Take your time
Spend a good amount of time looking around the property – at least 30 minutes – so you can make the proper checks and really get a feel for it.
Research conducted by Which? found that 71% of people who spent more than two hours viewing a property paid less than the asking price, while only 48% of those who spent less than ten minutes paid below the asking price.
View the property more than once
The agent may tell you there’s a lot of interest in the property, but don’t rush your decision.
Try to see the property multiple times if you can. The more times you view it, the more chance you’ll have to spot potential issues.
Try to view it two or three times at different times of day to see how traffic, light and noise change.
Try not to let your heart rule your head. Even if you fall in love with the property straight away, stay objective and check everything out properly.
Be aware of the tricks sellers use to make properties more appealing, like delicious smells, crackling fires and strategic lighting – would the house still seem as good without them?
Carry out a house survey
You should always arrange an independent house survey to discover any underlying issues. This will help you make an informed decision about how much you’re willing to pay for the property.
You may also be able to use the results to negotiate with the seller.
What to look for when buying a house: the checklist
Here’s our checklist of what to look for when buying a house. You might find it useful to print it out and take it along to the viewing to make sure you don’t miss anything.
1. Which way does the house face?
Take a compass with you (you might have one on your phone) and check which way the house faces. South-facing houses or gardens will get plenty of sunlight, while north-facing ones will be somewhat gloomier. If you like the sun to come in your window in the morning, look for a bedroom that faces east.
2. How big are the rooms?
Are they big enough for your needs? Will your furniture fit into them?
3. How much storage space is there?
Is there room for all your possessions? If there isn’t, is there enough space to build extra shelves or cupboards?
4. Are there enough power sockets?
As the number of gadgets in our lives expands, so does the need for power sockets. Check each room to see if it’s got enough for your needs. Also check their condition, and the condition of the fuse board – dodgy wiring can be expensive to replace.
5. Is the property structurally sound?
Look out for any cracks big enough to put the edge of a 10p in (a few hairline cracks are OK). Check especially around end-of-terrace walls, where extensions join and around bay windows – these can all start to fall away from the rest of the house over time.
6. Is there damp?
Watermarks, flaking plaster and a musty smell are all tell-tale signs of damp. If the room has just been repainted this may also be a warning sign – is the seller trying to cover up damp?
7. What’s the plumbing like?
Do the radiators work? Are the pipes insulated? How old is the boiler? Turn on the taps and shower to check the water pressure and find out how long it takes for hot water to come through.
8. Is the roof in good condition?
How old is the roof? Are there any missing tiles or damage? Replacing roofs is expensive, so make sure you check the condition carefully.
9. Are the windows in good condition?
Are they double-glazed? If they are, check for condensation between the two panes – this means they’re faulty. Are the frames intact, and do they need repainting? If you can easily push your finger into a wooden window frame, it’s probably rotten.
10. What’s the attic like?
Is there much storage space up there? How easily can you access it? Could you convert it into an extra room? Is it insulated? Insulation can make a big difference to your home’s energy efficiency.
11. Is it soundproof?
Try to view the house at a time the neighbours are likely to be in to see if you can hear them through the walls.
12. What’s the local area like?
Spend a good chunk of time exploring the local area – you need to know whether this is a place you’d like to live. How close are the things that matter to you, like shops, schools or transport links? Is the house near a noisy road or train tracks? Revisit at rush hour and pub closing time to see if it gets busy or rowdy.
What to look for when buying a house: A summary
Our checklist should help you work out what to look for when buying a house, but one of the most important things to decide is whether the house feels like it could be your home.
If you’re ready to start looking for properties in London, why not get in touch with our friendly team today?