Looking for a new place? Viewings can be exciting, underwhelming, and sometimes confusing. How do you know when you’ve found The One? And what should you keep an eye out for when viewing a property to stop yourself getting swept up in the moment and making a snap decision on what turns out to be a lemon?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, your estate agent, and the homeowner to make sure you’re covering all bases during house viewings:
- Is this property part of a chain? Is the owner in the process of buying somewhere new? Will you be reliant on their moving plans? How secure are you in your buying ability? Do you have a mortgage offer in place to sweeten the deal?
- What’s the neighbourhood like? Have a wander around the local area, preferably at different times of day/week to gauge how noisy/friendly/busy it is. If you have kids, have you thought about schools? What about transport links? Parking? Annoying neighbours…?
- Why is the owner selling? How long have they lived there and is there a specific reason they’re moving? If there’s been a high turnover of owners in a short period of time, it’s worth checking there aren’t any undisclosed issues to be concerned about.
- What council tax band are they in, and what other service charges/ground rent are applicable? Look out for unexpected costs and rising bills if you’re moving to a totally new area. Get an idea of utility costs to make sure you can afford to live there.
- Are there any structural issues? Check the exterior as well as the interior and look out for innocuous but potentially expensive issues such as guttering, drains, damaged roofing tiles and chimneys, damp, leaks and cracks.
- How long has the property been on the market and have they had any other offers? You don’t want to get your hopes up if a property is already under agreement or likely to be sold before you get a chance to put in an offer. Conversely, if the property has remained unsold for a long time, you might want to enquire as to why that is. However, if there’s nothing wrong, they haven’t had any offers and are in a hurry to sell, you might be able to get them to drop the price…
- What about the little details? How’s the shower pressure? Does the heating make a racket? Do all the windows close and lock properly? What about the taps? Plug sockets? Lights? What kind of boiler do they have? Is there enough storage? Be ruthless and thorough when you’re inspecting your potential new home!
- What’s included in the sale? Where are the land boundaries? Are there any outbuildings? What about white goods, fixtures and fittings? Curtain rails? It’s worth knowing exactly what you need and where you stand before you move.
- How does the price compare? Make sure to check online listings for similar properties in the area to find out if you’re getting a good price. Ask your estate agent how they decided on the price and make sure they can justify it. You can also ask what the bottom line is – your agent should give you a ballpark figure for a minimum offer if you ask directly.
- Are you in danger of being gazumped? Gazumping is the contentious practice of accepting a higher offer after a price has already been agreed with another buyer. Depending on the seller and the estate agent, you may be able to put down a deposit to secure your offer, or make a verbal agreement to ensure that any offer you make is safe from being leapfrogged.
- Can you speak directly to the owners? Most likely you’ll be shown around by an estate agent, but if you get the chance to meet and talk to the sellers, do so! You’ll be able to find out much more about the tiny details and get a more personalised view of the property that way.
- Has any major work been done on the house? Or, more importantly, have they ever had planning permission rejected? If you’re planning on making big changes, make sure it’s possible – check out other properties on the street and see how many have roof extensions and conservatories to get an idea of what’s likely to be approved. And if you’re in a conservation area or the house is listed, conduct proper research into what you’ll be able to do to both inside and outside.
- Can you come back for multiple viewings? It’s always a good idea to view a property more than once, at different times of day, and in different weathers. That lovely garden you saw in full sunshine one morning may be a dark and dismal yard in the afternoon when the sun goes behind the house. That quiet suburban street might be a handy short cut for commuters at rush hour. That open plan lounge/diner/kitchen might be nice and spacious but an utter pain to keep heated…
Viewing a property is just one part of the home-buying process. To get off to the best start, request a free conveyancing quote from the expert solicitors at Frances Lindsay & Co. We offer property and conveyancing services across the Thames Valley, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, with offices in Beaconsfield and Maidenhead. Get in touch at www.franceslindsay.co.uk and let us help you find your perfect property!buying property, conveyancing quote, house viewings, property and conveyancing, property solicitor