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 home in no time. Ease yourself into the process by preparing in advance and looking at the important questions you should be asking to get the most out of your viewing experience.
In this guide, we will explain what you need to know to leave your property viewings as fully informed as possible by providing you with a room-by-room checklist and the questions you should ask your estate agent. Plus, we also explain the warning signs you must look out for during a house viewing, describing the symptoms of structural damage or damp that may require you to call in a chartered surveyor.
First on our house viewing checklist, is finding out the condition of the property. This section includes general questions you’ll want to ask 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. Here's a basic property viewing checklist for you to keep in mind when walking around the building:
The neighbourhood, the local schools and the overall feel of the area is as important as the house itself. Keep in mind the following questions when viewing a property so that you can determine if the local area suits you and your needs:
These are some of the finer points of the property viewing checklist that you'll need to consider when looking at your dream house:
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. Take note of the fixtures, counters and design as a whole when viewing the house. Here are the questions you should be asking when viewing the kitchen:
Bathrooms are an important part of any property, but they 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:
You'll spend a large amount of time in both the living room and the dining room so be sure to check them thoroughly. It's likely to be the area you redecorate and change to fit your own tastes after moving in, so here’s what to ask yourself:
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 rooms during the property viewing. Here's what you should consider:
If the property you're viewing has a garden, then there are a few points to keep in mind during the viewing like how much sun it will get, who owns it and what it contains. Whilst viewing the garden, here’s a checklist to consider:
Whilst you're viewing the garden, keep an eye out for things like plants that can damage your property, structural damage to outer buildings or general signs of neglect as the work needed may be rather significant if previously left unattended. Issues like Japanese Knotweed, ivy, large cracks or rotten structures, could be indicators that the garden needs more work than you're willing to provide.
Here, we’ve created a house viewing checklist of the main issues to keep in mind when walking through a property. These are points to consider across the entire house as many of the issues highlighted may be a sign of structural problems and require a property survey to dictate the extent of the damage. These include:
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. You can save yourself extra time and money by using Compare My Move’s free service to compare the most trusted surveyors in your local area.
Property viewings are all different and so there’s no set time for how long a viewing should last. However, in 2018, Terry’s Fabrics discovered that 22% of people in Britain spent 30 minutes or less on a house viewing - only 35% of people spent 2 hours or more at the property. They calculated that more than half of the 1,000 people surveyed, took longer to plan a holiday than view a property.
It’s important to inspect the property before committing to the purchase so that you have no regrets when it comes to moving in. You need to be absolutely sure that it’s the right house for you before committing to an offer. You may initially feel like rushing as you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but it's completely up to you.
Factors that could affect the length of time your house viewing takes include:
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 hint at the reason why. This is an important factor as knowing why the current owners are moving may be telling of serious issues. It may also help with negotiating the house price as if you find that the owners are selling due to job commitments for example, 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 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’ve missed or that other buyers have 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. Knowing the house's property chain can give an indication of the speed of the selling process.
4. What is included in the sale?
You need to know exactly what you’re buying. You may have fallen in love with the property’s garden and shed only to find that the owners are taking them with them. Make sure you find out exactly what fixtures and fittings are being 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 indicate a more serious problem.
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. In some cases, this applies to both the exterior and interior. 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 and the 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.
Finding a property you like can be very exciting, but it’s important not to get carried away. It’s good to view multiple properties before committing to a transaction as you need to compare houses to see which is worth the investment.
A study by the popular organisation Which? in January 2019, discovered that 39% of 1,200 home buyers viewed less than 5 properties before committing to a purchase. Even more shocking, 9% only viewed 1 property. It’s always tempting to rush into making an offer, but try to remember that this isn’t a decision to take lightly. Your home will hopefully be yours for a few years and so it’s important to ensure it’s the right fit.
By viewing different properties, you can compare furnishings, materials and property layouts to help you determine what you specifically want in a house. What you love in one property could be extremely different or better in another. It’ll help you inspect and view specifications that you may not have originally thought of.
You can even view multiple houses in the same street or area so that you can compare prices and see which one is actually worth investing in. You can compare specifications and calculate the difference in price to help you better understand the cost of homes in the areas that you’re interested in. It also ensures that you’re more prepared to make an offer and even negotiate on the price.
We've covered everything that you should be looking for during a house viewing in our property viewing checklist. But to go alongside this, we've also created a few top tips on how to get more information about the house and how to get the absolute best out of your viewing experience. Compare My Move's top tips for viewing a house are:
We hope this house viewing checklist has fully prepared you for your viewings. By being fully prepared, you'll get the most out of your short time looking around your 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 in your local area. Save up to 70% on your house removal costs with Compare My Move today.