What to look for when viewing a house
Make house hunting so much easier with the The Expert Gate Company’s guide on what to look for when viewing a house. Treat this as your ultimate checklist to give you more confidence when searching for your dream home.
Damp and mould
Look out for signs of mould and damp. If you see lots of cracks in the walls and bubbles of paint, it’s not looking good. Do take the time to check every room and interior wall, and don’t be afraid to ask if you can move things out of the way to check walls. You don’t want any nasty surprises after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, the unpredictable British weather and flooding can ruin properties that are vulnerable. So, it’s worth factoring this and checking the flood risk of your area. Does the property live close to or on a bank? Is the area dipped, formed like a bowl, prone to flooding or has it got blocked grids and drains? Do you know of any recent or past flooding incidents in the area?
Brickwork and the roof
Don’t forget about the exterior walls and brickwork. Things to look out for are if the brickwork doesn’t line up, cracks, missing concrete, and debris on the floor. You need a strong foundation and structure, so take the time to check the outside and the roof. Again, check for anything on the floor like slates and debris. Weather here can change drastically and we’re no stranger to storms and harsh weather, so look out for signs of structural damage and weakness.
The local area
Depending on your lifestyle and plans for the future, you should look at the nearby schools. See about the local amenities and how far away they are. Try to suss out what kind of area it is and whether there’s been a lot of crime. If the area is on a neighbourhood watch scheme, this may indicate that, but not necessarily. It would be worth having a look around the street and surrounding area to see how inviting it is, whether there’s a lot of damage, any signs of arson, crime, burglary etc. If you see signs of a few break-ins, boarded up windows, damaged cars and local shops with cracked windows, then consider those red flags. They say it’s better to aim for the worst house on the best street than the other way round; you can fix up a house, but you can’t change the area.
Good for families?
Whether you’re moving as a family or have future plans for one, you should consider if the property will be ready when the time comes. You may want more space for storage, a play room or extra bedrooms to accommodate family additions. It may be important to you to have a big garden with a high level of driveway security. Are there local parks and playgrounds, and is the area safe? Visit as many times as possible and walk around the local area to try and see what the neighbourhood is like, or if any other families live there.
This may be tricky, but do try to get a feel for how the neighbours are. Estate agents are always going to be biased, as they’re trying to sell to you, so anything they say about the area or neighbours may not be completely reliable, and they may not know anyway.
Again, take some time to have a look around and visit the area as much as you can to pick up on anything and choose different times of the day. You could walk past on a Saturday night or even late on to see if they’re noisy or blasting music. The more times you can walk around, the better sense you’ll get about the street and neighbourhood. You could also speak to other neighbours to get the lowdown on your potential new street.
Drains and gutters
Check that there are enough drains in the garden for when it rains, especially for those long wet spells in winter. Many houses and gardens build up swamps from poor drainage, so try to view the house on a cold and rainy day, or walk past to see.
If you can, try to view the house on a sunny day so you can see how much lighting you will get. Even better, you could try to view in the late afternoon to see how much sun your garden gets and to look for how shaded it may get – especially if you’re keen on being out in the garden for as long as possible.
Freehold or leasehold
It depends on what will work for you when it comes to a freehold or leasehold property. Freehold properties do tend to be houses, whereas leaseholds typically are flats. With freehold, you own the property and land it sits on, unlike leasehold. This means for a leasehold property, you can redecorate, but you’ll be limited when it comes to structural changes and will have renting restrictions e.g. you may not be allowed to have pets.
The potential of the property
You may have plans to rent out your property or there could be potential for an extension. You may want to consider hosting it as an Airbnb in the future. This means checking if all the rooms could fit a bed in and are a good size for habitants. If there’s good outdoor and garden space, you’ve got more room readily available for any potential extension plans. If there aren’t already, you could also plan for better driveway security with driveway gates.
Radiators match the size of rooms
You don’t want to be hit with expensive heating bills, so check that radiators match the room size, especially if a room has a small window that hardly gets any sun in, meaning you’ll be using heating even more.
Does the property provide a safe environment for your pets? Or maybe you plan to have some in the future. For outdoor cats, will there be good places for cat flaps? Is the area near a busy road? If you have a dog, is the area good for dog walks?
Unplugged utilities with signs
Check around for any utilities that have been unplugged or with signs on them, as this could be indication of repossession.
Go off floor plans
It’s essential that you do your own research, and don’t take what estate agents say as gospel. Go off floor plans and what you see. It’s why it’s important to really check everywhere and to have a checklist, so you know what you’ve covered.
No matter what your plans are, the main thing to think about when viewing a house is the potential for the future. As long as the space, area and property is right for you or your family, you can always add on to it, as there’s always more you can do to make a house your own or to increase its security; that’s where we’re on hand. If you need any help, come to The Expert Gate Company any time, we’re only a call away.