Seeing Is Believing: The Importance Of House Viewing In The UK Property Market

Green plant near brown brick wall

While online browsing shapes initial opinion, physically viewing a property remains an irreplaceable experience for buyers and renters in the UK market. You can research neighbourhoods and pore over photos endlessly. But it is only during in-person house viewing that your senses can fully assess a home. The textures, proportions, light and ambience must be experienced first-hand. Viewings reveal deal-breaking issues no virtual tour can convey. And they provide gut intuition no analysis can replace. In an age of virtual staging, 3D floorplans and digital tours, seeing still is believing when appraising a property. This guide covers how to make the most of physical viewings. Take time deciding; move thoughtfully through rooms; look beyond the surface. Allow your whole self – senses, instincts, logic – to evaluate if this house feels like home.

Preparing Effectively for Viewings

Don’t arrive blindly for property viewings. Prepare in advance by:

  • Studying online pictures, floorplans and neighbourhood guides thoroughly to familiarise yourself and identify any concerns or appeal points.
  • Driving past the exterior beforehand if possible to check the street scene and surroundings.
  • Pre-empting and researching common concerns – noise levels, natural light, storage, parking.
  • Make a checklist of must-haves – garden size, number of bedrooms, kitchen layout etc to assess if the property matches needs.
  • Arrange childcare if needed to maximise your ability to focus without distraction and navigate safely.
  • Sharing the listing with others to get their perspective on suitability before viewing.
  • Checking practicalities like dates, times, house number, parking availability, and who will conduct the viewing.
  • Charging phone, bringing extra batteries and powerbanks so you can take photos, take notes, and stay contactable.

Preparation prevents continuously having to ask basic questions during limited viewing time. It allows you to focus on your live impressions.

Making First Impressions Count

That crucial first glimpse makes a lasting impact. Note your immediate reactions upon entering:

  • Is it flooded with light or gloomy? Cramped or airy? Does it feel warm and welcoming?
  • What is your initial impression of the layout, style, condition and proportions? Don’t dismiss gut emotional responses.
  • Can you envisage your furniture suiting the spaces? Or would major new purchases be needed?
  • What smells and sounds assail your senses? Pets, dampness, busy roads? Do they appeal?
  • Are there elements of style, character and quirkiness that you love or loathe? Be true to your tastes.
  • Are there any instant turn-offs – tired decor, clutter, signs of damage? Look beyond cosmetics.

While first instincts could be misleading, don’t ignore that initial wow or doubt. Note visceral reactions before rational analysis kicks in.

Moving Methodically Room-to-Room

Don’t hurriedly traverse the whole property in 10 minutes. Take time in each room, methodically looking:

  • Open all cabinets, cupboards and drawers to assess space and layout inside.
  • Operate doors and windows – do they open easily? Check for drafts or dampness issues.
  • Try out showers and faucets – look for leaks, mould and water pressure.
  • Switch appliances where possible to test functionality.
  • Lie down on beds to assess comfort and privacy.
  • Sit in multiple parts of each room and look around – do the lighting, view and ambience change?
  • Take dimensions and room sizes, especially if space is tight. Scale is hard to judge visually.
  • Photograph everything – you’ll forget details later.

Inspect every corner thoroughly rather than making generalised assessments. The devil is in the detail.

Assessing Accessibility and Storage

While touring, consider more than just each room’s appearance:

  • Are rooms logically connected? Is the floor plan functional or awkward? Try different routes.
  • Do doors and hallways accommodate your furniture or would things get jammed moving around?
  • Are staircases wide enough? Count steps.
  • Can storage space fit your existing possessions and future needs? Check inbuilt wardrobes.
  • Is access easy for those with mobility issues both internally and externally?
  • Any potential to add storage solutions like loft conversions and sheds?
  • Scope to convert or divide spaces if needed – garage to living room, extra bathroom etc.

Look beyond surface space to how well the layout works for your household’s needs and movement patterns long-term.

Hunting Out Red Flags

While admiring gorgeous kitchens and dreamy bedrooms, stay alert to issues:

  • Peeling wallpaper and blown plaster may indicate dampness problems.
  • Cracks in walls ceilings or wonky floors suggest potential structural movement.
  • Check ceilings and walls for water stains or mould patches, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Musty smells could indicate inadequate ventilation, mould or pet odours.
  • Try taps, toilets and showers everywhere while inspecting grouting, sealant and under sinks for leaks.
  • Noisy areas or thin walls and floors between bedrooms require further soundproofing checks.
  • Uneven, cracked paths and patios in the garden may need safety repairs.

Look past cosmetics for clues to underlying faults. Problems often lurk out of sight.

Capturing Key Details

Note down essential details rather than relying on memory:

  • Total number of bedrooms, bathrooms, reception rooms.
  • Exact dimensions of key rooms, garden and total plot.
  • Details of included or absent appliances, furnishings, and fixtures.
  • Parking specifics – garage dimensions, allocated spaces, restrictions.
  • Boiler and radiator specifics like age, type, and service history.
  • What Internet and utility providers are available locally?
  • Floor plan layouts and storage spaces.
  • Contact details for vendors, agents and local tradesmen.

