10 Aug 23 Things To Look For When Viewing A Property
Buying a house is a major decision to make. You’ve got to make sure the property is right for you and everything is functioning properly. Before you go for your next property viewing, be sure to look out for these essential factors, based on the things our surveyors look for when surveying a house. This will allow you to identify any warning signals to ensure you make the right decision.
You can identify damp by the musty smell, mildew forming on the walls, peeling wallpaper, blistering paint, dark patches, discoloration and mold. It’s caused by moist air condensing on the walls and is an indicator of the structure and ventilation of the building. Damp can lead to health issues, woodworm and fungal decay, and it’s a big problem to get rid of.
Check which way your house is facing. South facing rear gardens are most desirable as these get the most sunshine in the summer. You also want maximum daylight to enter your house so look at how much the sun shines through into each room. North facing rear gardens get little sunshine as the sun is blocked by the house as the sun rises and sets.
3. Room Size
Make sure each room is of substantial size. Ensure you can fit your furniture into the room, you could even take a tape measure just to check. Sometimes sellers try to be sneaky and put smaller furniture in the room to make it look bigger, but don’t fall for this.
An important one – location is everything when buying a house – you can change the house but not its location. Does it have good schools, excellent transport links, lots of parks and green space? How about restaurants, shops and of course a decent pub? Does the area feel like it has a good sense of community, or are crime rates high and the neighbors noisy? Are there any upcoming developments changing the area? Try to suss this out on your visit, or drive around the area to get a feel.
Run a finger down the window, is there condensation? This could indicate poor insulation and you need double glazing in order to save energy and keep the house warm. Are the window frames cracked and rotting? They’ll need changing and shows that the house isn’t very well kept.
Does the house pack development potential? Can you boost the investment potential of the property by making changes? See whether the property allows for extensions, loft conversions or whether you can knock that wall through to create a kitchen-diner. If you want to make changes to the property check whether it’s listed or if there are any protections against it, as listed buildings are protected from any alterations which may affect its character.
Check whether the plumbing is up to scratch. Flush toilets and run taps to check water pressure, check that the pipes are not lead and that they are insulated. See how hot the radiators are and how long they take to heat up. Check cupboards under sinks are dry and showers get warm.
Make sure the building’s structure is sturdy. If not, you may need a surveyor to assess this for you. Any big cracks across walls and joints signal that the building may be falling apart and may not be structurally safe. A survey can also help you determine whether the building is a non-standard property, which are built using concrete frames and steel frames, and named ‘designed defective’ under legislation.
Check that all electricals work by flicking light switches and plug sockets on and off. Check that the oven, fridge and stove work. Ask about electricity bills or any warranties on electrical items. Are any electric wires exposed or broken? If so, this could be very dangerous, so check their condition. It can cost a lot to restore and change electric circuits and a big task in partaking any electrical work.
Does the house even have a garden? Is it big enough? Will you need to do some work on it or does it need sprucing up a bit? Is it north or south facing? Will it be too much to maintain? Take all of these questions into consideration when looking at the garden. The garden can be a big plus if you ever re-sell the house.
Whilst looking around the property, take out your mobile phone and check your data connection and signal. In this modern age, even things like mobile signal matter when buying a house, in fact, nearly half of 18-35 year olds rank mobile as a key consideration when buying a new property.
Assess the general condition of the house. Look out for cracks in walls, how fresh the paint looks, how worn carpets or floorboards are, how tired skirting boards look, how creaky doors are. Understand how much TLC the property needs, and figure out how much you’re willing to put into it.
Look out for any missing or displaced tiles or leaky gutters, which are particularly common in old or ageing roofs. These tiles and gutters will need to be replaced, and maybe even the whole roof, which can be an expensive job. Flat roofs are particularly a problem, as have been constructed with cheaper materials. If you notice any standing water or cracks in this roof, warning bells should start going off. You can always get a roof survey to make sure.
14. What’s Included
Check or ask what’s included in the price. Do you get curtains? light fittings? white goods in the kitchen such as fridge and washing machine? How about the woodburner? You’ll need to know what you’ll need if you decide to move in, and understand how much you’re getting for your money.
Ask the sellers why they are selling – it could be due to noisy neighbours, they dislike the area, or there are upcoming developments that will impact on the property. Ask how long they’ve lived in the property for – a short time could mean issues with the property. Ask what home improvements they’ve made to the property to find out how well maintained it is. These are all important questions that the seller can answer to help you make up your mind.
16. Estate Agent
Also quiz the estate agent. Ask how much council tax is, how long the property has been on the market for, how quickly properties sell in the area. How many viewings and offers have been made? This will enable you to figure out any moves to make next.
Find out how much living costs will be, as you’ll need to know how many extra costs you’ll need to pay for once living there. How much are gas, water and electric bills. How about tv and broadband costs?
In older homes, joists which support the floorboards can become damp, rot and cause the floor to collapse. As you can imagine, this is pretty serious, and the ground can actually disappear from beneath your feet. Look out for a springy floor and a damp and musty smell. Another issue with flooring is a sulphate attack on ground floor slabs. This causes structural issues to the building as the concrete disintegrates.
Look for sufficient drainage in the area, and check whether the property is prone to flooding. Are drains accessible, of correct level and draining properly and quickly? Make sure drains do not block easily. Look out for overflowing water, build up of leaves and debris, or residue around the affected area.
Assess how secure the property is. Make sure walls do not contain footholds for climbing and the front area is open and seen by passersby. Plants and shrubbery can also be kept to less than 1m in height. Ensure there is security lighting and windows and doors are fitted with five lever mortice locks so that burglars cannot break entry. An intruder alarm and fire alarm are also essential so maintain safety.
When on your house viewing, just listen. Can you hear the next door neighbours making a racket, particularly look out for this if the property is a terrace. How well sound-proofed is the building? Can you hear traffic or trains, if so what is the property’s proximity from the road or railway? Noise levels may not be a primary consideration when viewing a house, but can become a big issue once living there.
How energy efficient is the property? You want to know this as you can help cut your energy bills (whilst saving the planet at the same time of course). Ensure there is sufficient insulation in walls and lofts and double glazed windows. The property may even have solar panels or wind turbines to help provide clean energy alternatives.
Lastly, and most importantly, you should look at yourself in the property. Do you get a good feeling about it? Do you imagine yourself living here? Can you see all your furniture in each room, cooking in the kitchen, watching tv in the living room and sleeping in the bedroom? Are you prepared to do any work that needs doing to make it your own? Do you feel at home in this neighbourhood? If so, you may have found the right property for you.
Next time you go to a house viewing, look out for these 23 key factors. This will ensure you have a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the house and all of its nooks and crannies, and whether it’s right for you. Happy house hunting!