How to make the most of a house viewing
If you think too hard about a house viewing it can all of a sudden seem pretty daunting – particularly if you’re a first-time buyer. Your home is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, yet you’ll only actually see it once or twice for 20 minutes or so before putting down… All. That. Money.
Fear not. The trick is to remain level-headed. We’ve provided some advice below, but try not to overthink every point. After all, a viewing should be enjoyable – this could end up being your new home!
The most important piece of advice is probably also the biggest cliché you’ll hear in this guide: go into every viewing with your eyes open.
Be sure to look behind the curtains. And any strategically placed mirrors. Clever lighting can trick the eye. Delicious smells can fool the senses. Calming music can mask a busy road…
The point is, staging is one of the oldest tricks in the book – but it works on so many people. Beware those fresh licks of paint.
The expensive stereo, fancy photo frames and gorgeous kitchen gadgets… will all be leaving the house with the current owner. It’s easy to be wowed by material goods, but it’s the bricks and mortar that require your attention.
Equally, the gaudy floral wallpaper, stained bed sheets and avocado green bathroom suite can all be changed if they’re not to your liking. You may come away from the viewing with a strong feeling about the place, but try to separate aesthetics from the things that matter.
Keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale evidence of damp. Firstly, there’s that smell. Secondly, there’s the discolouration and patches. Thirdly, it’ll almost certainly be hidden behind sofas, cupboards or anything else put in place to disguise it – so look hard. Damp can often be resolved, but it can also be a costly and expensive nightmare. Decide if it’s something you can handle.
Cracked walls are another thing to watch out for. Most old houses have a few, which is often fine. New builds can have thin settlement cracks, which is perfectly normal. It’s the larger cracks you need to be wary of – make sure a surveyor sees them.
Looking for damp and cracks may seem like the kind of obvious advice you’d get from your parents. Unfortunately, there’s a reason they’re right. Again.
Those know-it-all parents? Take them with you. Or a good friend. Or even a close colleague. An extra pair of eyes can be invaluable, especially as they won’t have the same emotional attachment to the process that you do. Ask them to point out the positives and negatives – you’ll want a balanced view.
View twice. Three times, if you’re able to. Each time you’ll notice something different. Try to see the property at different times of the day, too. That sun-soaked first visit will seem quite different on a gloomy evening…
Also, ask as many questions as you can – and feel free to reiterate them each time you go to make sure you get the same answers. If the estate agent or owner can’t answer your query there and then, politely ask them to find out at a later date. Leave no stone unturned. Make a list if you have to, so you don’t get excited on the day and forget them.
‘Why are you selling?’ ‘How long has the property been on the market?’ ‘What are the neighbours like?’
Step out and inspect the garden and any other outdoor areas. Are they well looked after? Will they need maintenance? Are the boundaries defined? Double-check which way the house faces while you’re out there. Which rooms get the light? Are you bothered if the garden isn’t always in the sun?
When you’re done admiring the garden, look up. See if the roof needs any obvious work. Then walk off. Leave. Go and see what the rest of the road and neighbouring streets are like. Pop into a shop and ask them what the area’s like if you’re unfamiliar with it.
There’s so much to take in that you may end up forgetting most of the detail – so pull out your smart phone and snap away. Get as many photos as you can because their reality will differ greatly from the beautifully presented images listed with the property. They’ll be good to refer to later. Oh, and take a tape measure. Make notes. If you’ve any existing furniture, you’ll want to know it fits!
The material contained in this document is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.
You should obtain relevant legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this document.
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