What to look for when viewing a house

Last updated: December 2023 | 4 min read

Stepping into the realm of home buying, the costs of buying a house often take centre stage. Yet, delving deeper, it's the art of house viewing that truly shapes your decision. From the sturdy foundations to the welcoming neighbourhood, this guide illuminates the often-overlooked details. Just as understanding quick house sale techniques and the dynamics of gazumping is essential, so is knowing what to look for in a house. Embark on this insightful journey and discover the keys to identifying not just a house, but a home.

House Viewing Checklist

When you're embarking on the exciting journey of purchasing your first home, it's crucial to know what to look for when viewing a house. To ensure you make an informed decision and avoid overlooking essential details, use this comprehensive house viewing checklist. This checklist will help you navigate property viewings with confidence, making sure you don't miss a thing.

Questions to Ask and What to Look For

As a first-time homebuyer, it's natural to have questions and uncertainties during property viewings. Here are some essential questions to ask and things to look for when viewing a house:

Downloadable House Viewing Checklist

To keep track of your observations and questions during property viewings, we've prepared a free house viewing checklist that you can download and print. This checklist will serve as your handy companion, ensuring you cover all the necessary aspects when assessing a potential home.

Video: Things to Check When Viewing a Property

For a visual guide on what to look for when viewing a house, watch our informative video. It provides valuable insights and practical tips to enhance your property viewing experience.

Inside Each Room

When it comes to viewing a house, every room tells its own story. As a potential first-time homebuyer, you'll want to scrutinize each space to ensure it aligns with your vision of the perfect home. Let's dive into what you should look for inside each room.

Kitchen

The heart of any home, the kitchen is a vital space. Start by checking the condition of appliances, ensuring they are in good working order. Test the taps and sink for water pressure and drainage issues. Look for signs of damp or water damage, especially near sinks and pipes. Consider if the kitchen layout suits your needs and if there's enough storage for your culinary gadgets.

Bathroom and Plumbing

Next, inspect the bathrooms. Examine the plumbing to avoid any potential future plumbing nightmares. Flush toilets, turn on faucets, and look for leaks. Check the condition of tiles and grouting, as well as the functionality of showers and baths. Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent dampness, so ensure there's a working extractor fan or window.

Living Rooms and Bedrooms

In the living spaces, focus on the overall layout and room size. Is the space big enough for your needs? Check for natural light, and consider how the arrangement of furniture could affect the flow of the room. Look for signs of wear and tear on walls and floors. A fresh coat of paint can hide many flaws, so be attentive.

Storage Space

Storage is often overlooked but can make a big difference in your daily life. Inspect built-in wardrobes and cupboards to see if they are sufficient for your belongings. You'll thank yourself later if there's ample storage space.

Natural Light

The amount of natural light a room receives can greatly impact your mood and energy bills. Open curtains and blinds to gauge the level of sunlight. Consider the direction the room faces; south-facing rooms often receive more light throughout the day.

Energy Efficiency

Now, let's talk about energy efficiency. Look for double-glazed windows and insulation. These can help keep your home warm and save on heating bills. Inquire about the property's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to understand its energy efficiency rating. A higher rating means better energy efficiency.

Now that we've covered what to look for inside each room, let's move on to other important aspects of house viewing.

Windows and Doors

When viewing a potential new home, it's crucial to pay close attention to the condition of the windows and doors. These elements not only affect the aesthetics but also impact the energy efficiency and security of the property. Here's what you should consider:

Checking Window Frames

Start by inspecting the window frames. Look for any signs of damage, such as rot or decay. Well-maintained frames not only enhance the property's appearance but also contribute to its insulation. Make sure the windows open and close smoothly without any creaking or resistance.

Double Glazing and Insulation

Double-glazed windows are a significant plus in any property. They provide better insulation, keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Check for any condensation between the glass panes, as this can indicate issues with the seal. Inquire about the type of insulation used in the windows and doors to assess their energy efficiency.

Now, let's move on to other aspects of the property.

Garden and Exterior

When it comes to viewing a potential new home, the exterior of the property and its surrounding garden can be just as important as what's inside. Here, we'll explore what to look for when assessing the garden and exterior of a house to ensure you make an informed decision.

