It's not always easy but when you're hunting for a new home, it can be difficult not to get too attached early on. We have some top tips to help you get the most out of any visit so that your heart doesn't overrule your head and cause you to overlook any problems.
First things first, don't be rushed. This is your opportunity to explore the property and find out if it's the one for you. Try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes viewing the property and really get a feel for the place.
Take a look at the key questions to ask below, and print off our handy checklist to help you along the way.
Importantly, don’t worry if you do spot faults, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off buying. You could use what you've discovered to negotiate on the price, depending on how big the issue is and how much it will cost.
So, you've found a great property and now you want to know...
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 any damp.
How much storage space is there?
Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen 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, during 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 low lit. This could also affect your favourite places too. Don’t be shy about taking a compass with you to the viewing – you might have one on your iPhone.
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. maybe take a seat in the dining room to see if the chairs are a comfortable size.
Have you been fooled by recent changes in decoration?
Cleverly placed mirrors, strategic lighting, delicious smells, cosy fires, and fresh licks of paint are all tricks sellers use to make their home more appealing. Make sure you don’t get fooled. You'll probably be extra hot on spotting it because you'll have been using similar tricks to update the house you're trying to sell.
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 frame, they are usually rotten. If there is condensation between double-glazed window-panes it means that they are faulty.
How old is the roof?
Replacing roofs is an expensive business, and newer roofs have a life expectancy of only 15-20 years, depending on the materials. If the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, check out the material with which it sealed. Nowadays a membrane is used and is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed.
Are there enough power points and what condition are they in?
Dodgy wiring can be dangerous and rewiring your new home can be an expensive business. 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 soon.
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.
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.
What's the area like?
Are your near a pub or late night eatery that becomes rowdy in the evening? Its also worth considering how far you are from the local shops, can you walk to get a pint of milk or do you have to drive? Whats public transport like in the area and are you near any noisy roads or train tracks.
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. Even in a fast-moving market, if possible it’s best to go and see the property more than once before you make your decision to buy.
By viewing at different times of day, you can find out how the light, traffic and surrounding noises change. You might just discover that the quiet, idyllic street you saw at 11am is a busy main commuter route at 6pm. If you can, take somebody with you who might be able to notice things you don’t, and be sure to ask as many questions as you like.
Finding the dream property for your retirement may take a few viewings, but with these tips and our simple checklist you'll really make the most of your viewings - making the search more successful!
Here at Homewise, we're more than happy to accompany customers on viewings. If you'd like to find out how we can support you and make your move easier, just get in touch. We're here to help.
Are you selling your current property? Read our quick guide to help you prepare your house for buyers and avoid common mistakes that could cost you your sale.