Buying a house Viewing a property - 10 top tips
Keep the following tips in mind when viewing a house or download our checklist below:
- On an initial inspection try not to see the house as a home but simply as a building that needs inspecting.
- Even in a fast-moving market, it’s a bad idea to buy unseen. The more times you view a house, the more likely you are to spot potential problems.
- Spend 15 to 30 minutes looking around the property, and view it three or four times at different times of day to find out how the light and surrounding noises change.
- Spend at least half an hour walking around the general area and revisit at rush hour and when the pubs close, on weekends and weekdays.
- Look at the structure of the building. For example, if there are hairline cracks in the walls, investigate further.
- Use your nose as well as your eyes: damp can give off a musty smell even if you don’t see physical signs.
- 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.
- The seller doesn’t have to tell you about problems - in fact they may try to hide them. Common cover-ups include painting over damp and hiding wall cracks or floor problems with furniture or rugs.
- If there's any vagueness or uncertainty over who owns a garden or parking space, make sure you find out the answer and get it confirmed in writing.
- People often think they’ve had a proper survey when actually they’ve just had a mortgage valuation. Be sure to always have a proper house survey done. If you're buying property in Scotland, ask the selling agent for the home report, which includes a survey.
Expert video: how I viewed properties
Which? mortgage adviser David Blake and property surveyor James Rangeley explain how they used their expert knowledge when going on property viewings.
Checklist: viewing a house
It’s easy to fall in love with a property and forget to be practical. However, by keeping your wits about you and asking yourself and the agents direct questions when viewing a property, it’s possible to avoid problems.
The viewing checklist below is a printable, easy-to-use list of questions that you should ask yourself, the owner or the estate agent when you look around a property.
Viewing checklist (PDF: 41Kb)
Download our checklist of questions you should ask yourself or the estate agent when you look around a property.
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