Complete 2023 Guide.

Checklist For Buying
Your First Home.

House-Viewing Checklist 2023: What to Look for When Buying a House

Buying a home will likely be the biggest purchase of your life.

So, why rush?

Many home buyers fall into the trap of breezing through their house viewing, leaving them with a very expensive headache once they buy.

To avoid this, the following blog will provide a simple checklist of what to look for when buying a house in 2023.

Let’s begin:

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15 Things To Look For When Buying A House

1. Take Your Time When Viewing a Property

If you’re asking what to do first when buying a house, perhaps the best tip is to take your time.

The rush of house hunting and potentially stepping inside your dream home can be a powerful one, but it’s important that you take a step back, relax, and take it all in.

You’ll want to check out as much as possible during a property viewing and get a feel for the place.

After all:

You’ll be spending a good chunk of your life here, so there’s no point rushing.

Home buyers should take AT LEAST 20 to 30 minutes to view the property, with Which? finding that 71% of buyers who spent more than 90 minutes on viewings paid below the asking price.

2. Check the Building Structure

Many potential buyers fall into the trap of just checking what’s inside the property, but the outside may hold far more insight into the problems you may face.

It’s important you take a walk around the outside of the property and check for any wall cracks, both large and hairline, to save yourself a world of hurt in the future.

Fixing structural damage can be expensive:

You don’t want to be left with a hefty bill after already spending thousands on your dream home.

After noticing issues, you can then ask the estate agent for more information or ask a surveyor to investigate further down the home buying process.

3. Watch Out for Damp

Unfortunately, sellers have no legal obligations to tell you about a homes problems.

In fact, they may actively try to cover them up.

This means you’ll need to keep an eye out to see if there is any damp.

If you’ve got a keen nose, it’s time to use it.

Damp can give off a mouldy smell, so be sure to look for any unfamiliar odours.

Some other signs of damp include:

  • Flaky plaster
  • Water stains
  • Air freshener to cover up the smell
  • Fresh paint to cover up damp

4. View the Property More Than Once

You may feel it necessary to complete your property purchase as fast as possible.

But this can be a mistake:

The appeal of a home can change throughout the day, with quiet streets of a morning becoming grid-locked commuter chaos in the evening.

For this reason, if you’re wondering how many viewings you should take, it’s recommended you do at least two, ideally at different times of the day.

You won’t be alone in doing this, either:

Research from Which found that 43% of home buyers viewed their property twice.

5. Ask What Land is Included With Your New House

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to ask exactly what you’re getting with the asking price of the property.

You should clear up any potential issues regarding a parking space or a garden to know what comes with your home.

It’s even a good idea to get this in writing before you push ahead with your house hunting.

The last thing you want is to upset your neighbours with parking issues on your first day.

6. Get a Professional Survey

While you should keep an eye out for any potential issues when viewing a property, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional.

Although the home will likely undergo a valuation survey by your mortgage lender, this doesn’t look into any structural issues that can arise.

Quite simply, the valuation survey is there for your mortgage lenders benefit, not yours.

As such, it’s a smart idea to get your own survey completed to uncover any potential issues your untrained eyes can’t detect.

7. Check Out the Neighbourhood

While you can fix and change almost anything about a property, there’s one thing you can’t change:

Its location.

The surrounding area of your property is perhaps just as important as the property itself, and you’ll need to spend a good amount of time researching.

What you research will depend on what’s important to you, but it’s generally a good idea to consider:

  • The quality and proximity of local schools.
  • Crime rates in your local area.
  • Local shops and restaurants.
  • Quality of transport links and public transport.
  • The types of neighbouring properties, for instance student HMOs.

The location is likely the most important thing to look for when buying a house and getting on the property ladder, so make sure to allocate some time doing this.

8. Don’t Get Emotionally Attached Too Early

Searching the housing market for your next home is an emotional experience, but you shouldn’t let your heart rule your head.

While you may think you’ve found your dream home, you might be overlooking big issues that can haunt you later down the line.

Here’s the best advice we can give:

Don’t compromise.

Buying a home will be the biggest purchase you’ll make and you deserve to find a home that meets all your needs.

Saying that, you shouldn’t let some issues put you off buying.

In fact, some pricey problems can be used as a negotiation tactic to lower the purchase price.

