When you are looking to buy a new property, you need to take the viewing process seriously. Buying a home is a significant investment and a long-term financial project. There may be deal-breakers for your search. You may definitely need three bedrooms or a good-sized garden. It might be important to be close to a transport hub, or there is a local school that will benefit your kids the most. Beyond these necessities, you will have hopes and dreams for the property.
With all this in mind, you must spend more than twenty minutes scanning the home. You will fall in love with a home with your heart, but you need to assess it with your head. Here is what you should look for as you walk around the rooms.
Start by setting your limits
You need to start by checking your finances. There is no point in viewing properties that our of your sights. You may also be able to afford more than you think. There may be no reason to compromise and take on a substandard house if your finances tell you that you can afford something more. Knowledge is power, and it will guide your search.
Start with the big things
There are specific details you should check that will immediately tell you not to buy. You need to make sure you trust the building is structurally sound. If there are large cracks in the walls or there is obviously damp rising up the walls, you probably want to pass on this property. Your mortgage company will likely refuse to loan on the property anyway. You will seek the advice of a surveyor during the buying process and if they report that the structure is severely compromised, in all likelihood your funding will be withdrawn.
The big things include the roof, watermarked walls, flaky plaster, visible leaks or mould. You might love the building and its setting, but you could be purchasing a money-pit, and this love will seep away along with your bank account.
Now, the slightly smaller concerns
The big things might be a deal-breaker. However, other issues might cause you to pause for thought, but you could compromise if needed. For instance, a north-facing garden is going to be cold and in shadow most of the year. Will this end up depressing you? There may be limited storage about the place. Are you going to be okay with the potential clutter this results in?
You should also switch on the taps, make sure the boiler works and check all the power points. Consider that list of expensive maintenance jobs that you wouldn’t want to pay for soon after buying a house.
Finally, you should walk around the neighbourhood. This is not a search for gossip. You are looking for those hard to find details that will hint at the problems you could face. The people selling the house are not obliged to disclose issues with neighbours unless they have reported them to the police. Look for signs that there is a positive community feel. Do they take care of the gardens? Is there litter everywhere? Do people park considerately? Are there people walking dogs? Can you see people chatting?
The other details that will make a property a home
When you have gone through all the reasons not to buy a home, then look for the reasons you want to live in this place. You should check for the local amenities – a pub, a takeaway, maybe even the local shop.
Then, meander the rooms and imagine your furniture in this space. Can you picture sitting at your dinner table? Is there an image of your squishy bed clear in you mind in the master suite? If you find yourself thinking about where you would put your shoe collection, you know you have started to fall in love with this place.
Instructions for viewing a property
With this guidance on thoughts and feelings in mind, you are ready to view the property. These are the simple steps to follow:
1. Spend a total of 90 minutes in the property. You might want to go a few times before you select this house. Research suggests that those who spend this amount of time in the property will end up paying a much lower price.
2. Walk around the outside of the property and consider structural integrity. There might be no point in continuing with the viewing.
3. When you view the rooms look for the things you would try to hide. Use your nose carefully – smells reveal a lot more about the property. They are harder to hide with a little bit of paint and some soft furnishing.
4. Go back more than once even if you are told that there is lots of interest. Don’t be rushed. There will be other properties if someone gets to this one before you. It is best to be confident, and an over-eager estate agent should always be a concern.
5. Finally, check the neighbourhood at different times of the day. You may miss the fact that your home is on the commuter route and becomes heavily congested for four hours every day.