Buying a new property is rarely a straightforward transaction. You need to find the right home that you and your family can be happy in, so there is much to consider before you put pen to paper and part with your money. The viewing stage is extremely important, so you need to know what to look for.
If you’re uncertain what to look for when buying a house, we’ve compiled this helpful guide to highlight the key points. The things we discuss could end up saving you time and money. If you have any further questions, you can always give Think Plutus a call or an email and we will endeavour to answer them.
Look up when you’re outside the property
It is very wise to take a look at the roof from street level, but many people forget to do this. Obviously, you won’t be able to go over it with a fine-toothed comb from here, but you’ll be able to spot any missing tiles or even worse problems.
It will also give you an idea of whether the roof look quite new by comparing it to the surrounding properties. A new, well-laid roof is a good thing for avoiding expensive repairs, and it can lower the cost of your home insurance premiums too.
Using your smartphone camera can be a useful way of helping remember a specific property when you’ve been to view a few. Ask the estate agent first if it will be ok, but don’t feel like you’re taking any liberties. Many sellers will be glad to let you do anything you like if it increases your chances of making an offer.
Look out for suspicious cracks
A survey will identify any major problems, but you may be able to spot clues yourself without having to pay for the surveyors. Look out for large cracks in walls and ceilings, particularly close to areas that will come under stress or may move away from the main property.
If you see extensions, bay windows or end-of-terrace walls, these are important places to check. Small, hairline cracks are quite normal, but more pronounced gaps are a cause for concern. Take note of any that you spot. Paying to have a house survey conducted may seem like an optional expense, but they can be an invaluable resource, particularly for older properties.
Are there signs of damp?
Damp is not a problem you want to take on – removing it and having the damage repaired can be expensive and frustrating. Don’t just rely on your eyes when searching for signs of damp – your nose can be important too. The presence of damp can often be smelled before it is seen, and ignoring it is a huge mistake.
Visual clues can be big giveaways, but it pays to get in close and check rooms top to bottom. Both ceilings and skirting boards are common places where damp first appears, sp give them a little extra attentions, particularly on external-facing walls.
Don’t be fooled by a fresh paint job
A newly-decorated property always looks more attractive than a dusty, dull room, but you must resist the temptation to let it sway you. Paint is a good way to hide many issues, so you should question the reasons for a room being recently decorated.
A smart bit of brushwork can temporarily hide both damp and structural issues, so keep it in mind during the viewing. You may prefer not to decorate a place yourself, but a little painting is far less work than having to deal with major issues that are hidden behind a bit of paint.
Examine the plumbing
Wherever you find pipework, you should check it for signs of leakage or water damage. Peer into the kitchen cupboards below the sink and examine the pipes to ensure they are dry on the outside. Older bathrooms often have exposed pipes you can check, so take your time and examine the plumbing. Enquire about the age of the boiler and ask whether it has been regularly serviced and if it is still covered by the warranty. Newer boilers often have fewer moving parts, meaning manufacturers offer extended warranties of up to 7 years. It’s good to know where you stand with this fundamental appliance.
Give some thought to outside drainage, pipework and taps as well. You’ll want everything to work properly, with no water pooling in the centre of the patio. Check the guttering as well.
How are the electrics?
As more and more gadgets find their way into the average home, electrical faults are becoming increasingly prevalent. Old wiring can be quite dangerous and costly to replace, so look at power points and any visible wiring while you look around.
Fuse boards can be a good indicator of the age of an electrical system. Does it look out-of-date? If it looks like something from a bygone era, chances are the wiring is just as ancient.
Is the property an energy black hole?
Heating costs are constantly rising, so it’s worthwhile to ask about the standard of the insulation in the home. A well-insulated property can drastically reduce energy bills and improve your general comfort while you live there. Have a look inside the attic to see if there is good insulation present. You can also check water pipes for lagging.
Double glazing is important to prevent heat escaping in the winter months. Look at the windows to see how modern they look and judge whether they will need replacing in the near future.
Is there adequate storage?
We all have stuff that needs to be stored away, but many people forget to look out for storage space when viewing a property. Be certain there is plenty of cupboard space for your requirements, as it can be difficult to add more later on. Newer homes often have less storage space than older ones, so pay extra attention when viewing a new build.
Are the rooms big enough for your needs?
There have been stories of developers placing smaller furniture in rooms to make them appear bigger by comparison. Don’t be fooled by this kind of strategy. Unless you plan to buy all-new furniture when you move in, you need to consider whether your existing furniture will fit in the rooms.
Use your ears
Many older homes suffer from a lack of good soundproofing, particularly in terraced homes. Some sellers will have a radio or television on while you are there to mask the noise from their next-door neighbour. Politely ask them to turn the sound down while you are looking around.
North, East, South, West…
It is a good idea to check which way a property is facing, particularly if you are viewing on a gloomy winter day. South-facing homes benefit from more light than north-facing ones, and they tend to be warmer as well.
Most people prefer a light, bright room over a darker one, so make use of your smartphone’s compass during the viewing. Remember, also, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Generally speaking, a west, south-west or south-facing garden is favourable.
Once you have looked over the home, explore the area
When it comes to property, you may have heard that it’s all about location, location, location. If you’re new to the area, take some time to check for potentially problematic things. Is there a nearby pub that might mean noisy people walk on your street late at night? Where are the nearest schools? Is public transport easily accessible? How about access by road? Are there train tracks right behind the property? How close are the nearest shops?
All of these features of the surrounding area, and many more, are important to consider before deciding to buy a property.
Look out for construction projects in the area
Will that beautiful sea view be blocked by a new high-rise in a few months? In England and Wales, you can view the Government’s Planning Portal to check what’s happening and avoid nasty surprises in the locale. Searches can be made by postcode and area.
Are you planning to move?
If you are thinking of buying a home, Think Plutus are here to help. We are expert mortgage advisers and can answer questions about every part of the property buying process. We can also offer whole-of-market mortgage advice to ensure you get the very best deal to help you buy your new home. Give us a call or drop us an email – it’s easy to get in touch, and our friendly team will be on hand to help with anything.