So you want to buy a house. House hunting is all about the viewing. Here’s how to make sure a property is really worth your money.
Upon determining your bond repayments with your bond calculator it’s time to start looking around. Looking around a property that could become your new home is exciting, but you can’t afford to get swept up in fantasy, sales pitch and the pressure to purchase…
Failure to use the viewing time effectively and you could miss something that ends up costing you dearly.
Here are ten tips that will help you see what’s really up for sale behind the agent’s sales talk.
1 View during the day
Make sure to view the property at least once in daylight so that you can see it with clarity. If your first viewing was unavoidably at night, push for another viewing in daylight before making an offer. Similarly if you have viewed the property during the day and want a better idea of what the area is like in the evening, you could arrange a second viewing later in the day.
This will give you an idea of how light the property is at different times of the day, how loud the neighbours are and what the neighbourhood is like once evening sets in.
2 View with company
The more pairs of eyes you have looking around a property the better.
If you attend a viewing alone then it’s likely you will be lead around by an agent who do their best to highlight the positive features of the property, not giving you the chance to look closely.
So even if you will be living alone, take a friend or relative to view the property with you as they may spot something you miss.
3 Examine the exterior.
It is easy to get caught up examining the inside of a property and forget to take a thorough look at the outside.
Checking the exterior and the roof as well as the pipes and drainage is essential; if there are any problems they could be expensive to fix.
If any work needs doing you may either want to arrange a professional survey if you are looking to buy, or look for a rental property elsewhere.
4 Take your time
The last thing you want is to have to rush around the property because you have another appointment or viewing booked.
You should leave at least 20-30 minutes to view the inside of a property and a further 20-30 minutes to check the outside and the local neighbourhood.
If you are being shown around by an agent or the owner, try and view the property at your own pace and avoid being rushed through.
5 Consider room and space
An empty flat or house will always look bigger than a fully furnished property, so you need to check that there really is enough room.
Check what the property offers in terms of storage space. For instance, are there built in wardrobes in the bedrooms, or would you need to have space for a wardrobe in each room?
Would your bed, couch, dining table and drawers all fit comfortably or would you be blocking plugs and windows and so on?
In the kitchen, are the white goods built in or would you need to use vital space for a fridge, washing machine or dishwasher? What about the cupboard space, is it expansive enough to fit all of your pots, pans and crockery?
6 Arrange many viewings
Making sure you go back to view a property after the first look can help make sure that you don’t miss any potential issues and ensures that your know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
It also gives you the chance to ask the agent or owner any specific questions that you have after looking around the first time and to negotiate on price if needs be.
7 Take pictures
Taking lots of photos, or even a video, is a great way of ensuring that should you miss something you then have a personal record of the viewing to look back at.
It also means that you can look back at the property and compare it to others you’ve seen in your own time without the pressure of going around with a letting or estate agent.
However, make sure to ask permission before you start snapping away. Although letting agents and estate agents will not usually have an issue with you taking photos, if the owner still lives in the property it is only polite to check.
8 Watch out for damp
Damp can be serious concern regardless of whether you are looking to buy or rent a property, simply because it may illustrate more fundamental problems.
Signs of damp include a musty smell, peeling wallpaper or bubbling paint and mould or dark residue on the walls and ceiling.
If you suspect that the property suffers from damp it need not be a deal breaker but should definitely be an issue you raise with the agent and investigate further.
Any cracks or signs of subsidence may indicate a much more serious problem with the property so make sure you look out for these too.
9 Examine everything
When you are looking around a flat or house, don’t be afraid to test the fittings and fixtures.
Check that the windows open easily and that there is suitable water pressure throughout the property by testing the showers and taps. You are also within your rights to check things like the level of loft insulation, the wiring and electrics during a viewing and it’s a good idea to do so.
Although you may feel awkward testing things in this way, any issues you spot at viewing can either be fixed before you move in or be used to negotiate a reduction in price.
10 Ask the hard questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you are looking to rent or buy, you will be parting with a significant sum of money and you are well within your rights to have any of your questions answered. For example ask about rates, previous renovations, traffic, neighbours, burglaries, state of roof, proximity of schools, state of geyser, the reason why the property is on the market, were there tenants before and so on.