First time I've ever viewed a house - help!

(51 Posts)
OttersPocket Fri 13-Sep-13 14:41:54


DP and I have finally managed to get a mortgage in principal, we have our deposit sorted, all we need to do now is find a house to buy!

It's a very competitive market where we are and 'first time' houses sell like hotcakes. We're going to view one this evening but having never bought property before I feel a bit overwhelmed.

The house owners are doing the viewing. It's a 3 bed mid-terrace with an attic conversion. So, what do I need to ask? What should I look out for? I'm in Scotland so I have read the home report etc. Any tips gratefully received!

NigelMolesworth Fri 13-Sep-13 14:53:00

Sounds stupid but look at everything carefully!

Try to ignore furniture and any strange/overwhelming decor - look at walls, floors, window frames etc. If the room is very full of stuff, the ceiling is a good indicator of room size.

Look for damp, weird electrics.

Inspect the roof - are there tiles missing? Does it have a bow in the middle?

Are there signs of water running down the outer walls from badly aligned drains etc.

Have things been well maintained? ie are the kitchen cupboard doors all on straight and well fixed?

Don't know much about Scottish house buying, but in England, you'd want to double check what is included? Ovens, dishwasher, shed??

Also, once you've been shown round by vendors, see if you can wander around on your own. Do you really want to live there? Can you imagine yourself living there? Never underestimate gut instinct!!

Have fun!

mistlethrush Fri 13-Sep-13 15:04:55

In addition...

Look for cracks - particularly in gable walls or top or bottom of windows.

Check where the power points are and whether there are enough.

Will the kitchen units need replacing (do check, don't go on what they look like from the outside - ours turned out to be very old but painted quite nicely - luckily they've lasted pretty well.

Look for paint on the walls that looks bubbly - might be damp.

OttersPocket Fri 13-Sep-13 16:14:18

Thanks for the guidance - really helpful!

Fingers crossed it's a good one...

Zoe789 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:27:15

If you think there's even a chance you might put in an offer, take pictures. I am about to move in (next week I hope) and it has been so useful to look back at the photos I took.

NigelMolesworth Fri 13-Sep-13 18:27:33

How did you get on? (nosey emoticon)

gindrinker Sat 14-Sep-13 15:31:41

Remember you don't have to make a decision on one viewing.
If you like it, go back... Think about it with your sensible head on. Drive past it at various times, check bus routes/parkings/schools/how long it'll take to get to work etc etc

OttersPocket Sat 14-Sep-13 19:51:06

Hi folks,

So DP and I viewed on Friday and fell a little bit in love with the house. It's perfect for our needs - structurally sound (I'll be getting a full survey though), spacious, great garden etc. It needs completely redecorated being very. very dated but we could take our time and really make it 'ours' over the next few years. I went for a second viewing this afternoon and took my parents who also think it's a good buy. We've checked out local schools (we're TTC at the moment), know the area pretty well etc.

I told the sellers I would contact my solicitor on Monday to make an offer and they seemed happy with this. I'm in Scotland and it's fixed priced so I'm hoping (and hoping and hoping) that it's accepted...

We're first time buyers and pretty clueless about the whole process (fortunately we have a great mortgage broker who is explaining everything to us) so it's all very nerve wracking! Wish us luck smile

Zoe678 Sat 14-Sep-13 20:00:23

Oh it's so exciting! I hope they accept your offer! I viewed a house end of May and I'm moving next week. Don't panic if when the survey comes back the house seems a wreck. There are always long lists of things that could be better.

OttersPocket Sat 14-Sep-13 20:17:56

Thanks Zoe. I really didn't appreciate how stressful the whole process could be. I knew it wouldn't be easy but my emotions are all over the place!

Congratulations on the move smile

Zoe678 Sat 14-Sep-13 20:26:48

Thanks! Yes, so stressful, but the stress is nearly over, because the uncertainty will be gone and then it'll just be hard work! have to assemble bunk beds and hundreds of other laborious and practical tasks! it's SO hard not to get emotionally invested into the place. but try!. This time last year I was just licking my wounds when I had to pull out of a sale, the survey came back and the house was more like a favela than a house. Anyway, this house is solid, but even it had a few issues. I bought a French Enamel house number before the this house even went sale agreed! I knew that was a risk, and it's not like I could use it for another house confused but for some reason I did it anyway. I had a feeling this time.