Photos are vital, but write down the basics while onsite. Details are easily forgotten between multiple viewings.

Revisiting at Different Times

If possible when seriously considering a property, view it again at different times:

  • Weekday evenings – does the ambience, noise and local parking change? How does it feel to arrive home here in the dark?
  • Weekend afternoons – is the neighbourhood noisier and busier? Will the roads cope with visitors?
  • School run times – to gauge local congestion, parking availability and general hustle and bustle.
  • Unsociable times like very early morning – listen out for disruptive noise like traffic, construction, festivities etc.
  • Weather extremes – for drafts on windy days or flood risks during heavy rain.

Living somewhere day to day differs vastly from viewing on random quiet afternoons. What extra insights does revisiting reveal?

Trusting Your Instincts

Beyond the practical checklist, listen to your gut:

  • Can you envision making happy memories here and calling it home? Or do you feel like a guest?
  • Does the property lift your mood or leave you cold? Don’t disregard emotional resonance.
  • Are there changes you would need to make to love the place? Or is the style already “you”?
  • Do you keep comparing it unfavourably to other homes? A true contender usually stands out.
  • How do others react to photos and videos – are friends and family underwhelmed or enthused?
  • Sleep on it after viewings rather than rushing to judgements – see how firmly impressions stick after the initial buzz.

This is a long-term investment in your daily life. Ensure the intangible feel of the property resonates too.

Asking the Right Questions

Leave no stone unturned when asking questions:

  • How long have current owners lived here? Why are they selling? Be alert if they only bought it recently themselves.
  • What are utility and Internet costs and speeds? Request actual bills.
  • What maintenance or improvement works have been conducted and when? Ask for paperwork.
  • Have there been any insurance claims regarding subsidence, flooding etc?
  • Why is it priced as it is? How negotiable are sellers on price?
  • What potential is there to extend, convert or renovate – e.g. loft, garage, basement?
  • How are the neighbours? Any persistent problems?
  • Check council tax band and if discounts are available e.g. single occupancy.

Don’t be shy about asking anything and everything. This is a major investment – every detail matters.

Following Up After Viewings

Viewings shouldn’t be one-off experiences. Make sure to follow up:

  • Revisit listing photos to compare expectations versus reality now you’ve experienced the property yourself.
  • Note down feedback from all companions while fresh in your minds.
  • Contact the agent or owner if questions occur once home that you forgot to ask onsite. Most are happy to provide extra information.
  • Drive past again at different times of the day. Walk the local area. Get a further feel for daily life there.
  • Research or seek quotes on potential renovations and refurbishments that could enhance the property.
  • Sleep on your impressions before making any rushed judgements. See how firmly they stick over time.

Viewings start a two-way ongoing conversation to determine if the practical and emotional fit exists.

Choosing Between Contenders

If trying to choose between top contenders, compare them by:

  • Listing the pros and cons of each to identify what matters most to your lifestyle.
  • Comparing specifics like floorplans, storage space and parking provisions rather than relying on general vibes.
  • Envisioning typical days in each home – making breakfast, getting ready for work, unwinding in the evening. Where provides the happiest backdrop?
  • Observing your reactions looking back at the viewing photos and videos – which home still stands out?
  • Driving by again if possible for each option to jog your memory of the surroundings.
  • Sharing virtual tours with loved ones to get their sense of your needs and preferences.

Take your time weighing up choices carefully rather than rushing emotional decisions. This is your home, not just an investment.

Trusting Your Final Selection

Among the excitement of the purchase process, it’s normal to occasionally question if you’ve chosen the right home after committing:

  • Make the most of second viewings, negotiations and surveys. Leave no stone unturned before exchanging contracts – back out early if fundamental flaws emerge.
  • Weigh up whether niggling doubts are sizable concerns or minor compromises any property will involve.
  • Reflect on what originally drew you – location, layout, style – and whether that appeal remains underneath nerves.
  • Focus on how the home meets your practical needs and supports your lifestyle if wavering over superficial aesthetics.
  • Be wary of getting hung up on “what ifs” around other options unless tangible reasons exist to change course. The road not taken often looks greener.
  • Trust those closest to you who understand your needs and what makes you happy. Let them provide reassurance if anxiety strikes.

Feeling nervous is expected with such a major investment. But concentrate on what matters most – creating a home.

Conclusion

While online browsing shapes initial impressions, physically experiencing a property proves irreplaceable. Touching surfaces, sampling sights, watching shadows move and sensing the ambience immerses you fully in a home. Details that could make or break your enjoyment are only revealed in person. The smells, sounds and feel cannot be captured virtually but will surround you daily. Take time moving thoughtfully from room to room, probing, testing and noticing. Ask exhaustive questions to leave no assumptions. Return at different times to sample varied conditions. And listen to your instincts as well as logic. A property’s practical specifications are only part of the story you write there. While risky to rely solely on emotions, a home should resonate in your heart too. Amid the exhilaration and anxieties of the process, trust in your ability to recognise where you will flourish. Your home awaits. The search ends when a house viewing convinces both your mind and soul this is where your next chapter begins. See for yourself.

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