A Guide to House Viewing

By Ian Cox

It is well known that the purchase of a house it likely to be the biggest investment anyone can make in their lifetime.

Research by Abbey National shows that the average time a buyer spends viewing homes before putting in an offer is just 96 minutes, 43 minutes less than people spend deciding where to go on holiday or what computer to buy.

As a result says Abbey 49% of house buyers then experience a problem - anything from noisy neighbours to slow showers malfunctioning because of low water pressure, which could have been avoided had they spent more time researching the property.

Therefore to assist our clients in the house buying process we have compiled 3 important checklists which every house buyer should work through before deciding to buy.

Checks Inside the House

  • Check the energy performance of the property: central heating, hot water provision, double glazing and insulation.
  • Are windows overlooked or do you overlook neighbours?
  • Are rooms, staircases and overall property big enough for furniture?
  • Are there adequate sockets and space for appliances and gadgets?
  • Is there enough storage space?
  • Is there enough lighting and does it all work?
  • Check loos, sinks, baths, showers and water pressure.
  • Is there enough ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens?
  • Ensure there is space for a loft or other extension if you want one.
  • What are the service and management charges, if any?

Checks Outside the House

  • Is the garden or terrace south-facing?
  • Are the grounds free of rubbish?
  • Will you be able to see your children while they are playing in the garden or courtyard?
  • Does the outside space need maintenance that you want to do?
  • Is the roof in good condition?
  • Check condition of outside paintwork and railings.
  • Are drains and gutters in working order?
  • Make sure you know who is responsible for boundary walls, hedges and fences.
  • Is your drive or parking space secure?
  • Ensure there is sufficient garden and other outside storage space. 

Checks Around the Area

  • Ask the neighbours what the locality is like.
  • Test commuting times by road and rail, before you have to make the journey for real.
  • Is there adequate car parking for you or visitors?
  • What public transport links are there?
  • How close are the nearest post office, dental and  doctor's surgeries?
  • Is it noisy from flight paths, nearby roads or local clubs and pubs?
  • Check schools' locations and Ofsted results.
  • Are there plans for nearby redevelopments, and will it be good or bad?
  • What are local crime rates?
  • Judge how well nearby land, parks or spaces are maintained and used.
  • Where are the nearest recycling facilities?

Other Useful Tips

  • You can change anything about a property except its position and where the light comes from. Look at where the sun is and take a compass. A measuring tape, a viewing book for jotting down notes and a torch for looking in attics are other useful items.

  • Bear in mind seasonal changes: leaves on trees in spring an summer absorb noise and could be shielding an eyesore - in winter you could be looking through branches at a sewage farm.
  • Find a way to meet the neighbours.  Imagine asking them to turn the music down - if you feel you couldn't do that, then think carefully about buying.
  • Be aware of what you want. What would yiou be prepared to compromise on and what wouldn't you?

  • Never pretend to be interested in a property when you're not. But be polite.

Of course none of the above obviates the need to make proper searches and surveys on the property but the checks outlined above can certainly help in making up a buyer's mind.