OttersPocket Sat 14-Sep-13 22:52:38

Zoe that's such a good story - but yes, it's impossible not to become emotionally invested. Whilst the seller was talking to me (over a cup of coffee, a good sign no?!), I was mentally re-decorating the living room! I absolutely have not been googleing plasterers in the area etc wink

NigelMolesworth Sun 15-Sep-13 16:35:21

Great news! Good luck for tomorrow. I will have my fingers crossed for you.

Nat38 Sun 15-Sep-13 18:08:15

Good luck for tomorrow!!!
The house I fell in love with was a 3 bedroom terraced house, the feeling of the house just felt so right!! There were 2 or 3 other houses that were so much better-semi-detatched, not so much work needed etc.
22 years & 2 children later I am still in the same/first house I fell in love with & bought!!

Zoe678 Sun 15-Sep-13 19:26:32

Yes, good luck, let us know if your offer is accepted!

Zoe678 Sun 15-Sep-13 19:29:57

That's brilliant Nat38. Is semi-detached better? I prefer terraced myself. There is a mixture of terrace and semi on the road I'm moving to and the semis are all more expensive but not bigger, or not signifcantly bigger The house I'm moving to is a 3bed terrace as well and I'm so looking forward to living in a house that might be slightly less freezing than rental house, I spent last winter with a north face coat on, inside! I know other people might live in bigger grander detached houses but to quote Kirsty and Phil, this terrace will be my "forever home".

Zoe678 Sun 15-Sep-13 19:33:47

Good luck tomorrow OP, let us know if your offer is accepted!

OttersPocket Sun 15-Sep-13 19:40:35

Thanks everyone, I'm poised to called my solicitor at 8.30am!

Zoe, it's the same set-up with the street I'm looking at - a mixture of terraced and semi-detached but with no real difference in internal size. Only difference is the price. And the house we are offering on is on offer for a very decent amount - just the decor which leaves a lot to be desired wink

I'll let you know how we get on!

Zoe678 Sun 15-Sep-13 20:36:50

I think terraces are a bargain. Moving from a semi to a terrace and the BER rating is much better in the terrace house, so I look forward to spending less on central heating. grin

Zoe678 Sun 15-Sep-13 20:39:44

Well "bargain" might not be quite the right word.

Update us at 8.45 smile

CinnamonAddict Mon 16-Sep-13 07:48:12

Good luck today.
We bought our first house (Victorian 3 bed terrace) privately. We went round the streets we loved and put notes through the door of those houses we could see ourselves living in. One couple replied, they were thinking of selling, we viewed, loved the house, bought and moved in 8 weeks later.
Now I know this is fairytale land for most housebuyers. It was just so perfect.
We sold and moved 6 years later (after dc3) and the stress was unbelievable. Luckily we are now in a house we could be in forever. It was a wreck, but in a lovely street and the location could not be better for our needs.
I remember the builders' comments when I said I want it presentable by Christmas. One said "next year's or the year after?"

I hope you get the house!

macskater Mon 16-Sep-13 08:06:54

Have you checked the factor fees? Have these been mentioned at all? I've heard of cases where these are prohibitively expensive.

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 09:02:14

Thanks for all your stories and luck-wishing!

I called my advisor at 8.30am and he is calling the sellers lawyers at 9am to make the offer. Eek - very scary and exciting!

Mac - no factors fees at this property.

NigelMolesworth Mon 16-Sep-13 09:31:56

Here - have a brew and cake while you wait!!

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 11:46:40

Oooooh look, my thread is in 'discussions of the day' grin

Still awaiting a phone call though....

sherbetpips Mon 16-Sep-13 12:16:45

Sorry if I misread but you are offering on the first house you have viewed? Hope it all goes well but if it doesnt you will be surprised and confused by what other houses have to offer. My DH always laughs because I always love every house we go in, he has to be the sensible one!

One thing I would say though is dont bother with a full price survey. they cannot check or comment on all the things that you would really want checking - gas, electrics, building work. If I were you (and I say this with bitter experience from buying our current house) have a basic survey then pay for a gas fitter, electrician and builder to give the house a once over. Get permission from the owner for them to be able to really poke about.

Jaynebxl Mon 16-Sep-13 12:34:49

any news now??

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 13:19:19

Thanks for the advice sherbet - I'll talk to DP about it this evening.

And yes, we are offering on the first house we viewed! Although we did go to view 6 other properties over the course of the weekend and nothing has come close to this one. We've also been looking online for the past few months and again none we have seen have been right for us.

No news as of yet - I'll update as soon as I hear.

BalloonSlayer Mon 16-Sep-13 15:50:04

I would actually disagree and say that if you are buying a house over a certain age, and especially with a loft conversion, then you can't afford NOT to have a full structural survey done.

