Questions to ask on a house viewing

Stuart Bowman

4-minute read

Last updated: 28th September 2020

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The viewing stage of the property buying process can mean a great many things to a great many people.

If you're about to view your first house it can be the most exciting thing in the world… viewing your 23rd house? Well, it's now well beyond feeling like a chore.

Wherever you're up to, the viewing phase is crucial to making sure you don't have any regrets further down the line, whether that be simply holding up your mortgage application, or actually buying and living in a house that makes your miserable day after day.

Property search? Leave no stone unturned

If you want to give yourself every chance of bagging the dream house, then you need to extend your property search beyond Rightmove and Zoopla.

Of course, these sites are great and you'll be using them a lot (you can download the apps to get notifications when a property is added to your search area), but you won't be alone in using them.

Between them, Zoopla and Rightmove generate almost 175 million web visits, every month and they have around 2 million properties listed, so it's pretty competitive out there.

To stack the odds in your favour a little and allow you a period of exclusivity, you can try On The Market.

You may have seen the TV adverts, and it's basically estate agents coming together to take back a tad more control over the housing market.

Properties still go on to the big 2 of Rightmove and Zoopla, but some have 24 hours on On The Market first, and that period could mean the difference between your offer being accepted and someone else's being accepted.

Currently around 7 million people use On The Market, so if you want to get really exclusive, it's worth popping into your local agent (or the agents who sell houses where you're looking) and doing some old fashioned face time.

First, you can find out if they are on On The Market, and if you're lucky you could ask them to tell you about opportunities as soon as they arise.

When the time does come to go viewing, make good use of that time. Here's a handy viewing checklist:

10 questions to ask when viewing a house

Where's the boiler?

Check out the boiler, find out how old it is and when it was last serviced. Central heating isn’t interesting until it doesn’t work or costs you a fortune to replace. An old system doesn’t have to be a deal breaker – you might just want to negotiate on the asking price.

What's the water pressure like?

Run the taps (hot and cold) and ask to run the shower(s) to see if the water pressure is decent. There’s nothing worse than starting your day under a lukewarm trickle of a shower. It’ll also alert you to any noisy pipes or pumps.

Can you get a signal?

More important than it used to be, this. Get your phones out and check if you get a 4G signal. You don’t want to get stuck with a mobile contract you can’t use because of a poor signal.

And can you get a decent download speed?

It’s worth checking this online with various ISPs because you’ll see what kind of speeds/connections are available in the area.

You may even want to ask for the Wi-Fi password to see first hand.

Can you check out the loft?

If there’s a loft you can access, ask if it’s boarded. If it is, you’ll be able to get up there and store your Christmas decorations and the like up there.

What are the boundaries?

If it isn’t immediately obvious, ask where the property’s boundary meets the neighbours’.

What state are the windows in?

Like central heating, windows can be an expensive update. Check the condition of the windows, looking for signs of condensation either on the window or in between the two panes. Also, open a couple of them to check the mechanism isn’t stiff, loose or worn out.

What's really included?

Look out for things like free-standing wardrobes that may have been carpeted around. When the occupants leave and take that stuff away, you’ll be left with a hole to fill or a room to re-carpet.

Are the neighbours... normal?

If you can, ask the current owners about their neighbours. Try to gauge the reaction beyond what they tell you. Look out for any suspect glances, hesitation or attempts to be ‘diplomatic’ about problem neighbours.

Can you take a lot of pics?

While you’re doing everything else, take photographs. Your memory can fail you and play tricks, so a photo or two will give you a more objective way to review what you saw.

What about property viewing in a socially distanced, lockdown coronavirus world?

Local nuances aside, house viewings can function pretty normally.

The government advises that agents should check that you are not showing any Covid symptoms or have been asked to self isolate as part of a test, track and trace programme.

Some agents may ask that the initial viewings are done virtually, but, even if that's the case, make sure you ask all the questions you need to ask and see everything you want to see.

If you're doing a physical viewing normal social distancing rules will apply, so that means keeping apart, and wearing masks.

Here are a few other articles you may find useful.

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