Buyers typically only spend an average of 8 to 15 minutes
viewing a property. If you’re interested in a home, take this
checklist along with you. Looking carefully at the start could
save you wasted fees and repairs later on.
Look for signs of damp on the ceiling, in the corner
of rooms, under window sills and doors
Peeling wallpaper and brown stains on the walls and
ceilings are signs of leaks
Check for a musty smell particularly in cellars and
Look for condensation on windows
See if there is a damp proof course near ground level
outside and ask when it was done.
Lift rugs and mats to check whether the floor
boards are sound. Inspect window frames, sills and door steps for signs of rot
Ask to see the loft so you can check the rafters and
timbers. If it’s daylight, look for chinks of light or
cracks in the roof.
Inside, look for cracks in the walls and ceilings. Hairline cracks
are common, but if they’re big enough to insert a 10p piece there
could be an underlying problem.
Outside, inspect the roof, if possible. Are there missing or slipped
tiles? Are the gutters clean and stable? Are the drains clear?
Make sure the flashings (the lead trim on the roof) and the fascias
(the wooden section under the roof) are secure and in good
Look at the outside walls. Most old buildings have some cracks
in the brickwork, but is the pointing (the mortar between the
bricks) missing in places?
Are any of the outside walls bowed?
Look at the state of any chimneys and whether they
have hoods on them
Is the wiring outside secure?
Look at the space to see how well it’s used. Try to imagine you
and your belongings in there
Find how many square feet/metres there are on the floor plans
and divide this into the price to see how it compares to similar
sized properties in the area
Check whether the overall size of the property includes the cellar,
garage and outbuildings if there are any
How secure is it? Doors and windows need good locks to meet
Ask to test the alarm system and smoke alarm if they have them
Turn on taps, flick switches and flush toilets to see how they work
Open and close doors and windows to see if they
stick. Do the same with drawers and cupboard doors, particularly
in the kitchen
Look at how much built-in storage there is and whether there’s
room for more cupboards
In new show homes the furniture is often smaller than normal to
maximise the feeling of space
Check there are enough power sockets, phone and TV points
See if you have mobile phone reception inside the house
Is there any exposed wiring?
Ask if any of the chimneys are open and working
Woodchip or other textured wallpaper may be hiding problems
and can pull off old plaster with it when it’s stripped
Ask how and when the central heating boiler was last serviced
and how old it is. If the heating’s off, ask the seller to turn it on to
see how fast it heats up. Check radiators for rust and make sure
they warm up evenly.
Check for signs of subsidence and heave, particularly if
there are large trees nearby.
If there’s a garden, look for signs of landslip
Ask if it’s been flooded and put in the postcode on the
Environment Agency’s flooding map.
What are the parking restrictions if you can’t park on your land
and how difficult is it to find parking?
Look at the state of neighbouring properties and speak to
neighbours if you can.
Walk around the area to see how close the transport links,
schools, parks and other facilities are.
The property details should tell you whether it is leasehold, freehold
or share of freehold
If it’s leasehold, the longer the better. Anything under 80 years
could be difficult to sell on
Check the charges – ground rent, service charge and buildings
insurance. Is there a contingency or sinking fund for expensive
repairs, such as the roof?
What are the communal areas like and is there shared or exclusive
Are there any shared services such as heating, lighting or drainage?
Try to visit when the neighbours might be home to check on the
noise from a flat above, below or beside you
Ask about restrictions such as having pets or hardwood floors,
which can be annoying for your neighbours.
Find out how much Council Tax you’ll pay and the band the
property is in
Have there been any neighbour disputes?
Ask if you can take pictures on your mobile to help you
Take the floorplan with you and mark up power points and
supporting walls in rooms
If the seller is in when you visit, find out if they’ve found another
property yet and whether their seller has found a
new home. It’s useful to know if you’ll be in a long chain.
Questions for the estate agent
UK Property viewing -Checklist
You need some key bits of information from the seller’s estate agent to get an idea of what you may be paying for.
Ask for the following as a basic information list:
The total floor area of the property: this is the basic information to work out what you are really getting.
How much of that space is living space: largely that means the total area of the rooms, but does not include cloakrooms,
cubbyholes, space under stairs, lobbies, halls and corridors. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has noted that the
average UK house size has shrunk 40% in the past 80 years. You need to ensure that you are getting the living space you
need and not paying for too much non-living space.
Size of bedroom: ask for the actual size of that room: a single bed in its frame is likely to measure at least 2m x 1.20m.
Make sure that this fits into the room, together with the other bedroom furniture like a chest of drawers, wardrobe, chair(s).
The ‘home energy performance rating chart’: this is similar to the ones you see on electrical goods. The chart tells you
about the current performance of the house, and what the potential performance is. Think about any property alterations
and budget you’d need to put aside, to improve a low energy performance.
If you are buying a house, ask about the actual plot size: (rather than being told it is ‘average’ or ‘large’) and what the
cost per square metre is. From this you can work out the actual cost of the house, and the cost of your plot.
Research online what price similar houses have sold for in the area: if the house you are interested in is very different
from recent sale prices, ask the estate agent why. Is there a problem with the house? Or is the seller asking too much?
Use online tools to find out the difference between asking price and selling price in the area you are looking at.
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