Five top tips for viewing potential properties
Finding a new home can be exciting and daunting, but you want to get it right.
Your property purchase could be one of the biggest investments you ever make, so don’t rush into it just because you are eager to move, or the place just feels right. Do your research, ask questions and make notes.
Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Housesimple, has put together his top tips to make the most of property viewings.
Tip 1: Be alert
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your first impressions of a house, but don’t let that initial feeling of excitement get in the way of spotting red flags, like signs of damp or cracks in the wall.
The tell-tale signs are easier to spot than you might think. Potential buyers should keep an eye out for flaky plaster and watermarked walls, paying close attention to ceilings and skirting boards.
If areas of the room have been recently repainted this could be an indication that damp stains are hiding underneath the surface, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have suspicions.
Furniture placement can also be used to mask cracks and other damage. If something doesn’t look right, simply ask to take a closer look.
Tip 2: Try before you buy
Ask if you can open cupboards and view any hidden spaces to assess the storage space.
Turning on the taps is worthwhile too – checking the water pressure and seeing how long the water takes to heat up is a good indication of the boiler quality.
Check if there are enough plug sockets and try out light switches to ensure the electrics of the house are in working order. When buying a heritage property, look out for bakelite switches as they may indicate that the wiring needs an upgrade.
Finally, have a good look at the state of doors and windows, and even have a nose around in the attic. Heating bills can really mount up in the winter so it’s worth knowing if you’re likely to have to replace doors and windows to make sure the house stays warm.
Tip 3: Ask the important questions
Asking the right questions can be key to securing the best deals or dodging duds.
If the seller is present, ask them what has motivated the move, what the neighbours are like, does the rubbish get collected on time, what’s the internet like? Plus, if the sellers need to move quickly for work or family reasons, this is useful insight to help negotiate a good deal.
Problematic neighbours can make moving to a new home difficult, so it’s important to ask the seller or any other neighbouring properties about this. Or if you are serious about the property, go ahead and introduce yourself.
Look out for renovations that require planning permission. If you spot anything that may require this, check the seller has the correct permissions. Missing paperwork can stall a property purchase, or worse, cause issues with the council in the future.
Ask about the big expensive appliances. How old is the boiler? How much is the monthly heating and water bills? How reliable is the internet? What are the electrics like?
Tip 4: Explore the surrounding area
Arriving early to viewings gives you the chance to explore the outside of the property and the surrounding area. This will give you a good idea of how far local shops, cafes, schools and access to public transport are.
There are some amenities that could add real value to your property. Certain supermarkets and restaurants are a real value booster, while useful transport services or upcoming infrastructure developments are worth reviewing.
Exploring the area will also give some insight into how busy it is. Go back at different times to see if rush hour is going to be mayhem or if the streets are well lit in the evenings.
Tip 5: Consider what could add value
No matter how long you plan to live in the home, considering worthwhile renovations from the offset will help you weigh up how much this investment could make you in the short or long term.
Whether it is converting the attic into an extra bedroom, a side extension to create a light and bright kitchen, or revamping your front porch into a reading room, renovations can make a big difference to the value of the home.
Think outside the box (or home) too. Parking spots are becoming scarcer in the UK, making them especially valuable. If there is a front garden available this could be an easy renovation, while having off-street parking will also reduce the cost of your car insurance while you live there.