How To Create A House Viewing Checklist

Cheerful diverse couple writing in notebook near boxes before relocation

Looking to buy the home of your dreams? Often people just type “buy a house near me” into a search engine to find the right house, but there’s so much more to it than that. Visiting those properties is key. Studies have shown that most people visit at least five properties before they select one that meets their needs, so get ready to see lots of options as you search for the perfect home for you. What exactly should you look at in each home visit, though? What are the questions to ask when viewing a house? How can you make certain you’re paying attention to what really matters in the home after home? House shoppers, pay attention! This quick guide can help you make a buying-a-house checklist that UK shoppers will envy!

Location Matters

One of the first things you should consider when viewing a house is the location. After all, once you’ve purchased the home you’re considering, you can make lots of changes both inside and outside the home. The one thing you can’t change, though, is where it’s located. As you approach the flat or house, get a sense of the neighbourhood. Does it give you easy access to parks and lots of green spaces? Think, too, about how close transport links are, particularly if you’ll be commuting to and from work. Are you close enough to great restaurants and shops? Is there a decent pub nearby? You may also want to look at crime rates in the area. It may be useful to visit the space a couple of times to better understand how the neighbours behave and whether any concerns would make you not wish to live there.

The Outside of a Home

On your buying-a-house checklist of questions to ask, many of them should come from your first impressions of the property itself. Initially, look at the direction the property faces. In the winter, it may not matter which rooms face which direction, but in the summer, it can matter a lot. You want some rooms to be full of light and warmth, not darkness. You may also want some rooms to be cool and dark, and that will mean you don’t want the afternoon sun bearing in the windows of those spaces. If at all possible, bring a compass or at least load the app on your phone so that you know where you’ll get the most sunlight in the home.

The direction the home faces, though, isn’t the only thing on your list of questions to ask when buying a house. You’ll also want to ask about and take a careful look at the cladding, windows, and roof. If the home looks a bit shabby or the cladding seems damaged, it could end up costing you quite a bit to repair in the long run. Take a solid look at the windows, too. Look for cracking paint. If you notice it, it could be a sign that condensation forms there regularly. Additionally, you’ll want to gently push your finger near the window frames. If it gives, that’s typically a sign that it could be rotten. In that case, you’ll need to have new windows installed.

Among the things on your list of questions to ask when viewing a house should also be the roof. Find out when it was installed. It’s important to note that roofs typically only last between fifteen and 20 years, depending on the material that is installed on them, so you need to understand when you might be expected to replace the roof.

The garden is an important consideration on the outside of the property, too, during house viewings. Many people like a fairly large garden. Others, though, prefer something much smaller so it is easy to maintain. Think about how much maintenance it will take and whether it is already well cared for. Gardens tend to be a fairly big benefit to homeowners when it comes to resale value, but only if they’re looked after. You’ll also want to think directionally here, too. You’ll likely want a south-facing garden. Checkers who consider this will find the perfect amount of sun in the late afternoon.

It might be helpful to look to see if the home seems to have sufficient drainage as you consider what to look for when viewing a house. You’ll want to do a bit of research, too, to check whether the property has flooded in the past during heavy rains. Look to see where drains are located and to see if they block easily. If you notice problematic wet spots around the outside of the property, it may be an indicator that the home has drainage issues.

Don’t forget to think about things like parking when house viewing. If there is no garage, is the parking easily accessible? Does it look to be quite busy? This can be of particular concern if you’re purchasing a flat. You want to make certain that parking won’t be an issue for you after your purchase.

The last consideration you’ll want to make is the security level of the property.  If the front is easily noticed, your home or flat is more likely to be secure. You’ll also want to check to see if there’s an intruder alarm to help maintain safety. If you’re purchasing a flat, ask about CCTV cameras or other security precautions, especially in common areas.

Inside the Home

Once you arrive inside, there’s still more to add to your house viewing checklist in UK homes. Start by thinking about one of the most serious concerns when buying a property today – dampness. You can identify the potential for the issue if you notice a particularly musty smell. Sometimes, you may see mildew on the walls or discoloured patches here and there. Damp may also be the culprit if you see peeling wallpaper or blistering paint. In all of those cases, it means air is condensing on the walls, and that means there are ventilation issues within the home or flat. Damp can lead to fairly serious health issues, and it’s tough to get rid of once it’s there, so you likely won’t want to continue the tour if you notice that’s an issue.

You’ll want to consider the floors in each room. This is particularly true for older homes. The joists that support floorboards can rot over time and that could eventually cause your floor to collapse. That’s a fairly serious issue, so feel free to add it to your questions to ask when viewing a house on the UK market. If the floors seem too springy as you walk across them, it’s worth checking out before you purchase the property.

One of the most important things to consider as you think about what to look for when buying a house is how structurally sound the building is. Any home or flat with big cracks in the walls, particularly where two extensions are joined, the end of terrace walls appear, or near bay windows may mean the home needs quite a bit of attention. While only a surveyor can tell, it’s certainly an issue you’ll want to have investigated down the road should you decide to buy that home or flat.

As you begin to get a feel for the inside of the home, your home survey checklist should include making sure each of the rooms you view is the right size for you. Ask yourself, “What do you need in each room?” You want to make certain your furniture might fit in each space. Often sellers will stage a room to make it look larger than it is, and that can certainly fool you if you aren’t looking at all the things you are wanting in a given space. If you want to be certain, feel free to bring a tape measure along to each show. Think, too, about storage space in each room. After all, where will you keep your towels and extras like your Hoover?

