How to buy a house Viewing a property - 10 top tips
Keep the following tips in mind when viewing a house:
- On an initial inspection try not to treat 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 often you view a house, the more likely you are to spot potential problems before you move in.
- View the property three or four times, at different times of day, to find out what it’s really like.
- Look at the structure of the building. For example, if there are hairline cracks in the walls, investigate further.
- Be wary of damp, check as thoroughly as you can, and keep your nose open as 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, but at least you should get a professional opinion and use this to renegotiate the price.
- Spend 15 to 30 minutes looking around the property, and then at least half an hour walking around the general area.
- Find out what the area is like at rush hour, when the pubs close, at weekends and on a weekday. Try to drive from the property to work or school during rush hour to check your commute.
- The seller doesn’t have to tell you about problems, and they may try to hide them. Common cover-ups include painting over damp, putting furniture in front of cracks, or rugs over floor problems. People may also be vague about who owns gardens and parking spaces.
- People often think they’ve had a proper survey when they’ve simply had a mortgage valuation. They haven’t. This is for the benefit of the mortgage provider, not you, and you should get a proper survey done. Visit our guide to house surveys for more. If you are buying in Scotland, ask the selling agent for the home report, which includes a survey.
Checklist for 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 house viewing, 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: 328Kb)
04 April 2007
Download a list of questions that you should ask yourself or the estate agent when you look around a property
For more property advice, see our book Buy, Sell & Move House which contains everything you need to know to navigate the property maze.