A friend of mine didn't - "we can't afford it" - and the house turned out to have loads wrong with it. By chance I turned out to know the daughter of the guy that sold it to them and she was surprised anyone had bought the place, it was so rickety, although it looked good.

If the surveyor says the place needs £10,000 spent on, say, the roof, you have a good lever towards getting some of that or all of it taken off the price. Which is what my friend could have done. The £500 (as it was then) that she "couldn't afford" to spend could have saved her thousands.

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:19:58

yeh I would have bought a favela this time last year if it hadn't been for a thorough survey on the place! what's the price difference between the minimum and a decent survey?

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:21:15

Balloonslayer, it was a new house that I got a shock with. Thrown up at the end of the boom, it had that concrete that is not supposed to be used in the UK. What is it called? It can't handle damp or wet.

woozlebear Mon 16-Sep-13 16:23:21

If I were you (and I say this with bitter experience from buying our current house) have a basic survey then pay for a gas fitter, electrician and builder to give the house a once over.

Absolutely agree. Just bought a house with 20+ yr old boilder. Seller (and, weirdly, surveyor who I assume was totally incompetent) both said it was 'fairly new'. It was blatantly ancient, so we ignored them and budgeted for replacement within a few months. Turns out as soon as we moved in, it wasn't even working properly. Fine, no massive surprise. But as soon as the plumber came round to price up the job, it transpired the gas pipe round the whole house was too small, pressure was too low, and not only did we neeed a new boiler, but all the floors ripped up and new pipework. Job was 4.5k rather than 3k. And a huge amount of upheaval.

In future I will always get specialists to work out and price up EXACTLY what needs doing rather than just working on the average price.

Personally, I've now had two full structurals on two purchases with glaring errors in. I would be seriously tempted to get the opinion of a good builder and other specialists and not even bother with a survey in future. I certainly won't bother with full structural. Our surveys have had big mistakes in, and for 00s of £ haven't told us anything our builder wouldn't have told us for free. Our latest told us we definitely had asbestos in a roof and must have it ripped out. Testing said no asbestos. Would have wasted £000s.angry

allmycats Mon 16-Sep-13 16:25:44

I also would say to get a full survey - and they can check electrics etc as
pur surveyor most certainly made references to some issues with the electric wiring on our full survey.

A full survey can easily pay for itself.

That block work is called Mun ? something block isn't it ?

Aethelfleda Mon 16-Sep-13 16:39:40

Get a survey BUT don't expect it to be reliable. There are so many get-outs that they can get away with all but the largest errors. We had a medium-depth survey (not full structural as newish property) just to make sure no subsidence or roof about to fall off. They missed electrical issues, leaky shower, leillandii within feet of our boundary....
So do get a survey but allow a chunk of money for making good the stuff they will inevitably miss/consider "outside their remit"..... Ours is fine now but we had to spend ££ sorting it all out!

scarlet5tyger Mon 16-Sep-13 17:54:29

I've recently had a man round from an energy company who's also a surveyor. He was very good in the job he was doing for me, but while we were discussing the mistakes my (mortgage companies') surveyor made on the basic survey they did before I moved in he told me that technically for a basic survey a surveyor doesn't even need to enter the property!! They're just for the mortgage company to be sure they'll get their money back if you get repossessed.

minidipper Mon 16-Sep-13 20:04:18

OttersPocket - are you Scottish? Are your parents? I'm asking because my sister, who is English, lost several lovely houses in Scotland because she only offered a small amount over the advertised price and it turned out people normally offered between 10-20% of the asking price to secure a house. But she just didn't know this at the time.

Maybe the economic downturn has changed this and houses in Scotland go closer to their asking price, but do check with anyone you can, especially people who bought recently, what % over the published price they had to pay.

sarahtigh Mon 16-Sep-13 20:33:31

in Scotland if it is fixed price and you offered that you would expect to get it, some people might even offer a little bit less

the days of 10-20% over offers are long gone except perhaps in the most exclusive parts of Edinburgh, offers now would generally be just above unless very sought after and in certain parts might be under

Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 21:20:58

Pyrite! that's what I was trying to remember earlier. The new house was riddled with pyrite and although it looked beautifully finished, I think if there'd be flooding it would have melted, or something confused I don't know but surveyors think pyrite is VERY BAD

OttersPocket Mon 16-Sep-13 21:21:36

Hi everyone,

Thank you SO much for all of your advice. It's been phenomenally helpful.

I am Scottish and buying in Edinburgh. Our offer has been accepted by the seller subject to our full survey which is being carried out tomorrow.

