What to look for when viewing a property
by Katie Mamo
Would you spend only 20 minutes viewing a property that is going to be your home for many years? Some buyers do – and live to regret it. Here Attik’s handy list of essential things to look for when go to view any house for the first time. It’s not an exhaustive list, as there may well be other things about a property which will be important for you personally.
This list covers the essential, but talk to us before you arrange a viewing as we don’t want to show you a 1930’s fixer-upper if you want a new build.
Is there damp?
The main giveaway signs are a mouldy smell, flaky plaster, and watermarked walls or ceilings. It sounds obvious, but make sure you look closely near the ceiling and around the skirting boards. Another clue might be if the room has just been repainted – possibly covering up damp.
Is the building structurally sound?
Cracks are what you are looking for – you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. If you see major cracks or have any doubts it might be worth getting a survey.
If only for peace of mind. If any walls look like they are seriously bowing consider engaging a structural engineer.
How much storage space is there?
Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, ironing board, and boxes of junk? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Especially in newly built houses, storage space can be scarce.
Which way does the house face?
In winter, on a cloudy day or at night, it is difficult to tell the difference between a north and south facing house or garden – but in summer it can make the difference between a home that is full of light and warmth and one that is frustratingly dark. Your favourite plants might notice too and protest by dying. Don’t be shy about taking a compass with you to the viewing – you have one on your iPhone, the Compass App
Are the rooms big enough for your needs?
Occasionally, it has been known for sellers to put smaller furniture in rooms to make them seem bigger. Take a tape measure and the dimensions of any big items of furniture you need to fit in.
Watch for staging
Cleverly placed mirrors, strategic lighting, delicious smells, cosy fires, and fresh licks of paint are all ways to make a house more appealing. At Attik we can help you stage your own home for sale. Staging is just making the best of the house for sale, but you need to make sure that the house tick all your other boxes.
Do the window frames have cracking paint? Is the double-glazing intact?
The state of the external window frames is a great indicator of the state of the house – if people look after those, they are likely to have taken great care of the rest. If you can easily push your finger into wooden window frames, they are probably rotten. If there is condensation between double-glazed window-panes it means that the sealed units have ‘blown’ and are no longer air-tight. You can replace individual glass units, but this isn’t cheap.
How old is the roof?
Replacing a roof is very expensive. Also, if the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, check out the material with which it is sealed. Modern construction methods use a membrane which is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed.
Are there enough power points and what condition are they in?
Poor wiring can be dangerous, even life threatening and rewiring a house is another expensive business. Putting extra sockets in is possible, but not something you can do yourself, so you will need the services of an electrician.
Also check out the fuse board – often an indication of the state of the wiring. Does it look old and outdated?
Is the plumbing up to scratch?
Run the taps to check the water pressure. Ask if the pipes are insulated, and ensure they are not lead which would have to be replaced. Do the radiators actually work? How old is the boiler? If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is probably an old one, and may have to be replaced
Is the property adequately sound-proofed?
If the sellers have the radio or television on ask for it to be turned down to ensure that you can’t hear your neighbours’ every word.
What’s the attic like?
People often ignore the attic, but it is an important part of the house. How easy is it to access? Is there much storage space? Could it be converted into extra rooms? Is there insulation?
What’s the area like?
- Are you near a pub or bar or kebab shop that becomes rowdy in the evening?
- Can you walk to shops to get a pint of milk, or do you have to drive?
- Is it easy to get to public transport?
- Are there noisy roads or train tracks nearby?
- Are you underneath a flight path?
Is there sufficient drainage in the area?
Check the whereabouts and levels of external drains. Are the drains accessible and are they fully functional? Keen gardeners may use lots of extra water which can cause severe structural problems for potential home improvements such as conservatories or patios. If you are concerned about insufficient drainage for a property you wish to buy, then get a structural survey.
And most importantly, does it feel like you could make it your home?
If you do like a property, arrange another viewing for a different time of day, and scout out the local area a bit more. If you can, take somebody with you who might be able to notice things you don’t.