Assessing the Garden

The garden of a house can be a wonderful space for relaxation, entertainment, and even gardening if you have a green thumb. As you step into the garden, consider the following:

  • Size and Layout: Is the garden large enough for your needs? Does it have a layout that suits your lifestyle, whether you have children who need space to play or you simply want a peaceful retreat?

  • Maintenance: Assess the state of the garden. Is it well-maintained, or does it require extensive work? Consider your willingness and ability to invest time and effort in its upkeep.

  • Sunlight: Observe the garden's exposure to sunlight throughout the day. A south-facing garden tends to receive more sun, which can be a significant advantage for plant growth and outdoor activities.

  • Privacy: Check if the garden offers the level of privacy you desire. Are there high fences, hedges, or trees that shield you from prying eyes?

  • Drainage: Look for any signs of poor drainage, as this can lead to waterlogged or marshy areas, which may limit how you can use the garden.

Examining Exterior Brickwork

A house's exterior is not just about aesthetics; it's also about the structural integrity of the property. Pay attention to the following aspects of the exterior brickwork:

  • Cracks and Damage: Inspect the brickwork for cracks, chips, or any signs of damage. While minor cracks may not be a major concern, extensive damage could indicate more significant structural issues.

  • Mortar Joints: Check the condition of the mortar joints between the bricks. Crumbling or deteriorating mortar may need to be repaired.

  • Dampness: Look for any areas where moisture appears to be penetrating the brickwork. Damp patches or water stains can signal problems with insulation or drainage.

  • Repairs: Ask the seller or estate agent about any recent repairs or maintenance performed on the exterior. This information can provide insights into the property's overall condition.

Flat Roofs and Tiles on the Roof

The roof is a critical component of any house, and its condition can impact your future maintenance costs. When examining the roof, take the following into consideration:

  • Flat Roofs: If the property has a flat roof, check for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Flat roofs can be prone to leaks, so it's essential to ensure they are in good condition.

  • Tiled Roofs: In the case of a tiled roof, inspect the tiles for missing, cracked, or loose ones. Damaged tiles can lead to water infiltration and internal damage.

  • Guttering and Drainage: Examine the gutters and drainage systems on the roof. They should be clear of debris and in good working order to prevent water buildup and potential leaks.

  • Insulation: Inquire about the roof's insulation, as this can affect the property's energy efficiency and heating costs.

By thoroughly assessing the garden and exterior of a house, you can gain a clearer picture of its overall condition and whether it aligns with your preferences and needs as a potential homeowner.

General Considerations

When you're on the hunt for your dream home, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. However, it's crucial to keep your eyes open for some general considerations that can significantly impact your decision-making process. Here are the key aspects to look out for when viewing a house:

Confirming Land Inclusion

Before you fall head over heels for a property, make sure you're clear about the boundaries. Check whether the land you're viewing includes the entire property or if there are shared spaces or common areas. Understanding the extent of your ownership is essential for long-term peace of mind.

What's Included in the Sale?

Not everything you see during a house viewing may be part of the deal. Fixtures and fittings, such as light fixtures, may or may not be included in the sale. Clarify with the seller or estate agent what exactly is staying behind when you move in and what you may need to replace or purchase.

Water Pressure and Energy Bills

Water pressure can affect your daily life, from showers to washing dishes. During your viewing, test the taps and showers to ensure water pressure is sufficient for your needs. Additionally, inquire about the property's energy efficiency, as this can have a significant impact on your utility bills. Look for signs of insulation and ask about the property's energy rating.

Power Sockets and Light Switches

It's the little things that matter when it comes to everyday convenience. Check the number and location of power sockets and light switches in each room. Ensure there are enough to accommodate your lifestyle and preferences. Consider whether you may need to invest in additional electrical work after moving in.

Council Tax and Tax Bands

Council tax is a recurring expense you'll need to factor into your budget as a homeowner. Inquire about the property's council tax band and the current rates. Different areas may have varying tax rates, so it's essential to be aware of the financial commitments associated with your potential new home.

Local Area and Amenities

Your home isn't just about the four walls; it's also about the surrounding neighbourhood. Take time to explore the local area during your viewing. Are there nearby shops, schools, healthcare facilities, and parks? Assess whether the neighbourhood meets your needs and aligns with your lifestyle.

