What do you look for when buying a house?
Viewings are the foundation of an Estate Agents role, the agent will try and be as helpful as possible, walking you through the property whilst describing each room as well as pointing out any key features, however, if a buyer doesn’t come prepared with what they’re looking for it can be more difficult for the agent to find them their most suitable property. Here at James Douglas, we understand that the buying and selling of your home can take up a lot of time and things can be easily forgotten about during the process.
A recent study has shown that 26% of people view their home once before purchasing, whilst 43% viewed their home twice, 21% viewed three times and 11% four times. This data would indicate that the majority of people would view their next home more than once to make sure it’s the right one for them. Viewing a house can be overwhelming, with so many details to take in, it’s no wonder people make the return trip to make sure they have all their questions answered before putting an offer on a property.
Here we provide some tips on what to look for when buying a house.
First impressions will always help when selling a home and usually a more aesthetically pleasing home will most likely achieve a higher value. However, it is important that you check the external features to make sure that everything appears in good condition upon further inspection. Whilst it’s important to look for any obvious defects with the property, it’s also worth looking at things that could potentially add value in the long-term.
- Check the roof for design (flat/pitched). Are there any missing tiles?
- Inspect the windows and frames. Are they double glazed? Do the windows have condensation?
- Ask about the orientation, it’s worth checking which way the property faces, usually the most desirable is a South facing garden.
- Check the walls for any cracks.
- Ask the agent whether the house has been extended or perhaps there is potential for further development?
- Check the parking, does the property benefit from on-site parking, is there a garage or is it street parking? If it is street parking find out the process of a residents permit and any costs associated with this. If it’s an apartment ask if it comes with a parking space and also if there is access for visitors parking.
- Take a look at the guttering, does it look new/old? Are there any cracks?
- Look out for any weeds, especially Japanese Knotweed.
Some interior features can be picked up by a quick glance, whereas other things may require further investigation. For example damp around the window or settlement cracks are fairly obvious, however, wifi/phone signal and powerpoints are things that are less obvious but just as important. Checking the quality of the internal products should help you come to a decision as to whether you would want to complete work upon moving in or perhaps there are some interior features that add value and will be beneficial should you move in.
- Attic space – find out if the property has attic space if there is access and is there a possibility of an extension.
- Power points – are there adequate power points throughout the property and check the condition of these.
- Check for any cracks in the plaster. Are they settlement cracks? If they are wide enough to fit a 2 pence coin through, then take note of this.
- Check for damp around windows and in more prone places like the bathroom etc.
- Check your mobile phone signal when you are in the property, as well as making sure to inquire about the current phone and broadband service. If the agent/vendor doesn’t know you should be able to check with your current (or preferred supplier).
- Is the property safe? It’s worth checking all the locks as well as checking for any existing security/alarm systems
- Take a look at the flooring in each room, will any need replacing upon moving in, make a list of the hardwearing flooring, so you can try and estimate any re-flooring costs beforehand.
- In the kitchen, take note of any built-in appliances and ask the vendor whether any additional items are included.
- In relation to the plumbing, be sure to check that the pipes are insulated and check the number of radiators in each room as well as what type of boiler (if applicable is at the property)
- Make sure you check every room for adequate storage, whilst also checking for additional storage provisions, e.g. loft space, utility room, cupboard under the stairs or a shed.
- Your estate agent should be able to provide you with an accurate floorplan with room dimensions, but also get a feel for the space when you are at the property whilst also seeing if there is room to grow there.
The Local Area
Researching your local area should be a top priority, especially if you are new to the area. We recommend writing a list of amenities you would like nearby and rating them in order of importance. For example, public transport links, access to motorway, access to shops, commute to work, gym or a particular school catchment could help your property decision. Realistically, there may not be all of these on your doorstep but by having them prioritised you can work out what’s important to you and if the property is suitable with the number of locations nearby.
- If you like to use public transport, it is worth checking the routes and times to ensure these fit in with your schedule. Working out the nearest bus and train stations will help you work out the practicalities of using this kind of transport should you move there.
- Your commute from work may also be affected by the move, check to see the route especially during peak times to see if you’re affected by any traffic etc.
- Take some time to research the local leisure facilities, are they child-friendly? Reasonably priced?
- If you like to socialise be sure to check out what would be your local pub/bar, go there on the weekend and chat to the locals and get a true sense of the area.
- If schools are a priority, check the school catchment areas to see whether the property falls within the area.
- Check the crime rates in the area, these can usually be found by a simple search online.
- Development in the area – is the property in an area currently undergoing development? Or maybe there are dilapidated buildings nearby? Either way, do some research and make some checks to ensure these wouldn’t cause you any disturbances in the future.
Whilst some of these factors are purely down to preference (not everyone wants to be near there local pub but we can’t see why you wouldn’t…) other details should be looked at and addressed at the viewing either with the estate agent or the vendor. If something catches your eye, perhaps a worrying settlement crack or missing roof tiles then address these issues with your agent. If necessary instruct a property survey before purchasing the property as this could save you time and money in the long run and gives you piece of mind before committing fully to the house.