What To Look For When Viewing A Property
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A Bloke

What To Look For When Viewing A Property

Buying a home is probably the largest financial commitment you’ll make. So, it’s super important to confirm that the property you intend to buy doesn’t have any issues that you aren’t aware of before buying. The last thing you want is to settle into your new home only to find out that there are expensive repairs, disruptive neighbours, or any other issues that could have been spotted prior to making the purchase.

When looking to buy a new home, I viewed many properties, usually writing brief notes about each. Below is a list of things to look for when viewing a property, which I’ve compiled from my notes.

Boiler Age

If the boiler is over 15 years old it may well need replacing. An old boiler could be a point of negotiation on the property price. Even if it can’t be used to negotiate price, at least know it might be an additional expense you need to consider.

Usually, it’s pretty obvious if a boiler is old or new. But if you’re not sure, ask the estate agent or seller about the boiler’s age. Also, ask when the boiler was last serviced. 

TIP: One easy way to tell a new boiler from an old one is if the boiler has a digital display. Most modern boilers have a digital display.

Old Boiler Has No LCD Display
LCD Display Is A Good Indication Of Boiler Age

Central Heating Radiators

Check that there are radiators in every room in the house. One property I viewed had the loft converted into two bedrooms and a shower room; none of the rooms had radiators on the central heating system. Instead, the rooms had electric heaters, which would be far more expensive to run.

 

Double Glazing

Check that double glazing is fitted throughout the entire property. Some of the properties I viewed didn’t have double glazing in every room. 

Check for blown double glazing. Blown double glazing is where a leak has formed in the seal between the two panes of glass, making the insulating properties inefficient and the windows unsightly. Often, you can easily spot blown double glazing as there will be condensation between the two panes of glass.

Blown Double Glazing
Blown Double Glazing

Getting double glazing fitted can be expensive. For a typical 3-bed house in the UK, it is going to cost in the region of £10,000.

Estimate Costs

As you’re going around the property, estimate how much it will cost to get the property to the standard you want.

Below are some rough costings for a 3-bedroom detached house in the UK. 

  • Bathroom – £5000
  • Kitchen – £12000
  • Carpets (entire house) – £3000
  • Double Glazing (entire house) – £10000
  • Front Door – £2500
  • Loft Insulation – £1000
  • French Doors – £3000
  • Patio – £3500
  • Garden Landscaping (basic) – £2000
  • Extension – £50,000
  • Cabin \ Garden Home Office – £10,000
  • Boiler – £3000
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Overlooked

As you view the house, look out of the windows of each room to see if the property is overlooked. Can neighbouring properties see straight into the house and \ or the garden.

Sun Blocker

Estate agents love to big up properties that have south-facing gardens. What is not always evident from the property description and photos is if there are objects that block the sun, for example, surrounding properties and tall trees.

Road Noise

If you’re interested in a property adjacent to a road and are concerned about potential noise, it’s advisable to schedule the viewing for a rainy day. A wet road creates quite a bit more noise than a dry road.

Double and triple glazing is very good at blocking sound, including road noise. It’s worth listening to the road noise with open windows.

Check Loft Space

If possible, poke your head in the loft and see if it has insulation. Make sure it doesn’t have spray foam insulation

Without any lights on, look up at the roof. Can you see any daylight?

Viewing With A Friend \ Family

Most of the first viewings I would do on my own. But, if I went for a second viewing, I would try to take a friend or a family member. It was helpful to talk to them about the property after the viewing. 

Estate Agents

As I’ve said in other articles, the estate agent is not your friend. They are usually very pleasant people, but at the end of the day, they are trying to sell the property. As you view the property, anything the estate agent tells you should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

Use Your Imganination

Some of the properties I viewed were grim, to say the least. I saw houses that had severely stained carpets, cat crap on the floor, holes in the plaster, bathrooms from the 70s and one property that stunk of piss. 

Try to see past the current owner’s decor and living conditions. Imagine how the house will look with new carpets and a fresh coat of paint.

I know many people are looking for that X factor when buying a house. I think they’re missing a trick by not using their imagination on how to create that X factor.

Take A Video

Many estate agents are posting video tours of properties that they’re selling. I find video tours very beneficial as they show every part of the house. Also, unlike photographs, which can be edited to make the property more appealing, videos show it as it is.

If there isn’t a video tour of the property you’re viewing, ask the estate agent if you can take your own video recording as you look around the property.

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Neighbours

Try to find out who the neighbours are, especially if you’re looking to buy a semi-detached or terraced property.

The easiest way to find out who the neighbours are is to ask the estate agent. If the estate agent doesn’t know, do some detective work. If there’s a trampoline in the garden and an SUV on the drive, then it’s probably a family.

Check The Outside

Viewings are mostly focused on the inside of the property, but it is just as important to view the outside of the property. 

Some of the things to check are:

  •  Are there roof tiles missing or misaligned?
  • What is the condition of the fascias and soffits?
  • Is there guttering? Is it in good condition?
  • Are there any cracks in the brickwork?
  • Does the chimney need repointing?
  • Are the windows and frames in good condition?
  • Is the driveway in good condition?
  • What state is the garden in?
  • Are there any big trees close to the house?
  • Are the fence panels and walls surrounding the property in good shape?
  • Is the patio in good condition?
  • What’s the state of the outbuildings? Shed, garage, garden office etc
  • Is there enough parking space?

Smells

Quite often, sellers try to make the property smell pleasant by using scented candles or spaying products like Glade. However, those with less integrity might use fragrances to hide the smell of dampness or some other concerning smell.

Don’t Rush

Sometimes, I felt under pressure to view a house quicker than I would have liked. This was usually due to the estate agent, who clearly had other appointments to get to, or the seller was loitering in the house.

I would come away from the viewing without really taking much in and afterwards kicking myself.

Rightmove Notes

I pretty much did all my house hunting using Rightmove. One of the little known features of Rightmove is that It has a notes box at the bottom of properties that have been saved as favourites. I used this notes box to write notes from a viewing.

Notes from viewing added to Rightmove notes

 

Signs Of Damp

Damp isn’t necessarily a problem; it could be that moisture has built up from cooking or drying clothes inside without adequate ventilation, like opening a window. On the flip side, dampness can be due to a severe problem that could be expensive to resolve.

  1. Visual Signs: Look for dark or discoloured patches on walls, ceilings, or floors. Peeling paint and \ or wallpaper is another sign of damp.

  2. Musty Smell: A musty or earthy smell is often the first indication of damp, even if you can’t see any visible signs.

  3. Mould Growth: Mould comes in various colours, from black to green, white and orange. Mould often grows in corners, on grouting, around windows, and behind furniture placed against walls.

  4. Salt Stains: White, fluffy deposits on the surface of walls are signs of salt brought through the masonry by moisture. Often seen in cases of rising damp.

  5. Condensation: Excessive condensation on windows and metal frames can indicate high humidity.

  6. Damp or Cold Walls: Touching the walls may reveal damp or unusually cold areas, indicating moisture within the walls.

  7. Structural Problems: Look for signs of deterioration in the building structure, such as crumbling plaster, rotting skirting boards or window frames, and lifting floor coverings, all of which can be caused by damp.

 

Conclusion: What To Look For When Viewing A Property

The first time I view a property, I check for the following:

  • Meets my main requirements
  • Check there aren’t any show stoppers
  • If any significant work is required

If I think the property is a contender after the first viewing, I will research it as much as possible using online resources.

I then schedule a second viewing, during which I will look at the property in more detail, going through everything I’ve listed above.

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