If the home isn’t as large as you’d like, take a look at the potential of extending or renovating it to help add both space and value to the home. There are properties where this isn’t possible, so if you believe it’s something you’d like to consider in the home, it’s absolutely essential that you plan for it. This is one of the most important questions to ask at a house viewing, as if the property can’t be extended or renovated, you’ll need to know before you put in an offer.

As strange as it sounds, you’ll also want to check the plumbing throughout the home. Feel free to flush the toilets and run the taps just to see what the water pressure is like throughout. You may also want to see how warm the radiators get and how long they take to achieve that warmth. Additionally, turn on the shower or the bath and make sure it gets warm enough as well.

You should check the electricals in the same manner. Buyers for a property like homes and flats should turn all of the light switches throughout the home on, and ask about whether the sockets work. Make certain the oven and stove work as well. You may even want to check on the refrigerator. Electricals can be expensive to repair, so you want to make sure there aren’t any problems before you move in. You may also want to ask about the current electricity bill so you know what you can expect to pay month after month. While you’re doing that, take a look at the power points. Are there enough of them in each room? You don’t want to buy a space where you’re going to struggle for power points as you work to plug in your devices for recharging.

As you make your way through the home, consider pulling out your mobile phone now and again and see if you can get a signal. It may seem a bit silly, but the last thing you want to do is purchase a property where you can’t get a signal on your mobile. Studies have shown many people believe mobile access is a key consideration when they buy a new home, so you’ll certainly want to make sure it’s what you need.

Ask your estate agent exactly what is included in the price. Some fixtures and fittings may be moved out when the current owners leave, so find out what is staying. Often owners are willing to part with curtains and light fittings. Sometimes, they may leave the refrigerator and washing machine behind too. You need to know exactly what you might be getting for the bid you place on the property. There are many things to buy for a new house, and these are a must. Many people even make a “things to buy for a new house” checklist. UK homebuyers, particularly those who are in the market for their first home, find this a great option. It can help you know which fixtures and fittings you really hope they’ll leave behind for you.

Overall, as you walk through the inside of the home, the last thing on your house viewing checklist should be a look at the general condition of the house. You’re looking for small things like cracks in the walls, whether or not it has been freshly painted, how worn the carpeting looks, and whether or not things seem excessively creepy or aged. If the property needs more work than you’re willing to put into it, it may be best to view another home.

Be Sure You Take Your Time

Inspecting a property inside and out can be a fairly time-consuming process. Statistics suggest that only 35% of potential buyers spend two hours or more at a given property. That’s less than most people spend planning a holiday! Remember, there is no set time limit in which you have to view a property, so you’ll want to spend plenty of time considering each home or flat you see to get a good viewing. This may be the biggest investment you ever make, so you need to make certain that it’s the right choice to meet your needs before you actually put an offer in. If you ever feel rushed by the estate agent or another party showing you the property, feel free to ask them to slow down. You need time to think about the purchase you’re making, and you’ll want to consider the things to ask when viewing a new house, too, so think about factoring in time for that as well.

A Few Final Tips

Now that you know what to look for and how much time to spend looking at each property, there are a few other things to consider as you prepare to look at homes and flats. You may want to add them to your home buyers survey checklist. First, if you find a space you love, view it at least once more. Be sure to book that second viewing at a different time of day. You’ll want to get a feel for the property at a couple of different times during the day so you understand the neighbourhood and simple things like how the natural light plays with the property throughout the day.

Remember that you should never view property options alone. Always bring your partner or another family member, as a second opinion might help you spot a few other things you didn’t notice. It can also help keep you safe.

You may also want to consider taking a few different photos as you view house after house. You’re likely to see several different homes and flats as you try to find the right one for you, so take a few photos of things you like and things that concern you. Naturally, you’ll want to ask the estate agent’s permission before you do so, but it really can help you better remember each location.

Many people do a quick commute from the properties they’re considering to their work to understand how long it might take to reach work each day and to reach home from work each day. That can help you better understand whether this is the right home to meet your needs. It’s certainly one of the things to look for when buying a house.

Finally, if you’re considering buying a flat, there are a couple of special concerns to consider. First, find out whether it’s a leasehold or a freehold. If it is a leasehold property, you’ll want to understand how many years are left on the lease and what the service charge is. You can typically use a leasehold length checker online to learn more about those numbers. You’ll also want to evaluate the outdoor space and whether it’s in a communal area. It’s particularly important that you understand how much noise can be heard from the neighbours in a flat situation, as noisy neighbours can be quite frustrating, and they may affect the eventual resale value of the property. You should also take the time to understand whether there’s a residents’ committee and whether you’ll need to contribute to a sinking fund.

Finally, once you’ve seen the home, put together a list of questions to ask the estate agent or the seller so you make certain you have all of the information you need so you don’t lack information as you try to make this decision. You may want to search “what to ask when viewing a house” just to be sure you’ve covered everything you should have.

We are proud members of...

  • NAPB
  • RICS
  • The Property Ombudsman
  • Trading Standards

We are proud to be the most regulated property buyer operating in the ‘Quick House Sale’ industry. We are an active member of the NAPB (National Association Of Property Buyers) and are RICS regulated, which means you can have every confidence of selling your home with us quickly & easily.