9. Quiz Your Estate Agent

Think you’ve found the perfect home for you?

Before making a decision, it’s a smart idea to talk to the estate agent to find out more about the property.

While home sellers don’t need to disclose serious problems, estate agents are legally obliged to do so, which means you can ask them all the burning questions you have.

These can include:

  • How long has the owner lived in the property?
  • Why is the owner selling?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • How many viewings has the property had?
  • Have any offers been made for the house?

If the homeowner is moving quickly or the property has been on the market for a while, these could be tell-tale signs that not everything is as it appears.

10. Think About the Storage Space

Available space for storage can be one of the most important parts of a house, but it can surprisingly be overlooked.

You should try and picture yourself living in the house and consider the essentials you’ll need to store away.

Think:

  • Where will I keep my vacuum cleaner?
  • Is there anywhere to put my junk?
  • What about my clothes?

If the majority of the storage space is in your attic, you’ll need to think about how accessible and practical this is for storing your items.

New build houses can often fall short on the storage front, which could be a potential deal breaker if you have a lot of possessions.

11. Check Which Way the House Faces

Which way the house faces? You’re joking, right?

While it can be an odd thing to consider, checking which way your house faces can actually be incredibly important for your future happiness.

Think about it:

Natural light can brighten up a household and warm up a garden, but what happens if the house isn’t positioned well for this?

This is why it’s a good idea to bring a compass with you on your viewings (yes, really) to see which way the sun will rise and set in relation to your home.

12. Consider the Room Size

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’ll be surprised how many people get caught out and unable to fit their furniture into a new home.

It’s a good idea to think about the room dimensions and your existing furniture to see if everything lines up right.

You should especially take notice of this if you’re buying a new build, with some developers known for putting smaller furniture in rooms to make it seem bigger.

13. Make Sure the Plumbing is Working

A good plumber can cost an arm and a leg, so it’s best to make sure everything is working before you buy the property.

To do this, it’s a good idea to:

  • Run the taps and check for water pressure
  • See if the radiators are working
  • Find out how old the boiler is
  • Ask if the pipes are insulated and if they are lead (which would need to be replaced)

All these questions can save you a world of hurt and could spare you a fair penny.

14. Ask About the Roof

If you’ve ever had roofing issues before, you’ll know one thing:

Roofing is expensive.

With the potential to cost you thousands of pounds, having an old, damaged roof is a hassle you want to avoid.

With this in mind, be sure to ask how old the roof is, and have your surveyor takes a good look at the quality.

15. Check Out the Number of Power Points

Our final tip on this list is to check out the number of power points.

In a world of gadgets, smartphones, and Netflix, available power sockets can be a big selling point for the modern homebuyer.

You should also keep a keen eye on the wiring situation during your viewing.

Like plumbing and building work, faulty wiring can be both dangerous and pricey.

It’s important you check out the fuse board on your viewing, although a surveyor will be able to tell you if it needs fixing.

Download Your Complete 2023

Questions to Ask When Viewing a Property

You can check out the full list of questions by downloading our free checklist at the top of the page.

But below we’ve listed a bunch of questions you should ask yourself (and the estate agent) when viewing a property:

Inside the House

Once inside the home, these are the following questions you should ask.

  1. Do the lights work?
  2. Is the flooring damaged?
  3. Is there any damp?
  4. Are there cracks in the walls?
  5. How many power ports are there?
  6. Is there storage?
  7. Do the windows and doors open easily?
  8. Do the locks work?
  9. Do the taps work?
  10. What’s the water pressure like?

In the Garden

  1. Is the garden overlooked?
  2. What direction is the garden?
  3. Does it require work or maintenance?

Outside the Home

  1. Is the brickwork damaged?
  2. Is the roof damaged or missing tiles?
  3. Are the gutters clean?
  4. Is there space to park your car?
  5. Does the house have functional fire and burglar alarms?
  6. Is there room to extend the home?
  7. What broadband speeds can you get in the area?
  8. Are you close to a school?
  9. Is it leasehold or freehold?
  10. Are you close to a flood zone (which could impact insurance premiums)?
  11. What amenities are there in the local area?
  12. Do you hear noise from the neighbours?
  13. Is there a service charge or ground rent to pay?
  14. Are there any shared services?
  15. If the property is leasehold, when does the lease run out?