- Before attending a property viewing, conduct thorough pre-viewing research to understand the property’s location, its growth prospects, and the amenities nearby.
- Ensure you check the broadband strength of the property using tools. Also, determine the property’s energy efficiency by checking its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.
- During the viewing, follow a detailed checklist, examining both the exterior and interior. Key points include checking the roof, garden, and exterior walls, as well as assessing for damp, structural issues, and the condition of flooring inside.
Conducting due diligence on a property to ensure that it meets all of your criteria is only half of the game. Now that you’re confident about the property’s growth prospects and are certain that it will make for a great home (either for you or for your tenants), the next step is to arrange a viewing and check out the property in person (or hire someone else to do it for you if you prefer). But what exactly do you look for when viewing a property? Is there some sort of house viewing checklist that you can follow along?
In this guide, we’re going to provide just that – a comprehensive house viewing checklist that you can bring along with you to your next viewing to ensure that nothing slips past you and you’re in the best position possible when it comes to negotiating the house price and making an offer on it. We’re also going to provide you with some house viewing tips that will make the entire process easier and allow you to gain additional nuggets of information whilst you’re at the property.
However, before we dive into the checklist, let’s first touch on what you should do before you attend the viewing.
As mentioned above, before you attend the viewing you need to perform a fair bit of property due diligence and area research – this will help you to better understand the property’s location (both on a city level and on a postcode level) as well as the neighbourhood itself.
At this stage, you’ll be looking to find out whether the neighbourhood is safe, what the demand for property in that postcode is like and whether the property is likely to experience capital growth in the future. As well as finding out whether the location is suitable for you – whether there’s public transport nearby, local amenities and if you’re a parent, whether there are good schools and parks within walking distance. All important information for any property investor or homebuyer to understand before they consider buying the property.
This may sound like quite a bit of work and it definitely can be but luckily for us, there’s a handful of pretty amazing (and mostly free) property analysis tools that we can utilise to get all of this research done, in a fraction of the time it would have taken us to do it manually. Tools such as Lendlord which you’ll see mentioned quite a lot throughout this site, purely due to how good of a tool it is and how often we use it personally.
In addition to that, there are two more things to look into before you head out to view the property: 1) the broadband strength, and 2) the energy efficiency of the property.
Checking Broadband Strength
If you’ve found the property on Rightmove, head to the property listing and scroll downwards until you find the ‘Broadband Speed’ tab – here you’ll find the average download speed of the fastest broadband package at this postcode according to Compare The Market. You can also compare the speed in that postcode to your current broadband speed to get a better understanding of whether it’s going to be worse or better.
Likewise, if you found the property on Zoopla, you can use their broadband checker feature to compare the broadband speed. You can also use some of the following broadband speed checkers:
Energy Efficiency (EPC Rating)
The higher the energy efficiency of a property, the lower the amount of energy used per square metre and the lower the carbon emissions. In other words, properties that are highly efficient with their energy use will require less energy for everyday life (from heating and cooking to bathing and making sure that you can see during the night), which of course means lower monthly bills.
Hence why it’s important to check how energy efficient the property is. You can do so by checking its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Not only will it tell you how energy efficient the property is but it will also provide you with a list of improvements. Head over to the above-linked page and enter the property’s postcode or street name and city: then simply find the property you’re after (if it doesn’t come up, it may be the case that there are two different postcodes on the street – just jump on Google maps and grab the other postcode).
If you want to buy a turnkey property or one that’s going to keep your bills down from day one, it’s recommended that you go for one with an EPC of at least B. But, if you’re willing to undertake a refurbishment or perhaps are buying the property as a Buy Refurbish Refinance project, you can always go for properties with a much lower rating (although I would avoid anything with a rating lower than E).
House Viewing Checklist
Roof – Does the roof look in good shape or could it use retiling? Are there any loose tiles? Is the chimney well sealed or are there gaps? Is the guttering in good shape and in line with the neighbours?
Exterior walls – Is the brickwork in good shape? Are there any gaps or cracks? Do the windows look okay?
Garden – Is the garden level? Is the fence in good shape? Which direction is it facing? South-facing gardens are often more desirable as they receive more sunlight throughout the day. Are there signs of Japanese knotweed? If there’s a shed or outbuilding, is it in good condition?
Front Porch – Is there a front porch or does the property go straight onto the street? Houses with front porches, even small ones, are often more desirable and look far better than ones that go straight onto the street. They also offer some additional storage space if needed.
Parking – Where could you park your car? If it’s on-road parking, is there a space available right outside the house which you could claim?
Look around the property – Are there any eye sores nearby? For example, are there massive flags hanging outside windows or piles of rubbish on the street?
