Property viewings during coronavirus
Government guidance across the UK allows for physically distanced viewings that carefully adhere to public health guidance. It is vital that safety comes first so there are several measures that need to be followed to conduct a viewing safely. Our guide on viewings during COVID-19 has the full details.
Property viewing checklist
Think about whether the rooms big enough for your furniture. Measure your furniture before the viewing and take a tape measure with you so you can begin to map out whether your large items will fit in each room. Also, consider whether you will be stretching your budget for extra space you don't need.
Check each room for storage space. If there isn’t storage built into the bedrooms, factor in the size of wardrobes and drawers when looking at their shape and size.
potential for renovations
Would you prefer an open layout? Check whether any interior walls can be removed to create an open-plan space. Can the loft be converted? If you are a growing family, this could be a potential future project. Bear in mind that the property may be listed if it's of local or historical significance, which may restrict what alterations you can make.
Interior walls, floors, and tiles
Check the walls for any cracks, including signs of any that have been freshly painted over. If you can fit a 10p piece into a crack (around 3mm) it could be a sign of subsidence. Look out for any stains on carpets or floorboards as these could be cleaned up before you move in.
Test any of the appliances remaining at the property to see if they are working.
Keep an eye (and nose) out for damp in every room, including storage areas.
Windows and doors
Do they open and close easily and are all the locks working? Check the condition of the window and door frames and what glazing the windows areas could affect your energy bills. The property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will give you a good indication of how energy efficient the property is.
Taps, showers, baths and toilets
Check that all the taps work (including the shower and bath) and observe the water pressure. Turn on a hot tap to test how long it takes for hot water to come through. Give the toilets a flush to make sure they're not faulty.
Lights and power sockets
Test all the lights and check the plugs. An easy way to do this is to bring along a phone charger and test charging your phone.
What to ask during a property viewing
Freehold or LEasehold?
Always check whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Leasehold is very common with flats but can be an issue with houses and especially new build developments. Our guide Leasehold: A Life Sentence? will bring you up to speed on the dangers of buying a leasehold house.
The boiler can be a big outlay if it needs replacing. Find out how old it is to see if it is still under warranty and check the service history. Ask whether fireplaces are operational and if so, when were they last swept?
Find out how old the fuse box is and when it was last serviced.
Mobile Phone, broadband and Tv
Check your phone signal whilst at the property and whether there is a TV satellite outside. Is fibre broadband available? Most internet service providers have a search function which you can use to check the potential broadband speeds against a particular postcode. Are there phone and TV sockets in the property and are they in a sensible location?
Council Tax band
Ask what the property's council tax band is or use the Government website or Scottish Assessors to check all local authority charges. Larger houses tend to have higher council tax charges, which may affect the total costs you can expect on the property.
Tips when viewing a property outside
South-facing gardens get more sun
Check the direction so you can get a feel for how much sunshine you are likely to get. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, a south-facing garden will get the most sun during the day. Also, think about the size of the garden and whether it’s manageable for you.
Parking and traffic
Is there enough driveway or garage space for the cars you have? Is there free on-road parking nearby or will you need a permit? Spending a bit of time outside the property to get a feel for how busy the road is. If you can, revisit at different times of the day—especially rush hour—to get an honest account of the traffic.
If the property is near a main road or in an urban area, you may want to check the pollution levels. If you are looking to buy in London, use addresspollution.org to get an easy to understand report outlining what the pollution levels are like in that particular area. This should extend to other areas of the country in due course.
Brickwork and Roof
Look over the brickwork, rendering and pointing for its general condition. Check for any broken tiles on the roof or if it's a flat roof, ask when it was last checked.
Gutters and drains
The gutters are important as they can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the property—usually causing damp. Check for cracks or leaks, you may spot dark patches on the brickwork directly below if there is a leak. Have a look at the drains to see whether they are clogged up.
Check the local area
Make sure the location of the property fits your lifestyle, is it somewhere you could comfortably live? If you have children, is it close enough to a school? If you commute to work, is it near public transport links or within a reasonable distance to drive? Local amenities may be a bonus too; check if the property is near any shops and out of earshot of any pubs.
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