Viewing a property you are thinking of buying

One of the key stages of buying a house is the viewing. However, it is not always easy to know what to look for, what questions to ask and how to make sure you have the full picture.

Viewing a house - be prepared

Before you go to look at a house, try to do as much background research as you can on the property and the area so that you do not waste time seeing something that does not meet your needs:

  • if possible, take someone else with you - preferably someone with different tastes - who may spot things that you miss
  • view the property in daylight when it will be easier to spot problems
  • if you really like a property, try to arrange to view it again at a different time of the day to give you a another perspective
  • it's your money you're spending - so don't be afraid to ask direct and blunt questions about the property
  • take your time, be nosey and don't be pressurised by the estate agent or vendor into making an offer
  • try not to view too many properties in one day

The house

Things to look for inside the house and questions to ask:

  • does the property need updating - if so how much will this cost
  • is the property in a conservation area or a listed building and could this restrict any future alterations
  • are the rooms big enough for your needs
  • what is included in the sale - for example land, garage, furniture, fittings
  • are the views good enough
  • what is the cost of rates and the average costs of utility bills such as electricity or gas
  • why are the sellers moving
  • does the house have full central heating and if so how old is it
  • how is the water heated
  • have there been any problems with the boiler and when was it last serviced by a skilled engineer
  • if there is a loft, has this been insulated and if so how long ago
  • does the property have cavity wall insulation
  • has the property been altered in any way and if so are the relevant planning and building control consents available to see
  • is there any sign of subsidence such as major cracks in the walls or the doors sticking
  • is there a smell of damp or any other sign such as the walls feeling damp, the wallpaper peeling/paint bubbling, watermarks or mould
  • do the window frames have cracking paint? (if you can press your finger easily into the wood it's rotten)
  • has the room recently been decorated and if so why (a problem might lie underneath)
  • how much storage space is there
  • are there enough power points and how old do they look
  • does it feel like it could be your home

Rates

To find out how much rates you will have to pay, you can use the following Land & Property Services (LPS) links to find the valuation of the property and the actual bill.

The location

You should also make sure the location meets your needs. Things to think about include:

  • nearby main roads, pubs, clubs or restaurants - they can be handy, but also noisy
  • nearby railway lines or overhead flight paths
  • the feel of the community - does it seem friendly
  • the aspect of the house - does it get enough light
  • is the property well maintained
  • the age of the property
  • garden size
  • the condition of nearby properties
  • how good or near is the public transport
  • are the local schools good
  • are there any known plans for development in the area
  • what are the local amenities like - such as shops, hospitals, leisure facilities
  • what is the crime level like in the area
  • what are the neighbours like, are they noisy
  • has there ever been a dispute with the neighbours (or anyone living nearby)

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