Damp – Dark mould, water droplets on windows or walls, and unpleasant smells are all symptoms of condensation. These issues can be fixed by better ventilating the property and keeping it warm, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Rising damp and penetrating damp are the real dangers here – look out for signs of water damage or patches around the bottom and top of the walls. Get a damp metre stick to help you determine whether there’s dampness inside a wall.
Structural issues – Look out for cracks in the wall or ceiling – a small crack isn’t an issue (unless it runs through the entire wall), however, a crack into which you can fit your pinky finger or one that runs across an entire wall should be flagged as a reason for great concern.
Flooring – Are the floorboards or carpet in good shape? If there are carpets, does the underlay feel high quality? If there are floorboards, are they squeaky? Walk around the edges of the room to check.
Storage space – Are there any cupboards or storage space within the property? Is there an opportunity to add more – for example, could you add one under the staircase?
Window frames – Check whether the window frames are double-glazed and whether there are any cracks in the frames. It’s also worth checking whether they open smoothly and if the locks work.
Power Sockets – Do they work? Are they in good shape? If you’re looking at a potential buy-to-let, check whether the sockets have been moved up (if not, you will have to do this in the refurb).
Plumbing – When you’re in the bathroom and kitchen, check the water pressure and see how long it takes the water to warm up.
Boiler – Is it an electric or gas boiler? How old is it and when was the last inspection? Take a picture for future reference.
Electrics – Is the consumer unit in good shape? When was it last checked? Are there any exposed wires? Take a picture of it.
Fireplace – Does the fireplace work? Is there a draft coming through? Will it need to be boarded up?
Bathroom – Does everything in the bathroom work well? Be sure to check that the toilet flushes well and that the extractor fan works.
Kitchen – Again, check that everything works. Are the cabinets in good shape or will they need replacing?
Other things to check
Leasehold vs Freehold – If the property is leasehold, check how many years are left on the lease (If it’s anything less than 125 years, it’s recommended that you avoid the property as its value will decrease unless you opt to renew the lease which can be quite expensive). Also, is there ground rent or a service charge? If so, how much is it?
House Viewing Tips
- Take pictures of anything you’re unsure about or anything that causes you concern. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the boiler and consumer unit.
- Buy a damp metre stick to help you check for damp in the walls.
- Take a big old whiff in each room to check for smells of smoke that may linger around the property – getting rid of the smell of smoke can be quite difficult so it’s something to consider.
- Check if any white goods are included with the property. If so, check their condition.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the vendor questions about the property and why you’re selling it, and be sure to make general conversation in order to build rapport. Anything you learn about them or their situation will be quite handy for when you’re negotiating the house sale price (if you do choose to make an offer). Example questions could be:
- What are the neighbours like?
- How much are your typical monthly utility bills
- How does the parking work, do your neighbours generally leave your spot alone or do you have to fight for it?
Should I bring anything to a house viewing?
You don’t need to bring anything to a house viewing but it’s recommended that you come armed with a damp metre stick and your phone so that you can take pictures, videos and make notes about anything you see.
Is it Ok to take photos when at a house viewing?
If the property is empty then go straight ahead. However, if someone is still living in the property, you should ask for permission to take photos first. The current occupier will have their personal belongings and photos in the property so taking photos may be seen as an invasion of their privacy – that’s why you should ask for their permission first.
How many times should you view a house before buying?
The number of times that you view a property before you put an offer in depends on how confident you are about your analysis of the property. If you follow our recommendations of taking notes and pictures where necessary, you shouldn’t need to view the property more than once. Remember that speed is important when purchasing a property so don’t waste the vendors and estate agents time by constantly requesting viewings because you didn’t do it right the first time round.
Consider virtual viewings
If you live far away or if you don’t have the available time, you may want to consider a virtual viewing. This can take many forms – you can either have the estate agent walk around the property and film it for you (if they’re willing to do so), or you can utilise a house viewing service such as Viewber. They will view the property for you and report back with a detailed list of their findings, pictures, videos and their personal opinions. A live WhatsApp viewing or a 360-degree viewing is also available.
It’s a fairly handy service that we have used in the past whenever we were viewing properties halfway across the country or we didn’t have the time to attend the viewing. If you do opt for a virtual viewing, be sure to arm your viewber with this checklist so that they can report on everything that you wish to know about the property and ask them to take pictures of things that may be a cause for concern.
The above house viewing checklist should help you ensure that nothing is missed when you’re viewing houses, helping you to make better property buying decisions and acquiring the property at a price that is reflective of its current condition (or even below the market price if your negotiation skills are top notch).