Making the most of the viewing is crucial. In reality you spend very little time viewing a property in relation to the size of the financial commitment you'll be making. You need to make sure you're making the right decision based on your heart and your head.
Here are a few of our top tips to help:
Try to walk or drive past the property before the viewing. Is there parking available? How busy is the area? Make sure you view the area at different times of the day, a street that is quiet during the day could become totally rammed during rush hour.
You can also check the distance from the property to key locations you want to travel to such as work or school, and see what amenities are in the local area.
Lots of agents offer virtual viewings where you can view the property from the comfort of your own home. This could be a property video or a 3D virtual tour. Both of these options could give you an early feel about whether or not you want to visit the actual property.
You can take a virtual tour of the area too using Google street maps and Google Earth. This will help you see what else is in the local area.
Before you go make a list of all the things that are important to you in the property. You can also make a list of questions that you want to ask. That way you go in knowing your priorities and can refer to them throughout the viewing.
If you can, take someone with you. This could be a friend or family member. Not only is this safer, but it's always helpful to talk to someone about your thoughts about the property and the area. You will be able to bounce ideas off them and get a second opinion.
Check the outside first
Does the property have curb appeal? Is there parking? What does the brick work, guttering and roof look like? Have a look at the garden if there is one, what is the soil like? Is it prone to flooding? Are there any trees with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)? Where are the boundaries and what are you responsible for? Whilst any issues will be picked up at a survey, it's good to have your own look first.
Have a good look inside
Is it the right layout for you? If not are there options to renovate? What condition are the kitchen and bathrooms in? Where are the heaters? Are they in good working order? Check the windows are in a good condition.
Don't be afraid to ask when things like heating and windows were last maintained or replaced. Check the corners of rooms and around windows for signs of damp. Has the property recently been decorated? Can you look in the loft or any outbuildings?
There is only so much information you can get from looking around a property, so be sure to ask the person showing you around important questions such as:
Plumbing - how long does it take for hot water to come through, how efficient is the boiler? When was it installed and last serviced? Is there a service record?
Planning permission - has any work been done on the property that required planning permission? Do they have all the certificates? Do they have any guarantees for the boiler or windows if they have recently been replaced?
Bills - it will help to know what average costs are for the various bills, which will include council tax, energy bills and water rates.
What will be included - find out what fixtures and fittings are included in the sale, for example carpets, cooker, curtain poles.
The more you know the easier it is to understand what is likely to happen, and if there is a good rapport they may consider you favourably.
You could also talk to the neighbours to get a feel for who they are. They may be able to give you top tips about what they like and don't like about the area before you commit.
Whilst the agent will be working for the seller, you can talk to them about the property and others in the area as they will be the the local property experts.
Don't rush to make an offer, even if there is pressure to do so from the agent or seller. Make sure you think through whether the property is really right for you. Check your list and compare against your wants and needs. Only make an offer once you're sure it's right for you.