When it comes to looking for your next home, or maybe even your next buy-to-let investment, the prospect of viewings can be both exciting and exhausting. There is a lot of detailed information to take in, and oftentimes emotions can distract us from staying focussed and being objective. This is why it is important that you make yourself aware of some key aspects of consideration before scheduling your first viewing – which will help to make the whole experience more enjoyable, and ensure that you come away with all the facts you really need.
Use a Checklist
When viewing a property, always take a detailed checklist, so that you can keep track of all the questions you need to ask, and all the areas of the property that you will need to inspect. By referring to these as you go along, you can feel confident that you’ll be making an informed decision and remaining focussed throughout the process.
Consider the Condition of the Property
Buying a property is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life, so it important not to get hung-up on superficial factors such as the current paint colour in the living room, when really you should be focussed on the health and structure of the property. With this in mind, here are some key features to keep an eye on, which if not properly maintained can be costly to fix!
The Overall Structure: Keep an eye out for significant cracks on the walls, both inside and out. If you spot any, ask the property owner or the estate agent for more details. If you have access to the home report, these cracks should have already been addressed. If not, ensure that you get a chartered surveyor to investigate these thoroughly, as they are well trained to pick up on critical issues such as these.
The Roof: Replacing a roof can be costly; especially as modern rooves tend to have a shorter life expectancy of around 15-25 years. Take note of any lose tiles or visible cracks. Also, it is important that you ask what materials are used, as some are more durable than others.
Windows: Be vigilant when looking for rotting wood, stiff handles, and gaps in the framework. Any condensation between double glazed windowpanes means that they are in poor condition. If the windows appear to be newly installed, ask to see any certification or guarantees to ensure that they have been fitted by a credible company.
Plumbing: Turn on the shower, bath and other taps to check the water pressure level. Check that the heating system is efficient, cost effective and up to date. Lastly, look at pipes to see what condition they’re in and whether they meet current regulations, or if they’ll need to be ripped out!
Damp: Damp is a common problem which is easy to avoid and expensive to amend. Key signs which you should look out for are dark patches or water marks, a mouldy smell, crumbling plaster and cracks in the walls or ceiling.
Understand Land Agreements
Ensure that you fully understand what land is associated with the property, from parking spaces to the specific boundaries of the garden. Is there scope, both physically and legally, for any potential developments you are considering? It is better to make sure that you are fully aware of what land belongs to the property and what you are able to do with it, before you get your hopes up and find out that your development plans are simply not possible.
Sufficient and convenient storage space is essential in any home. Whether you need a place to store Christmas decorations, children’s toys or linen, it is important that you have ample internal storage. When looking at properties with garden space, take note of whether there are pre-existing storage options outside, or a place to erect a shed, for any lawnmowers, bikes or garden furniture which may need to be protected from the elements.
Are the Rooms the Right Size?
It is easy to get caught up in the ‘feel’ of a property, to get distracted by bay windows and pretty views. However, it is crucial that the property fit your needs – and your furniture! Will your corner sofa fit in the living room? Will you even be able to get it through the door? The kitchen may aesthetically be your style, but is it big enough to accommodate the island you’ve always dreamed of? Living in tight quarters can be a nightmare, so make sure there is enough space for you and your family – and a little extra wriggle room always helps too.
How Well Will the Property Capture Heat & Light?
It is important to consider the direction of the property when it comes to maximising natural light and minimising heating costs. South-facing properties are ideal as they capture the most light and heat on a day-to-ay basis. Of course, not every window in your house will face the same direction, so think about how much sun you really want coming into your bedroom or your living room. You also need to consider any obstacles such as trees and surrounding building which may restrict warmth and light from reaching particular rooms.
Will Noises be a Problem?
There is little worse than buying your dream home, then finding out that you can constantly hear your new neighbours through the walls or distracting road noises at night time. Perhaps the stairs are squeaky or nearby church bells ring once an hour. Where you can, view the property at different times of day to see what kinds of noises there are around the property, and carefully consider if you could live with those which are unavoidable.
Take a Tour of the Neighbourhood
Go for a drive or take a walk around the neighbourhood to see whether you feel positively about the area and the other people living in it. By looking both during the day and night, you can gauge aspects of noise pollution, general cleanliness, local amenities and see whether you feel an overall positive vibe!
Relevant documents may include the property’s energy performance certificate, a home report and planning permission for any work completed. Where you can, see what kinds of guarantees the current property owner has for any work carried out on the house whilst they have lived in it.
Go back for a second viewing
When you come across a property which you really like and are considering purchasing, one viewing is simply not enough. Your first viewing can be overwhelming and you may not notice certain details whilst you are busy admiring the room sizes and new bathroom suite. It is vitals that you go home and sleep on what you have seen, weigh up the pros and cons and follow up on any enquiries which you made during your first viewing. Then, go back for a second viewing with all of this in mind. You may feel differently when you return, and you may pick up on some elements which you hadn’t noticed before. Consider bringing along a friend or family member who can remain objective for you, especially if you happen to know somebody who is knowledgeable about properties, and can pick up on any important factors which you would not otherwise consider. By returning for multiple viewings, you can feel more secure in your decision.
When it comes to purchasing a property, it is vital that you have a checklist, not only of the features which you’ve always dreamed of having in your next home, but also of the practical elements which need to be considered. Keep your eyes peeled for any damage, noises or general maintenance issues which you would have to contend with. Remember, the most important thing to consider when purchasing a property is its condition. So, try not to rush ahead on submitting an offer until you are certain that you are putting your money into a quality home which will suit all your needs.