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The Ultimate House Viewing Checklist

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
14th June 2018 (Last updated on Monday 10th September 2018)

House hunting shouldn't be a struggle, and with Compare My Move's ultimate house viewing checklist you'll be ready to explore your dream house. In this guide we explain all you need to know to leave your house viewing fully informed with our room-by-room checklist and questions to ask your estate agent. Plus, we explain the warning signs to look out for during a house viewing, signs of structural damage or damp that may lead to calling in a chartered surveyor.

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This article will cover the following points

General House Viewing Checklist Room-by-Room House Viewing Checklist Garden Viewing Checklist Warning Signs During Your House Viewing House Viewing Tips Questions to Ask Download Your House Viewing Checklist Taking the Next Step

General House Viewing Checklist

This section includes general questions you’ll want to keep in mind to gauge the overall suitability of the house you’re viewing. This will help you develop your opinion of the property ahead of a more detailed room-by-room checklist.

House Viewing Checklist

Here's a general house viewing checklist for you to keep in mind when walking around the property.

    • Are the doors secure, and are windows double glazed?
    • How old are the electrics, plumbing, and central heating system?
    • Is there a burglar and smoke alarm system?
    • Is the building listed or in a conservation zone?
    • Is it big enough? Will all your furniture fit?
    • Is there an attic? Is it suitably insulated? (Take a torch just in case there isn't a light.)
    • Do you have mobile phone coverage throughout the house?
    • Is there enough storage and power sockets?
    • Does it have planning permission granted for any future changes?
    • Has there been any recent work done to the property that is still under warranty?
    • Does it have parking?
    • Will the house need renovation to meet your expected standard?
    • Can you fit your car in the garage?

    The Area Around the House

    The neighbourhood, the local schools, and the general feel of the area is as important in many cases as the house itself. Keep in mind the following questions: 

    • What are nearby schools like?
    • Are there good transport links?
    • Is it noisy?
    • Where is the nearest supermarket?
    • Are there any plans for new developments?
    • What is the crime rate?
    • What is parking on the immediate vicinity like?
    • Do the neighbours seem pleasant?

    Extra Details to Consider

    These are some of the finer points you'll need to consider when looking at your dream house:

    • How much is the council tax?
    • Internet connection speeds in the area?
    • Is it lease or freehold?
    • If leasehold, is there a ground rent?
    • Is there a property chain?
    • What is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of the property?

    Room-by-Room House Viewing Checklist

    The Kitchen

    The kitchen tends to be one of the most renovated parts of a house, and you certainly shouldn't settle for a sub-par cooking area. 

    • What fixtures and fittings are included in the sale (counters, refrigerators)?
    • Are all fitted cupboards in good condition? Remember to check inside.
    • Are the taps and drains functioning? 
    • Are the built-in kitchen appliances such as oven and extractor fan working?
    • Will the kitchen be professionally cleaned before you move in?
    • Is there any sign of damp or mould underneath the sink?

    The Bathroom

    Bathroom are an important part of a property, but can sometimes be neglected in terms of renovation. A poorly maintained bathroom can cause all sorts of problems within a house, so keep the following in mind:

    • Is there adequate ventilation?
    • Do all hot water taps work?
    • Are there any signs of mould or mildew? 
    • Is the silicon sealant still water tight?
    • Is the bath panel loose? Is there signs of rot underneath?
    • What is the water pressure like?
    • Does the toilet flush?

    Living Room and Dining Room

    You'll spend a large amount of time in both the living room and dining room, and it's likely to be the area you redecorate and change to fit your own tastes soon after moving in.  

    • How much light does the room get?
    • Is there textured wallpaper or ceiling plaster?
    • Is the wall behind sofas and counters clean and smooth?
    • Any unsightly wall mounts?
    • Is the fireplace functioning?
    • Are there enough radiators and wall plugs?
    • Are the carpets in good condition?

    Bedrooms

    These private spaces are likely to be redesigned to fit your personal tastes and style, so it's worth concentrating on the quality and size of the room as a whole.

    • Is there enough storage?
    • Is the flooring, carpet and wallpaper in good condition?
    • Are the rooms well ventilated?
    • Is there any sign of mould or mildew?
    • Is the size adequate?
    • Are curtains and fittings included in the sale?

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    Garden Viewing Checklist

    If the property you're viewing has a garden, there are a few points to keep in mind, ranging from how much sun it will get, who owns it, and what it contains.

    • Is the garden private or shared?
    • Where are the boundaries?
    • Which way is the building positioned? What time of day does the garden get the sun?
    • Will the seller be moving parts of the garden such as pots and trees?
    • Will the garden take a lot of effort to maintain?
    • Are there any large trees dominating the garden?
    • Is there a clear divide between the garden and neighbour?
    • Do neighbouring houses overlook the garden?
    • If there is a shed, is it in working condition?
    • Do hedges overhang pavements or roads? Are they the homeowner's responsibility to maintain?

    Garden Warning Signs

    There are a few parts of the garden that should immediately flag up warning signs.

    • Japanese Knotweed is big trouble as it can force its way through foundations, drains and walls, and generally requires a specialist to remove completely. If you spot the bamboo-like plant, you may want to think twice about this garden.
    • Oak, poplar and willow trees should make you wary if they are too close to the property, on account of the roots causing damage to foundations and drains.
    • Pine trees need to be watched if they overhang cars or patios, as they secrete a sticky sap which falls in summer and spring.
    • Common Ivy is likely to cause structural damage by penetrating cracks in your masonry, not to be confused with harmless Virginia Creepers.

    For advice on how to identify troublesome plants and for ways to deal with them, read our guide to plants that can damage your property.