We're over the moon! (survey dependent)


Zoe678 Mon 16-Sep-13 21:48:46

WOW, moving quickly to get a survey booked in for tomorrow. Excellent. You're a fast mover. You'll be in before I am at this rate!

nooka Tue 17-Sep-13 07:24:43

Totally second the idea of having a builder around, last time I bought in the uk we got a homebuyers survey first time around and ended up with a whole list of extra survey work being done, including in the end having my mums decorators visit to give us quotes. He said that from the survey he was expecting the place to be falling down! Ended up not buying because there were too many question marks and the seller wouldn't drop the price at all (I suspect because she took a lowish offer in the first place).

Second place I thought I'd get a structural survey just to get through all the hassle quickly. It looked good, very detailed and no major problems. Until we sold and were told that the whole of one floor had become detached from the front of the house (where a lot of the brick work had been replaced to put in new windows), oh and a a chimney breast had been removed too. Both of which clearly should have been spotted.

A friend did some decoration work for us a year or two earlier and said that he thought there was something wrong with the floor, so a more practical eye really is worth it I think.

upsydaisy33 Tue 17-Sep-13 08:16:37

Ask about the neighbours. You have to declare if there have been problems so a good one to ask or get the solicitor to ask....

MangoTiramisu Tue 17-Sep-13 09:31:01

I always ask "have you ever been burgled". But then perhaps I am paranoid. One house I look at was on a main road and they said "yes, twice". That to me said that it was a very easy target.

Ladyboluna Tue 17-Sep-13 10:12:08

Me and my DP got our first house several weeks ago, and we went to at least 20 viewings on the way.

You've made an offer on the first house you've seen?! You're brave lol good luck!

Make sure to ask them to take the house off the market once they've accepted your offer!

Ladyboluna Tue 17-Sep-13 10:22:56

Regarding surveys - we didn't have one, but then our house is less than 10 years old. On the day we moved in we had a builder and an electrician look at it, but I prefer to call them my in-laws! Lol quite lucky we had a cheaper and more thorough survey than money could have bought us. Admittedly it was after we bought it, however I don't trust surveyors as far as I can throw them. Heard too many horror stories that I know to be true.

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:04:56

I followed my surveyor round. He was too rotund to get into the attic and I know he would have left it if I wasn't there but I said to him 'you going to look in the attic?'. Anyway, I'm going on a pre-closing inspection later. Feel nervous and excited.

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 11:06:07

agree with ladyboluna, my offer was subject to survey and to taking the house off the website.

sherbetpips Tue 17-Sep-13 12:31:32

As I stated still get a survey but no point paying for the full one they are not qualified or authorised to check electrics, plumbing, they are not allowed to move furniture, curtains and often refuse to go in the loft to check roof space, etc.
Best idea may be to get a quote from the surveyor and ask for a full run down of what they will and will not be checking and what they are authorised to report on. Then ask for a comparison between types of survey so you know what you will miss out on. Good Luck.

Want2bSupermum Tue 17-Sep-13 17:25:20

When I bought my flat my Dad had his guys look it over for me. He had an electrician, plumber and structural engineer go over the place. The seller tried to argue that they were not authorized to check on things but I told them that if they want my offer the checks need to be done. This is potentially the biggest purchase you will ever make and a mistake will cost you thousands.

FWIW they found a lot of problems and put together a priority list for me. One problem was a balcony belonging to the flat above wasn't lined and the plumbing on the exterior wasn't done correctly so causing water to penetrate the brickwork. Damp wasn't an issue but became an issue because the others always voted against it. Eventually everyone started suffering from damp. If we had fixed it at the start the cost would have been GBP500. 8 years later the cost is GBP12,500.

Zoe678 Tue 17-Sep-13 19:52:49

Any news Otterspocket? Did the survey happen today?

EdgarAllanPond Tue 17-Sep-13 20:43:15

I would look particularly carefully at ceilings to check for signs of damp and structural problems. check pipework (copper, not lead!)
good hard look at the roof -particularly flashing and joins. Look at soffits and bargeboards for signs of decay. Note any cracks in render (do they correspond to damp patches on the inside?)

note the lie of the land, are any external walls banked with soil (likely to cause damp) or is your house in a swamp? exposed on a hilltop?

note which side faces the prevailing wind and any potential problems that causes (old houses have tile on the West side round here for a reason)

Walk round the area and get a feel for what it is like - don't like the area, don't buy the house. Chat to neighbours if they are about.

Think about how your day will work there - school run, trip to work, dog walk, park trip etc...shops in walking distance?

I see you have offered anyway, good luck with survey smile

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