Transport Links and Mobile Phone Coverage

Easy access to transportation and good mobile phone coverage are often underestimated factors in choosing a home. Evaluate the proximity of public transport links and the reliability of mobile phone signal strength in the area. These aspects can significantly impact your daily life and convenience.

These general considerations may not be the most glamorous part of house hunting, but they are undoubtedly crucial. Taking the time to assess these factors during your house viewing can help you make an informed decision and ensure that your dream home doesn't come with unexpected surprises.

10 Tips for Viewing a Property

Take Your Time

When viewing a property, don't rush. Take your time to thoroughly inspect every aspect of the house. Rushing through a viewing can lead to missing crucial details.

Assessing the Building's Structure

One of the most important aspects to consider is the structural integrity of the house. Look for any signs of cracks, sagging, or dampness. These could indicate underlying issues that may require costly repairs.

Observing Carefully

Pay close attention to every detail. Look at the walls, ceilings, and floors. Are there any water stains or uneven surfaces? A meticulous observation can uncover hidden problems.

Accompaniment by Someone

It's a good idea to bring along a trusted friend or family member. They may notice things you overlook or provide valuable input. Two sets of eyes are often better than one.

Professional Property Survey

Consider investing in a professional property survey. A qualified surveyor can provide an in-depth analysis of the property's condition, helping you make an informed decision.

Evaluating Energy Efficiency

In an era of rising energy costs, assessing the energy efficiency of a house is crucial. Check for insulation, energy-efficient windows, and energy ratings. This can impact your long-term utility bills.

Documenting with Photos and Videos

Bring a camera or smartphone to document the property. Photos and videos can be valuable references when comparing different houses later on. Plus, they help you remember the details.

Neighbourhood Investigation

Take time to explore the surrounding area. Are there amenities like shops, schools, and parks nearby? Investigate the neighbourhood to ensure it suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Emotional Detachment

While it's easy to get emotionally attached to a house, try to maintain objectivity. Focus on the practical aspects and whether the property meets your needs rather than falling in love with it too soon.

Effective Communication with Estate Agent

Establish clear and open communication with the estate agent. Ask questions, express concerns, and seek clarification on any issues. They are there to assist you throughout the process.

Virtual House Viewings

In today's digital age, virtual house viewings have become an invaluable tool for potential homebuyers. They allow you to get a sneak peek into a property from the comfort of your own home. Here's what you need to know about virtual house viewings:

Convenience at Your Fingertips

Virtual house viewings offer unparalleled convenience. You can explore multiple properties without leaving your living room. This is particularly handy if you're browsing homes in a different city or even country. All you need is an internet connection and a device, and you're ready to embark on your virtual house-hunting journey.

360-Degree Tours

One of the highlights of virtual viewings is the ability to take 360-degree tours of the property. This immersive experience lets you navigate through rooms and spaces, getting a comprehensive feel for the layout and flow of the house. It's like being there in person, minus the travel.

Zooming In on Details

Virtual viewings allow you to zoom in on specific details of the property that might go unnoticed during an in-person visit. You can closely examine fixtures, fittings, and finishes. This level of scrutiny can help you identify any potential issues or areas that need attention.

Cost-Effective Explorations

Travelling to view properties can be costly and time-consuming. Virtual viewings save you both time and money. You can quickly eliminate properties that don't meet your criteria without the need for physical visits, narrowing down your choices efficiently.

Scheduling Flexibility

With virtual viewings, you have the flexibility to explore properties at your own pace. You can schedule viewings at times that suit you, whether it's early morning, late evening, or during your lunch break. This flexibility ensures you don't miss out on any opportunities.

Seek a Second Opinion

While virtual viewings provide a wealth of information, it's often a good idea to seek a second opinion from someone you trust. Share the virtual tour with a family member, friend, or advisor who can offer a fresh perspective and spot things you might have missed.

Evaluate Neighbouring Properties

Virtual viewings also allow you to assess the surrounding area. Use tools like Google Street View to explore the neighbourhood, check out nearby amenities, and get a sense of the overall environment. It's essential to consider the location when making a property decision.

Engage with Estate Agents

Even in the virtual realm, communication with estate agents remains crucial. Reach out to them with any questions or concerns you may have after your virtual viewing. They can provide additional information and address any uncertainties, ensuring you make an informed decision.

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