    Warning Signs During Your House Viewing

    Here we go through the main issues to keep an eye open for during your house viewing. These are points across the house to keep an eye on, as many of the issues highlighted here may be a sign of structural issues.

    • Are there any cracks or signs of subsidence? Major cracks could be a sign of structural movement, which will mean hiring a structural expert to assess the issue. Major structural movement will result in costly damage control and constant monitoring.
    • Can you see or smell damp, mould or mildew in the house? Keep a keen eye out for any signs of damp, especially in older homes. In many cases this is easily managed, but you'll want to arrange for a specialist damp survey to properly assess the situation. Damp proofing may prove costly and may affect your choice.
    • Is the roof in a good condition? Does it dip in any points? Roofing is expensive to replace, and a poorly maintained roof can lead to structural and damp issues down the line.
    • Is the roof flat? Though a cheaper option, flat roofs won't last as long as a pitched roof, so keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear.
    • Is the property at risk of flooding? Speak to your estate agent about whether the property is on a flood plain, but keep an eye out for running water nearby.
    • Are the drains and gutters modern and functioning? Avoid stagnant, pooling water by keeping a keen eye on the drain pipes and guttering during your home viewing.
    • Do windows and doors open and close easily? Warped frames can be a sign of structural movement, or at the very least mean replacing windows and doors.
    • Are the taps and shower working? Check all the taps to highlight low water pressure.

    Picking up on any potential issues early may save you from a huge cost a few years down the line, and of course might make you reconsider the property entirely. Generally, if you pick up on any of these issues during your house viewing, you'll want to arrange a specialist property survey to gauge its severity and decide on a course of action. This will likely cost a few hundred pounds, but may save you thousands in the long run if huge issues are highlighted. Plus, any issues will inform a counteroffer and the potential for a lower house price. You can use Compare My Move to get connected with up 4 RICS accredited Surveyors to save time and money on your property survey.

    You can find out more information on what a detailed survey may find wrong with a property in our guide to common issues found in a property survey.

    House Viewing Tips

    We've covered everything that you should be looking for around the property, so here are a few top tips on getting the best out of your house viewing.

    • View the property at different times of the day. If possible, arrange for a second viewing at a different time of day so you can get a feel for the property throughout a normal day.
    • Explore the area at different peak times. Walk around the area in the morning, during afternoon commuting hours, and evening. This will ensure that traffic and noise is manageable at all times.
    • Never view a property alone. Always go with an agent and bring a partner, family member or friend along to the viewing. A second opinion is always helpful as they will spot things you don't.
    • Take your time. Don't feel rushed during your house viewing, take your time to really take in the property. Don't be afraid to split off from the estate agent for a walk around.
    • Take lots of photographs. You'll likely be viewing a range of houses, so keep everything fresh in your mind by taking photos throughout the viewing (it's courteous to ask permission of course).
    • Explore your potential commute. Perform a dry-run of your commute to work to assess traffic and timings.
    • Drive around the area. Get a feel for the safety of the area by driving around the streets. 
    • Put together a list of questions. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time to ask the seller or estate agent so you're fully prepared.

    Questions to Ask During Your House Viewing

    1. Why is the house being sold?

    Your estate agent doesn't have to tell you exactly why the owners are selling, but they can give you hints as to the reason. This is an important factor, as knowing why the current owners are moving may be telling. If you find that the owners are selling due to job commitments, they might be in a rush to sell and accept a lower offer.

    2. How long has the property been on the market?

    If you find out the house you want has been on the market for over three months, ask your estate agent why they think it hasn't sold. It could suggest there is a problem you have missed or other buyers have spotted and avoided.

    3. When do the sellers have to move out?

    Ask your estate agent if the sellers have found a new home yet. If they have, they may want to sell as quickly as possible, and may even accept a lower offer from you.

    4. What is included in the sale?

    If you're buying a house, you need to know exactly what you are buying. You may have fallen in love with the garden and shed only to find that the owners are taking them to their new house! Make sure you find out exactly what fixtures and fittings are being taken and left behind.

    5. How many times has the property changed hands?

    If the property has had several owners within a short space of time, it could be an indication of a more serious problem with the house.

    6. How was the asking price decided?

    No one wants to pay more than they should for a house. A good estate agent will justify exactly why they chose the specific asking price. That being said, do your own research and compare the house you want to the price of other properties in the area and decide if you think the value is worth it.

    7. Is the property listed?

    Buying a listed property can restrict you if you had plans to renovate in the future. This applies to both the exterior as well as the interior in some cases. If the property is in a conservation area, find out what restrictions apply to it. Check out our guide on listed property surveys for what to expect from maintaining a listed house.

    8. Ask about the local neighbourhood

    The area you move to is just as important as the property. If you don't enjoy where you live, it's going to impact how much you enjoy living in your new home.

    Ask your estate agent about what the schools are like, crime rates, as well as the transport links. That being said, you should also do your own research and take a tour of the local parks, cafes, pubs and shopping centres to familiarise yourself.

    Download Your House Viewing Checklist

    Subscribe to Get our Free House Viewing Checklist
    Subscribe to our moving house newsletter & we'll send you our free room-by-room House Viewing Checklist

    Taking the Next Step

    We hope this house viewing checklist has fully prepared you for your flurry of viewings. By being fully prepared ahead of your viewing, you'll get the most out of your short time looking around you potential new home.

    When all is done and you've chosen your new home, remember to use Compare My Move to save time and money on your house removal costs. Just fill in a quick and easy form, and get connected with up to 6 professional removal companies. Save up to 70% on your house removal costs with Compare My Move.