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Essential viewing – what to look for when buying a house

Written by

Nigel Matthews


Published on

November 2, 2021

Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions and largest investments you will make in your lifetime. So why do some purchasers agree to buy after just one 20-minute viewing? Diners at a restaurant can spend more time in choosing what meal to have for dinner than others have taken when buying a house. For most, trusting their gut instinct will turn out just fine but for others a rash choice could turn their dream home into a disaster.

Nigel Matthews, Residential Property partner in our Crystal Palace office, gives us his quick guide of what to consider when viewing a property.

  1. The roof – Before stepping foot into the property, take a good look at the condition of the roof. Replacing it could cost thousands of pounds. Also check if the property has a flat roof and, if so, what material is used.
  2. Is the building structurally sound? Gaping cracks around the windows, down walls or where any extension joins, could indicate structural problems. Look for issues that you can highlight to the surveyor so they can investigate thoroughly.
  3. Recently decorated – Don’t be fooled by a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper. Concentrate on the structural aspect of the building.
  4. Damp issues – The tell-tale signs are a mouldy smell, flaking plaster or stained walls and ceilings. Always take a close look at the ceiling and skirting boards.
  5. Room sizes – Will all your existing furniture fit? One trick new build home developers sometimes use is to put smaller furniture in room to give the impression they are bigger than they actually are.
  6. Staging – Cleverly positioned mirrors, strategic lighting, beautiful aromas and a roaring fire are all subtle tricks used to make the house more appealing and give it that move straight in feel. But it can be a very different tale when the house is empty and all the furnishing have been removed.
  7. Storage space – This is a factor often overlooked but is invaluable. Is there room to store your coats, vacuum cleaner, ironing board, spare towels, linen and all the other junk you’ve amassed over the years?
  8. Plumbing – Have a look in the cupboards and under the sink and examine the pipework to see if they are insulated. Check for leaks, water damage, and mould. Also turn on the taps to check the water pressure. Ask for a condition check on the boiler and radiators and for any service documentation they may have.
  9. Plug sockets – A common complaint is the house doesn’t have enough power points, and the existing ones need replacing. Check the fuse box to see if it’s been replaced or if it is looking tired and old. Poor wiring can not only be expensive to replace but also dangerous.
  10. South-facing house and garden – On a gloomy winter’s day, it will be difficult to tell but it can be the difference between a home that’s full of light and warmth or depressingly dark. Take a compass with you to check.
  11. The attic – Not many people go into the attic until after the purchase has been completed but this could be used for valuable storage or be converted into an additional room. Also ensure it is well-insulation to reduce fuel bills.
  12. Strange smells – If there’s a whiff of sewage, gas or anything else equally as nasty it’s time to investigate. Sewage systems in older homes can sometimes get clogged or damaged by tree roots.
  13. Wrapped-up – A well-insulated house could save you a fortune. The attic, water pipes and heating ducts need to be properly insulated. Double-glazed windows can also save you money and also soundproof your home from outside noise.
  14. Touch everything – Switch every light on and off, fire up the cooker, central heating, open the windows, lift up mats and rugs, and even flush the toilet. Ensure everything is in good working order.
  15. Check out the land the house is built upon – Is the area prone to flooding, is it a shared driveway, are the boundaries in the correct position?
  16. What’s the area like? – Is the house close to a shop or pub that people may congregate at or attract rowdy behaviour? Is the house well-served by public transport or close to a school which would make parking at the school-run time a nightmare? Are the neighbours noisy, who regularly blast out loud music?.
  17. Use free online house sale price tools – Use websites such as Rightmove to obtain comparable house price information.
  18. Pose as many questions to the agent as possible and ask for answers in writing – You may wish to ask how old the boiler is for instance or when the property was last rewired. You can ask about neighbour disputes or any other issues that may be important to you when considering making an offer on the property.
  19. And finally… If you still like the house after these checks, arrange another viewing at a different time of the day. Perhaps take someone else with you to give a fresh opinion and perspective. Take photographs as a useful reference point (but check with the agent first).

If you are looking to buy or sell your home, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 020 8185 7458 for a free no obligation quote for our conveyancing services, or you can use our online quote system by clicking here.

About our Conveyancing team

Amphlett Lissimore is an established name within Property law. We have experienced conveyancing teams based across our offices in Crystal Palace, Bromley, and West Wickham, who specialise in this area of law. We have a proven track record of excellent customer service and will always endeavour to make the legal side of buying or selling property as stress free as possible for our clients. We have been accredited by the Law Society under its Conveyancing Quality Scheme, and our lawyers include members of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers and the Conveyancing Association.

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