Top tips for buyers to consider when viewing potential properties.
Viewing a property can be exciting, but it’s easy to forget to check all the essentials.
It's important that you make the most of a property viewing to ensure that you're as informed as you possibly can be when it comes to putting in an offer.
Make a list of all the things that are important to you and any questions you want to ask before the viewing.
Inevitably there will be compromises, so go in knowing exactly what you want. Whether it’s proximity to the nearest Tube station or being in the catchment area for a particular school, make a list of your deal-breakers.
Come to a decision on what you can afford, then stick to it. Things can usually end up costing more than originally planned, so it’s vital to have spare cash for any emergencies and extras, such as stamp duty, legal fees and surveying costs.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, it will be time to look for a mortgage in principle. Shop around the various lenders, and bear in mind the differences between them.
Find out as much about the area as you can. Spend at least half an hour walking around to see how close the things that matter to you are, such as cafés, schools, transport links or local shops. This can save you time going to viewings for properties that turn out to be too far out of your way.
Remember to revisit the area at rush hour, when pubs close, and on weekends and weekdays, so you get a good sense of what it is like when it’s busy and when it’s quiet.
Also, how do crime rates compare with those in other areas? Visit police.uk to search for crime maps by postcode and find performance data for the relevant police force.
If you already have some furniture that you want to use in your new home, make sure it will fit. A notepad for jotting things down can be useful, too – you’ll be surprised how easily you can forget the details.
Some of your questions will be answered later on in the process, but if certain details are necessary to your decision-making, ask about them upfront. It’s a good idea to have a list of questions prepared because it’s easy to forget some of them.
Never go to a viewing alone. Either take a partner or friend, or attend the viewing with an estate agent. Not only is it safer, but viewing with someone else allows for them to notice or remember different things, as well as giving you someone else to talk over your concerns with, or who can curb your enthusiasm.
Don’t be afraid to go back. Even in a fast-moving market, it’s best to go and see the property more than once if possible. The more times you view a house, the more likely you are to spot potential problems. Try to make sure you visit at different times of day, even if it’s just the street outside.
The 2015 Which? property survey found that 26% of people viewed their current home once before buying it, 43% twice, 21% three times and 11% four or more times.
Lastly, don’t get too attached to a particular property or your heart might rule your head and cause you to overlook any problems.
It’s not always easy, but on an initial viewing try to see the house simply as a building that needs inspecting. You are going to have to live with your decision for a long time, so try not to rush into any rash decisions.
Image: Alan Cleaver