Are you looking to relocate? Perhaps you’re looking to buy your first house? This might be your first time living alone, and by extension, attending property viewings alone too. It’s important you know what to look for before you even think about going to view a potential property; whether that’s having a mental checklist or something on paper to tick off as you go.
Knowing what is important to you, what potential red flags may look like and having a clear idea of what you want to get out of your new place is all too important in ensuring you make an informed and mindful decision about your new home. After all, buying a house is no small feat, it’s a huge financial investment and commitment.
It’s likely that nowhere is going to tick every box, especially if it’s your first place; there will likely be a few compromises to be made. However, getting all the information can help you when thinking about putting in an offer.
So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key things you should keep in mind when viewing a potential property…
Location, location, location
Location is one of the most important factors to consider when thinking about a new property. Not only is the location going to affect the value of the property, both now and in the future if you want to sell, but location is going to positively impact your daily life on levels you might not even think of at first.
Ask yourself two questions: is the location desirable? Is the location practicable?
The neighbourhood of the property you’re viewing is one of the most deciding factors for most individuals in the buying process. What is the surrounding area? Are the streets clean and well maintained? What is the local reputation of the area like?
Areas notorious for being quiet and surrounded by nature trails and open-spaces tend to have properties with higher values.
These location-based factors are often overlooked on initial viewings and are only realised once you’ve actually moved in. If you have kids, or plan to, are there any local schools? What are the nearby facilities like or are there any nearby facilities at all? How long of a commute is it to work? Is there easy access to public transport?
All these factors will affect your daily life and routine once you’ve moved into the new property.
A properties size and layout is going to be another important factor. The property size itself needs to meet your needs and the layout should flow so it feels as if this space could really be turned into a home. You’ll want enough space for anything you’re planning on bringing with you, such as furniture, as well as enough space for any future ambitions you might have, such as getting a pet or starting a family. Perhaps in a few years you’d like to knock a wall or two down, or build an extension? Not only will you have to think about whether that will work with the properties layout, but also check the planning permission regulations.
Does the property have any period features that are going to need maintaining such as a larger fireplace, wooden beams or a thatched roof? These costs, although not regular, are going to be things you’ll need to budget for and can be expensive as they require trained specialists to carry out.
If you do own a car, check that the properties blueprints include a parking space, or at least the potential to buy a parking space. The last thing you’d want is to move in, only to be greeted with a big yellow ticket and pricey fine on your front window days after. That certainly isn’t the warmest of welcomes!
Finally, take a look at the garden. If you have neighbours, you’ll want to check you’re not being overlooked. If you are thinking of building a conservatory, is there space to do this? What way is the garden facing? South-facing gardens get more sun which might be better if you anticipate spending time in the garden in warmer months, or growing plants.
The Property’s integrity
One of the most vital aspects you should thoroughly investigate is the property’s condition as any faults are going to require maintenance costs and time, as well as having potential implications on your day to day life, safety and health.
Check each room
Are you the electrics and switches functioning as they should? (This is more than just whether they work or not, but are they safe with no exposed wires?) If the decor is dated, or has been neglected, such as wall-paper peeling or damaged floorboards, this is going to be an additional future expense so it’s worth noting too.
Are there signs of damp, mould or condensation in the rooms? If you can’t initially see it, it’s worth seeing if you can smell it. This can be problematic as it can weaken the properties foundations and also be harmful to health. Dealing with damp problems as well as installing double-glazing for future prevention, can be an expensive ordeal.
Windows and doors
What are the windows and doors like? If this is a period property, you’ll want to consider that these features might need specialist experts to help maintain and/or replace them.
In addition, you’ll want to check whether windows and doors are single or double-glazed. Double-glazed windows and doors are far more thermo-efficient, which is going to help with keeping heating bills lower, especially during the current cost of living crisis when energy bills are sky high.
Plumbing problems can be a pain and hard to identify if you’re not an experienced plumber. It’s worth asking the estate agent about potential plumbing problems, or bringing someone along with you on your viewing to help inspect these areas.
You’ll want to be looking out to see whether or not simple things like the taps and showers are working properly? How long does it take for hot water to come through? Do the bathrooms have windows to help prevent damp and condensation, and if not are there extractor fans?
It’s always worth finding out about the type of water that will be running through your tap. As simple google of the water-type in the properties location, but the estate agent should also be able to tell you if the water is hard or soft.
The bricks and mortar
You’ve checked the inside of the house; all looks good! But, what about the outside? You’ll want to be looking at the roofing and brickwork of the property as any issues with these areas are going to cause major problems down the road and be expensive to resolve.
What is the general condition or age of the property like? Are there any noticeable cracks in the brick work? Are there missing tiles on the roof? Do the drains and gutters all work as they should, or are there bits that will need immediate attention in order to ensure they drain water properly when it rains?
Don’t overlook the little things
Some important points that many forget to consider are things like the house’s heating system, mobile coverage and broadband, however it’s likely that these are going to be important aspects of your day to day life and can extremely impact your enjoyment in your new property.
Check to see if insulation has been installed and whether the heating system in place is electric or gas? Will it require topping up via a metre? Are there radiators and are they working properly? Where is the boiler located and when was it last serviced?
You should also consider if there are burglar alarms or fire alarms and if these are too running in line with government standards. If you’re late on a fire alarm service or replacement, this could result in costly fines.
Finally, what council tax coverage is the property located in? Compare this to nearby or similar properties you’ve viewed to see if you’re getting a better or worse deal.
Preparation is key
Coming prepared to view with a thorough understanding of what to look out for, what indicates potential problems and needs more investigation, and ultimately a clear idea of what you want from your new property, both now and in the future, is key. In doing so you’re diminishing the risk of having to pay expensive replacement or maintenance costs to fix issues that you looked over. Not only is being prepared going to save you money and time in the long run, it will also improve your overall experience in the property if you’re not constantly running into new problems.
Ensuring the house is both suitable for your current lifestyle, as well as where you see yourself in 5, 10 years time, means that you can really start to make this house a home and it will serve you well until you feel you’re ready to move on.
We always recommend you bring someone you can trust a long for a second opinion who knows you well. It’s also recommended to get a professional independent survey done to identify potential problems.
Does this all sound overly complicated and like too much to think about? Don’t sweat it, here at Henley Charles we have a team of experienced and dedicated estate agents on hand to help advise you and support you in your property journey.
Our estate agents are under legal obligation to be fully transparent with you about all the properties we put on the market and give you all the information on a property and why it is being sold. We’re happy for you to ask as many questions as you want to, and if we can’t give the answer straight away, we will be in touch as soon as possible with an answer and further advice should you need it.
At Henley Charles, you dictate the viewing, not us. Our mission is to work with you to find you the best property that you can truly make your own space and will work for you for years to come. We pride ourselves on providing a personable service, a stress-free process and 24/7 online support and management.
So, if you’re looking for houses for sale in Erdington or houses for sale in Handsworth and think you need some help finding your perfect property, why not get in touch?. One of our friendly estate agents will be on hand to help answer any questions and sort out the next steps.