What do I look for when viewing a house to buy?(19 Posts)
We're looking to buy our first home and have started to look at potential properties. When we view a house, we're looking at the area itself, layout, storage space, access from side/ back etc. We're really excited but possibly a bit clueless and I'm afraid we're not really asking the right questions of the estate agent. Its such a huge purchase and I don't want to end up with a house that has issues that we should have seen.
Are there specific things that I should look for? What things have you seen in houses that you know are going to be trouble and would stop you from purchasing?
It completely depends what you're looking for in terms of type of property and location. E.g. one person might shudder at being near a main road, but for someone else they might like that as it means easy transport links, or something...
The only things that would point-blank put me off are current structural issues (these will probably be very obvious - such as massive cracks or uneven floor). That and a very obviously dodgy area or dodgy/ noisy neighbours.
Oh - check the water pressure! (Turn the taps/ shower on). Crap water pressure is a bug bear of mine.
trust your nose, if it smells suspiciously clean ie bleach or all rooms have scented candles and fresh bread/coffee on the go, and the walls look recently painted they could be hiding a damp issue
look at the electric breaker box, its a simple way of gauging if your likely to have to shell out on a rewire
I prefer to look at older houses that are nearing the point of redecoration, the warts are not hidden and shrinkage cracks are there to see, as well as subsidence issues
look at the roof, does it look in good nick etc, or is it in need of repair, another costly issue to do on moving in
Look at as many properties as you can, even if you think they won't be suitable. Both the flat and the house that I bought were only looked at as i was in the area looking at others, I didn't fancy either on paper. Look for obvious issues like subsidence, damp, poor roofing, rainwater goods condition etc. Also visit the property at different times of day if you like it, places can feel totally different at night. Look at practical issues especially storage space, number and position of electrical sockets etc. Look past fancy decor and look at practicalities (it's very easy to think it looks pretty so it must be a good house) and don't be put off if a bit of modernisation is required if the price/size/location etc is right.
Neighbours, neighbours, neighbours and neighbours.
Thanks! Would not have thought to check the water pressure or the breaker box.
Its hard to know if you're going to have noisy neighbours though when you're viewing houses in the afternoon and all is quiet. For a previous house that we considered bidding on, we did drive-bys at off-peak times to see if we could see anything odd. We didn't but how do we know the neighbours weren't having a quiet night?? I guess some things are never going to be apparent until you move in.
the neighbours one and how thin a party wall is is going to be a unknown, but you will see if your chosen spot attracts groups hanging out in the evening etc
A shared driveway would always be a slam-dunk no for me...there maybe good neighbours in there now but there may not be in the future...
location location location etc.
does it get sun? which way does the garden face? does that get sun?
nearby pub (noise, rowdiness), school (traffic, litter, noise), playground (ditto). Difficult road access/parking. Student neighbourhood? I like areas with lots of pensioners, they keep places tidy and don't party all night. But watch for TVs turned up to the max next door and objections to your noise.
local planning applications. Rumoured planning (read local papers) - these won't show on searches. Empty spaces are always vulnerable to being built on. Find out if there is a local development plan.
open all cupboards including airing cupboard, ask about boiler age/servicing. Look for iffy DIY, ropey painting. FENSA certificate for windows? Building regs for all heat generating devices/extensions?
why are they moving?
look for a but, as in 'lovely house,but...'. Will that 'but' make it difficult to resell?
Look at the house on googlemaps and google earth - is there anything in the vicinity that could be trouble. We bought our first house and didn't know it was on the direct flightpath for a small company airport until we saw (and heard) the daily 7am jet through our skylight window as we lay in bed the first morning after moving in. Thankfully there was just 2 flights a day but we made sure that when we came to sell that any evening viewings did not coincide with the 2nd flight of the day.
Also take a compass to check out the garden position - do you want to sit in your garden when you come back from work or will it be in total shade.
Where are the local shops for a pint of milk?
View as many as possible so you get a real feel for what your money will buy.
very good point about google earth; saw an interesting property, looked on GE and wondered 'what is that big area of concrete?'
turns out it is the local go-kart racing track...
Touch the walls for damp, send someone on to the roof to take a look at it for you.
My parents moved a lot. Before offering on a house my mum would always mark up the floor plan so 'london's bedroom' 'DB room' 'linen basket' 'study' etc. doing this for me ruled out a lot of houses!
Try and see beyond someone else's decor and clutter. You are not buying the furniture.
Yes, look out for obvious signs of disrepair, but if you have a survey done this should pick up things you can't spot.
Be cautious if it has been " done up to sell ". Even if everything is in good order, a coat of magnolia can add to the price!
Remember ...location, location, location.
Agree with those saying remember it is a home for you
I watch the property programmes and think 'Beautiful but........'
I like being really convenient for everywhere - but I know the train station at the end of the road and the busy road in front of our house would put some people off. In our house, that was a good thing, as we were able to buy a really big house we couldn't have afforded had it been somewhere quieter - for us, space was more important then quiet. For others, it would be the other way round.
I'd definitely agree with going at different times of day if you are able - is the rush hour a nightmare or parking during the day (by a Drs surgery, school, train station, shops or something) ~ but again, would that matter to you?
Also agree with trying to look at lots of properties. Yes, as it is often one you don't fancy 'on paper' that becomes 'the one' but also because you can see what different people have done with the basic house layout, and it gives you ideas.
Take your time walking round. When I second viewed a house I explained it would be a slow walk round, not just a poke your head in a room look. I had an actual list of stuff on a clipboard that I ticked off and wrote down comments on.
I looked a sealant in the bathrooms and kitchen. What can you see out the window when you are in the kitchen, sat on the sofa, propped up in bed?
Where do they stash the numerous wheelie bins?
Where do you hang your coat/put your shoes/hide your hoover/ironing board.
Imagine yourself coming home from work and doing all the things you normally do at home, in that house.
Definitely Google Earth a property before viewing. We made this mistake and put n offer in on one and then discovered power cables going over the garden.
Saw a gorgeous property on Friday and Google Earth showed a power substation behind the back garden!
If the house isn't detached, I would go to the neighbour's door and introduce yourself and ask a bit about the area. That will allow you to gauge the neighbours. I wish we had done that before we bought our flat - two second conversation would have shown just what a whack job she was and we would never have bought it lol.
Avoid houses next to schools or churches.
Oh and check age of boiler and double glazing. It doesn't mean you shouldn't buy a property that has older glazing or boiler but I wouldn't pay top money for it.
Yy to neighbours I brought a house on what I thought was a 'naice' street I've got ndn from hell and parking wars between other neighbours.
Neighbours, definitely - most of ours have been wonderful, but we've had a couple of really awful ones and it can make you very uncomfortable in your own home.
Damp, and also check the window frames - we moved into a house with (painted over) rotten ones - very expensive to replace.
Schools and churches (or other religious institutions) are fine if you're part of them, but can be hell if not.
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