Whether you’re looking to buy a house or rent a flat, it’s important to know what to look for when you’re viewing. We know it’s a complex process, and the viewing usually leaves you feeling that you only got a snapshot. That’s why we’ve created a house viewing checklist for use in the UK, so that you come away feeling that you know everything you need to know about a property and if it’s right for you.
Don’t expect perfection
When viewing a house with a checklist, it’s tempting to think that everything needs to be perfect. It won’t be! When buying a house, the overriding question should be whether what you discover is fairly reflected in the sale price.
When renting, you should also consider price but further consider what the property says about the type of landlord you will experience.
Stanfords House Viewing Checklist
Within each room:
- Check the overall condition, including flooring – look for any signs of mould, condensation or large cracks.
- Check the décor condition and your ability to live with it, or desire to change it.
- Test light switches and look at the number and use of plugs, checking for any exposed wires.
- Consider storage and use of space.
- Ask if fireplaces and chimneys are functional.
- Ask if you can open and close windows, check locks and functionality, and consider the glazing and overlook.
In the bathroom(s):
- Check that all of the taps work and how long it takes hot water to come.
- Ask to see the water pressure in any showers.
- Check baths and shower trays for cracks or any signs of leaks.
- Check extractor fans are operational.
- Check the condition of tiling and how keen you would be to replace this.
In the kitchen:
- Ask which appliances are being sold or rented with the property.
- Check the condition of work surfaces, cupboards, flooring, etc.
- Ask to see the boiler and enquire about the service history (this may reveal its location in a bedroom, in which case check the noise levels).
Outside or in the garden:
- Check the direction that the garden faces.
- Consider whether the garden is overlooked and the privacy afforded.
- Check the condition and delineation of boundaries with neighbours.
- Review the type of garden and the work and maintenance that will be required.
- When outside, look at the exterior brickwork and consider its condition. Look for cracks, damp or deterioration.
- Check drains and gutters look clear and seem to be running clearly.
- If you are able to clearly see the roof, check for missing tiles, the condition of any wood (such as fascias) and that chimneys look straight.
General questions to ask with your house viewing checklist:
- What is parking like? Is there a garage, drive, off-road or on-road parking? If on-road parking, will you need a resident’s permit, and how easy is parking (it can be worth testing this at different times of the day and week).
- Are there any alarms included with the property, such as fire alarms? This is particularly important as part of a house viewing checklist for renting because it indicates that the landlord takes their responsibilities seriously.
- What are the existing broadband and TV connections? How reliable are these?
- What is mobile coverage like?
- Where is the fuse box? How old is it and when was it last checked?
- What is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating?
Additional things to consider on your checklist for viewing a house to buy
When viewing a house to buy, there are some additional considerations.
Importantly, check about the potential for adding future value. This may be through extending, renovating, or converting loft space. Ask to see any planning permission and other paperwork for any changes to the property that have already been done.
Ask about any neighbouring spare land and whether there are development plans for the area. Check if the property is in a conservation area or indeed, whether the property is listed.
Spend some time in the local area
The property that you are buying or renting is important, but of key importance is the wider area. Spend some time, on different days of the week and at different times, scoping out the local area.
Consider nearby schools, pubs and venues for noise. Discover what the local traffic is like at rush hour. Work out your potential commute to work and public transport links. Make sure that there are sufficient local shops and amenities for your needs.
If you’re viewing a flat
The general principles of the house viewing checklist are also relevant if you are buying or renting a flat. However, you also need to consider:
- If buying, check if it is freehold or leasehold, and how many years are left on the lease.
- Ask about service and maintenance charges, as well as management and residents’ committees.
- Look at communal areas and check their condition.
- Ask about shared services
- Try to ascertain how much noise is heard from neighbours.
Advice to make the most of your house viewing checklist
With the way of buying and renting property in the UK being as it is, it’s essential that you use the viewing carefully and strategically. Take your time; you should feel comfortable taking around 30 minutes for a viewing of an average sized house.
Try not to be overly swayed by décor, but look beyond it to the condition of the property, while also noting the time, expense and effort needed to make any changes. Look carefully, and if in doubt, ask.
Go back. It’s very difficult to notice everything on one viewing. Be aware of properties moving fast, but if you can, go back and view the property at another time of day.
We strongly recommend that you get a professional survey done when buying a property, in addition to any valuation survey required by your mortgage provider. This will help to look beyond what you can see and reveal any potential concerns.
Talk to us
As your estate agent, we are here to help when you are viewing a property. The seller isn’t legally obliged to tell you of any known serious problems with the property, but the estate agent is. You can also ask us about the length of time the property has been on the market and how popular it is proving to be.