Property Viewing Checklist
Here is my 13 point property viewing checklist. If you can’t see the video click here.
Having moved 21 times and viewed many potential investment properties, it goes without saying I have poked my nose around a fair few places in my life. This list has been many years in the making starting from as far back as when I was 8 years old, so I thought it might be worth sharing with you.
Know your particulars inside out
By that I don’t mean your inside leg measurement! Being prepared means you are more likely to notice the important points that won’t be on the estate agent’s details. Come armed with questions and don’t let them shy away from answering them.
Don’t take those particulars at face value – I once viewed a house which said it came with a garage which turned out to be one that the vendor was merely renting and wasn’t even guaranteed!
2. Do a drive-by
Don’t let your appointment be the first time you view the property. Drive by at different times of the day. Get out and walk around. Test out the time it takes to get to the station. Do this at different times of the day so you can get a true feel for the area – is it always quiet?
Talk to neighbours. It’s a legal requirement to give details of a neighbour dispute, but some may slip through the net. You are more likely to get an honest picture of the road from Doris who lives opposite.
3. Poker face
This is one my parents taught me as a child. Never show excitement to either the vendor or the agent!
Don’t be too negative though either as you may make them hostile which won’t help when negotiating.
These days, particularly with the rise of online agents, it’s more common for the vendor to show you around the house and if there’s a chance to meet them it’s always a good thing. Always ask directly why are they selling?
4. Check for damp
Damp is a really important thing to look out for. There’s good and bad damp though. Well actually there’s bad, and very bad damp.
For example, I’ve had a place where the smell hit you when you entered the front door. It turned out to be due to a hole in the porch roof directing rain water to an internal wall. That was relatively easy to fix.
Rising damp is another issue and one that is likely to be costly if not impossible to fix.
Look out for mould, flaking plaster, bubbling wallpaper and water marks on walls and ceilings. It’s not necessarily a reason not to buy, but should be a big consideration when negotiating.
5. Is it a crack den?
Hairline cracks are to be expected, but major cracks can be a sign of structural issues. If you spot the latter you will want to get a structural survey done.
6. Does it suit your needs?
By this I mean, think about the furniture you have, the rooms you tend to spend most of your time in. Is there enough storage?
Will it fit the life-size porcelain model of Timmy Mallett you keep in your kitchen – just as an example?
We struggled to find a house with a master bedroom to fit our super king size four poster bed. Sloping ceilings in bedrooms, while character adding, can mean you have to keep wardrobes elsewhere.
7. See through the smoke and mirrors
In a previous post I talked through how mirrors can be your friend when needing to create a sense of light and space. The opposite is true when you’re viewing a place to buy.
So watch out for clever use of lighting and mirrors. Also, homely smells like coffee and bread breaking may also be leading your senses astray.
Stick to your checklist and you won’t be fooled!
Know which direction the property faces as well so you understand when, if at all, it will have sunlight.
8. Raise the roof
Have as close a look at the roof as you can. This can be a very expensive thing to correct.
Whether it’s a tiled or a flat roof it will have a shelf life so you need to be aware if that is a consideration. Ask to go up into the loft so you can get a proper look.
9. Windows or losers?
If the property doesn’t have double glazing it could cost a fortune to heat. If it’s not double glazed the frames are likely to be old and potentially rotting as well.
Even if it is double glazed, how good is it and are there the appropriate certificates?
If you have to replace these it could be your single biggest cost if renovating, and is likely to bite you in the bottom when you go on to sell.
10. Spark up a conversation about the electrics
How old are the sockets? Ask to see the fuse box – if it’s old you may well need to have the place rewired.
Not only is this costly but is also likely to lead to redecoration.
11. …and about the plumbing
The same goes for the plumbing situation. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it most likely is. Try running taps and showers to see the pressure and generally clunking noises are not a good sign! Also, ask to see the boiler. Although even if it is new it still needs to be appropriate for the property. We had to replace a two year old boiler on our current property because it wasn’t big enough for the house.
12. Look for the potential
It’s important you are aware of the now, but look for what’s not there too. Brown carpets with purple curtains are easily changed.
On a bigger scale, is there room for expansion – into the loft, out the back, underground?
Can parking spaces be created out the front?
Has a precedent been set in the road? If others have been allowed to extend, it’s likely to make life easier where planning permission is concerned.
13. Unlucky for some
Those who are superstitious may not touch a house numbered 13 with a barge-pole, which may mean you get it for below market price. You can then replace the number with a house name.
Are there any other issues about the house that make no sense, but could affect the price for you buying, but then also selling?
Trust your gut
Go back as many times as you need – don’t be afraid to make a nuisance of yourself. It’s a lot to expect someone to spend often hundreds of thousands of pounds and potentially spend the rest of their life somewhere having only spent half an hour there.
Print off this list and until you can answer all 13 points you’re not ready to make a decision.
Ask yourself though does it feel right? There’s no good it being perfect on paper if it just ain’t right in your bones.
This property viewing checklist should apply when viewing properties to buy at auction, and you might want to check out my Property Auctions Guide as well.
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