What you need to watch out for when viewing a property

What you need to watch out for when viewing a property

Buying a property is the biggest purchase that most people make.  You may look at a lot of properties, and you may only get a short amount of time inside each one, so you want to make sure that there will be no surprises. Viewing a property is essentially your first step before you consider purchasing a property and therefore, the most important.

Obviously one of the things you’ll be doing is walking around the property imagining the rooms how you would want them, for example where a rug goes or what colour you would paint it. That’s important, but you need to walk around the property and look for any obvious signs of trouble.

Things to look out for when viewing a property:

  • Cracks in the walls – could be a sign of subsidence or poor workmanship
  • Discolouration on the walls – could be a sign of damp
  • Loose tiles on roof – could mean the roof is in disrepair
  • Mould – may be a sign of poor ventilation, particularly in bathrooms.
  • Broken windows – this may mean disrepair or subsidence
  • Uneven floors – can also be a sign of subsidence.

Don’t just stick to what you can see, but also consider what you can hear and smell.  For example, if the property smells damp, find out where the damp is coming from.  It could just be because the property has been empty for a while, and opening the windows will solve the problem.  On the other hand, if there is a very strong smell of things like air freshener, it might mean that the sellers are trying to cover up signs of damp.

Don’t panic if you do find any of these things.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy the property.  It does mean you can do some research to find out what the cost would be to carry out repairs, and then ask for that to be taken into account when you negotiate the purchase price. Please, however, remember that local authority searches do not cover any of the points above.

Ask the estate agent questions

What you need to watch out for when viewing a property Express ConveyancingLocal estate agents are a good source of information.  Ask them as many questions as possible.  Find out about the property in as much detail as you can.

Here is a list of the kinds of things you might want to ask.

  • How long has it been on the market? – the longer it’s been on the market, the more likely it is that the seller would negotiate on the price.
  • Why are they selling? – upsizing or downsizing are fairly standard reasons, but if they are moving to another area for reasons like work, they might be in a bit of a rush, which might also give you some ability to negotiate on price.
  • How long did the owner live here for? – if they are moving on after a very short period of time, you might want to find out more about their reasons for moving, to make sure it’s not because of a problem with the property, such as difficult neighbours.
  • Have the sellers found somewhere to move to?  If they haven’t, the transaction might be slow unless they are willing to go into rented accommodation.
  • What is included in the property?  Anything that’s built in, such as fitted cupboards in the kitchen and bathroom, will automatically be included in the price, but anything that is not fitted, such as a free standing oven or fridge, will automatically go with the sellers when they move out, unless you reach an agreement to keep it.  The estate agent should know what’s included and should help you negotiate on anything else that you want to have.

The estate agent might not be in a position to answer all of your questions, but you might find out information that might put you off or make you want to act quicker. You can also ask these from the agent as follow up questions, after viewing the property. If there has been a lot of owners but only for a short period of time you might be wondering why. You might also find out that the owner is selling because they are moving abroad, you can use this to your advantage by putting in an offer lower because they may just want a quick sale.

Ask the seller questions

What you need to watch out for when viewing a property Express ConveyancingYou might want to ask the seller the same questions that you ask the estate agent. In most cases, sellers will be available while you are viewing the property.  If you get the same answers, you can be reasonably certain that they are telling you the full story.  If you get different answers, it might make you question if there is a reason why you are being given inaccurate information.  It might just be a breakdown in communication, but it might mean someone is deliberately misleading you.

Tips for viewing a property

  • Check the property more than once
    There is no limit to how many times you can view a property. It is advised to visit at least twice.
  • Do not rush
    Take your time while viewing the property. Most estate agents provide a 30-minute slot, use the full time and you could even get there earlier to see what the neighbourhood is like!  If you want more time, just ask for it.
  • Check what is included within the property
    This may seem obvious when looking around the property but ensure you know exactly what you are looking at. The drive way might not be yours, or even the alleyway. Ensure you know exactly what the property includes. If you are not sure what is included ask the estate agent and they will be able to provide you with details.
  • Check the neighbourhood
    Spend time walking around the general area to see how close things are. For example, cafes, schools, transport links.   If schools are important to you, find out how easy it would be for you to get your children a place.Go to the property and surrounding areas at different times of the day or days of the week.  It might be lovely on a Saturday afternoon, but traffic may be horrendous on a weekday morning at just the time you need to leave for work. Have a look at what amenities are available.  Are there shops nearby.  Are there any parking restrictions that might affect you or people visiting you.  Are you close to a pub and if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing!

If you want to check the property again after one or two viewings, because you are interested in putting an offer in, go back and check it. Take a friend with you as they might spot something that you might not have seen.  You might want to take a tape measure with, to check that your furniture will fit in, or to see what size of curtains you will need.  If you think the property is going to need work, get your builder to go round and have a look, and give you an estimate before you commit yourself.

Once you are as certain as you can be that you know everything about the property that you need to know, you can start negotiating with the estate agent on price.  Even once your offer has been accepted, you can still go round and double check things or get your solicitor to check points with the sellers solicitor.

Viewing a property can be exciting and sometimes, a little bit daunting. Do not let this get to you. Have fun but also, do bear in mind the points we have set out on our guide.

Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information.  There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different.  If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.




What our clients say

Great value for money. Everything went smoothly and I was very pleased with the service provided
Rachel Whitfield
Rachel Whitfield
20:59 12 Oct 18
Excellent! Very responsive, and really helped to push the purchase. There were unexpected delays during the process, but Anthony really helped to reassure me that he was doing everything he could to progress the sale. Ultimately, it all worked out in the end, and I would highly recommend! I would also recommend for auction purposes.
Sean Stevens
Sean Stevens
09:14 21 May 18
Very happy customer. Understanding of our needs and recommended a really fantastic solicitor.
Jack Hearne
Jack Hearne
17:49 12 Oct 18
I have just completed the purchase of my flat with them. They were recommend by the estates agents Phillip Arnold and they were fantastic. My case was handled by Milena who was really helpful and always available on the phone. The online system is also really easy to use. If I buy or sell a property I will definitely be using them again.
Sharon Kelly
Sharon Kelly
18:27 20 Dec 17
I used this service following a recommendation. The online case tracker worked really well. I would recommend this service as it's vital in the coordination between Estate Agencies and between Solicitors. The service proved invaluable in helping progress the conveyancing work efficiently and effectively. Completed the transaction just before Christmas having instructed the Solicitors on the 4th.
Shelly Harrill
Shelly Harrill
16:30 19 Dec 17
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted.
A Google User
A Google User
14:26 19 Dec 18
Have used them twice. Both times completion happened in less than 4 weeks, even over Xmas! Totally amazing. They take the stress out of the whole process.
Daniel West
Daniel West
13:04 21 Dec 18
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted
Parsa Khamooshi
Parsa Khamooshi
15:54 21 Dec 18
Being a first time buyer they guided me smoothly through the whole process of moving into my first home. Very professional and economical.
Uday Seth
Uday Seth
12:31 24 Dec 18

Our News