If you are viewing an older property or a terraced property, chances are that Playstations and Xbox’s weren’t around then! Focus on the living room, if the current owners have upgraded with more socket points then this will save a fortune and a real plus point to the value of the property. You can never have enough plug sockets! Also worth asking the agent when the wiring was upgraded, if at all. Dodgy wiring can not only be expensive to repair but extremely dangerous. Always take a look at the fuse board, if it looks in bad condition then it may cause issues when powering all the gadgets of modern day living. A good structural survey should pick this up, but always worth asking the question while you are there!
7. How much storage space is there?
Often an overlooked asset in modern living, with open plan living all the trend you will still need a cupboard to put the vacuum or boxes of junk in. Many modern houses built these days literally maximise every inch of space, but often overlook where anyone is actually going to store anything. Make sure in a brand new house, which will have no furniture in, you can imagine enough space to put the bed and also wardrobes.
8. Is the plumbing ok?
When you’ve been on a previous property viewing, did you ever think about the plumbing? Try turning on the taps to make sure the water pressure is up to the job. Depending on the age of the property, ask your agent if the pipes are insulated or not and if they are lead or not. Make sure you ask how old the boiler, if it is situated in the roof then it is probably an old one! Not so much of a question for a newish house this one.
9. What is the attic like?
Very often a low priority thought when viewing a property, until you move in! Chances are you won’t be viewing the attic if it has one even, so ask your agent how easy it is to access and if there is much storage space available. Depending on the size this could always be converted into extra rooms. Another important question to ask is about the insulation as this could make a big difference to your running bills.
10.What is the general area like?
These days a lesser known thing called google can tell you these things, but it is always worth asking the agent or house owner for their opinions on the area. Some questions you are likely to get an honest answer to and some you are best to investigate yourself.
A few points to consider:
Are you anywhere near civilisation? Can you walk to a local shop to get a morning paper and some tea bags or will you have to drive there?
Is the property on a main road, which will be noisy.
Are you going to be near a local school, which although may not be an issue when you view it, may be an issue getting into your drive at school leaving times!
Has the property got good transport links? If it snows are you likely to be stranded.
Are you located near a pub, that make get noisy in the evenings.
So just a few things to ponder on that will make the most of your property viewing.