What To Ask When Viewing a Property:
The Ultimate Checklist
You’ve decided to make the move. Whether you’re moving home or buying a new property for your portfolio, you’ve got a lot of work to do. And you have a lot of questions to ask! Here is our guide on what to ask when viewing a property.
Buying a new property is serious business. Scientists have even proven that moving home is one of the most stressful life events. (For those already in the move phase, read our 7 Top Tips For a Stress-Free House Move)
One of best ways to deal with property viewings is to be organised. A bit of preparation up front can go a long way in ensuring you make the most of your time spent at each property. Then, you can come away from the viewing armed with the right knowledge to make an informed decision. Knowing what to ask, and having a clear list from the outset, can be invaluable.
At Mark King Properties, we’re good at buying and selling properties, having helped over 800+ people in South Wales sell their home quickly and efficiently. Whether you’re viewing to buy or to rent, all questions on our Ultimate Checklist should be relevant. However, some are best suited to buyers only, so we’ve marked those ones with a (B) to differentiate them.
We’ve divided the questions into three main sections: The initial viewing (all the things you should ask up front). Let’s get physical (what to look, search and smell for both inside and outside the property). And finally, a more reflective section for once you’ve gathered all the necessary detail and are ready to make a decision: once you’ve slept on it.
The initial viewing
Viewing a property more than once (for at least 30 minutes each time and at different times of day) is highly recommended. It’s the only way to get a true feel for the property if you’re serious about it. It also allows enough time to ask all the questions and spot any potential problems. Knowing as much as possible about the lease (if it’s a leasehold) will help you make an informed decision. And knowing what type of construction the property is will help you understand if your mortgage options are limited. Here’s a list of things you need to ask during that initial viewing:
- Why is the owner selling? (B)
- Exactly what is included in the sale? (B)
- How long has the property been on the market? (B)
- How long have the owners lived there? (B)
- Are adjoining houses owner-occupied or rented?
- Is it leasehold or freehold? How many years are left on the lease?
- What type of construction is the property? If it is non-standard construction, this can affect the ability to get a mortgage.
- Have any major works been conducted? (B)
- Is the property listed? If so, what grade is it? (B)
- How much is the Council Tax? And how much are utility bills in the area?
- What’s the property’s energy performance like?
- What can the estate agent tell you about the local neighbourhood and neighbours?
Let’s get physical: Inside the property
You’ve now covered most bases when it comes to the legal side of the property, and have a good understanding of why it’s on the market. You’ve also got a better idea of what the area, bills and neighbours are like, too. So now it’s time to get physical. Whether you’re buying or renting, you need the property to be as physically safe-and-sound as possible.
This section is designed to give you a thorough idea of the current safety of the property, and discover any issues that may be caused by faults. Here’s a guide to what to physically look for (and ask) when viewing a property inside:
- Can you move the furniture and have a peek under the rugs?
- Can you try the taps? The windows? The light switches? (B)
- Have any of the rooms been redecorated recently? If so, why?
- Have there been any problems with the boiler recently?
- Damp that you can see (or smell, it’s usually musty)? What about condensation?
- Can the neighbours see into any of the rooms?
- Are there any exposed wires?
- Does your mobile phone have coverage inside the property?
- Are there any cracks big enough to put the edge of a 10p in?
- Are there enough power sockets?
- Is there loft access and can I see the loft?
- Do any chimneys work?
- When was the consumer unit/fuse box last checked?
- Are there smoke alarms?
- Has any work been done on the property? If yes, what guarantees are there on the work?
- Which way does the property face?
- If it is a flat then you’ll need to know; is it leasehold or freehold?
- What access is there to the garden?
- What services are shared, e.g. drainage or bins? If there are flats above, what are the noise levels like?
Let’s get physical: Outside the property
As above, you need to be just as vigilant with your outdoor inspections as indoor ones. Checking the roofing, guttering and asking questions about the garden will stand you in good stead to make the most informed decision possible. It can also flag up any issues that could be costly down the line if not spotted early on. Here’s a list of things to physically check on the outside of the property:
- How new or how sturdy are the drains and guttering? (B)
- Look at the exterior brickwork; are there any cracks?
- Is there any render or specific finish on the outer walls? If so, how old is it?
- Are there any tiles missing?
- Are the chimneys straight?
- Is the flashing (the lead that makes external joins waterproof) secure?
- Can you notice any signs of drains and guttering leaking?
- Are the fascias (wooden/PVC section under the roof) in good condition?
Once you’ve slept on it
So you’ve given the property a good once-over. The market moves quickly, but it’s not advised to rush these decisions, particularly when buying. If you’ve viewed the property at least twice and are happy with the findings of your investigations, here are some final points for consideration when you’re finally ready to make that offer:
- Are you satisfied you know everything about the property?
- Have you been pragmatic in your approach to the viewings?
- What is the minimum price the seller will accept? (B)
- What offers have they had so far? (B)
- When do the sellers have to move out of the property? (B)
- Is the property part of a chain? (B) (learn more about property chains – click here)
- Is there room for negotiation?
It’s important to remain objective at the initial stages; you don’t want to overlook any major issues because you’ve already fallen in love with the property. What if all the outside guttering needs replacing, or the boiler is on the blink? Asking the right questions, so you’re fully aware of these issues is key to making the right decision.
As you can see, there are plenty of questions you could (and should) ask when viewing a property. Our advice is based on our knowledge and experience, but this list is not fully exhaustive. We hope you find our ultimate list on what to ask when viewing a property useful, and use it for your next viewing! But remember to always team resources like this with professional and legal advice where possible, particularly when making a purchase.