When you consider it, looking at a property for the first time is an unbelievably complicated experience. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of different things to take in – the area, the owners, the agent, the property, the garden, the condition, the structure, the aspect – the list could go on and on.
In fact, in the average time allocated by an agent for a viewing – 15 minutes – you literally will not be able to see everything you need.
So study the photos and floorplans online carefully before you go and use something like Google Streetview to take a virtual stroll in the area – you might decide its not for you and save everyone a lot of time.
Use our list of seven essentials to look out for and if the right boxes are ticked, make an appointment to go back to really get a feel for the house.
So without further ado, here is our guide to the top things to look out for...
- Neighbours. What are the nearby properties like – a bad neighbour can make life hell and devalue a property. Check the houses for lack of care, multiple doorbells (could be flatlets), refuse not in bins, old cars being repaired etc etc. Can you live with it?
- Aspect. Mobile usually have a compass feature. Use it! The sun rises in the east and sets in the west so east gardens lose sun in the afternoon, west has it all evening. South is somewhere between the two and most popular.
- The big stuff. Kitchens, bathrooms and roofs are the costliest things to replace so check if they are tired and dated.
- Check the EPC. You’ll see what improvements are needed to make the house more economical and get clues about the condition of windows, insulation, boiler and radiators.
- Damp. Does the house smell a bit musty when you walk in. Have a sneak peek behind sofas or cupboards if you can to see if there is any mould growth. Dampness can often be easily cured but its best to know.
- Mains. Make sure you find out what services are connected. Septic tanks or oil fuelled heating is common in rural areas and can be costly to run.
- The seller’s position. Is the house empty and chain free? If not try to find out the seller’s plans as chances are, you’ll have to fit in with them! Ideally you want a seller who has found somewhere to go or will simply vacate.
Free Tip 8!
- Lastly, go with your gut – do you like the house? Can you really see yourself happy there? If so, many of the usual obstacles can be overcome.
Remember, don't set your heart on a property because you like, for example, the front door. You must be methodical in your decision when buying a property because you'll have to take the bad with the good!