Thinking of moving house? Here are some key points to consider when viewing properties.

Choosing a property is likely to be one of the biggest decisions you make in your life, so it’s worth giving it some careful thought to ensure you get it right. Here is some advice on what to look for when you start the search…

Do your homework on the area

Before you view a property, do your research on the area, especially the street you may be living in. If you want to ensure you have made a sound investment for the future, it may be better to have a smaller property in a nice area rather than a bigger house in a less desirable area.

Think about where the property is in relation to shops and businesses. If you are near a pub or a takeaway shop that gets noisy in the evenings, this may put you off and could also deter prospective buyers when you come to sell the property in the future. Or you may be about to view a house near a school that is likely to generate heavy morning traffic that you simply wouldn’t want when you’re trying to get your car off the drive.

It’s worth visiting the street where you may live on several occasions at different times of the day. If the property doesn’t have a driveway and you are expected to park on the street, are there likely to be enough spaces? Visit in the evenings when people are home from work and there will be more cars around.

It may also be important for you to think about schools in the area and how conveniently placed the property is to the best schools. Having a home near a train station may be useful for you and good for future property prices. You may also want to consider how close you are to a main road. For some, access to a main road that transports them easily to a motorway may be ideal… for others, a more remote location may be preferable.

Here are some key things to think about when viewing a property…

Watch out for damp

Check to see if paint has peeled, or if there are any stains on the ceiling. Other signs of damp may be a musty smell, peeling wallpaper or condensation on windows. A small patch of damp on a wall may not be a huge issue, but if not dealt with promptly it can get worse quite quickly. Plus it can make health issues such as asthma worse and make you more susceptible to respiratory infections and allergies. It can also affect your immune system.

Look for any cracks

It’s hugely important to ensure the property is structurally sound, and while any issues will show up in a surveyor’s report, you can get a good idea of what the situation may be when you view the property. Hairline cracks are normal but look for big cracks, especially where extensions join, as these could be signs of a serious issue.

Ask about the age of the roof

How old is the roof of the property you are viewing? Newer ones typically only last for around 15-20 years and replacing roofing is expensive. Any issues with the roof should show up in the survey. A flat roof may cause a problem with flooding so find out what material was used to seal it and check with a surveyor or builder that this is sufficient to keep it sealed.

Make sure the layout suits you

Does the layout of the property suit your needs? Does it have enough bedrooms? Even if you don’t have a big family you may want to use one or two of the spare rooms as an office or creative space. Are you likely to need two bathrooms? What about the kitchen space? Does it suit you? If you like to cook you may want a spacious kitchen, or if you love to entertain you may want a big open plan area on the ground floor rather than several smaller rooms. If the property has a garden, does the size of it appeal to you? If you are not green-fingered then a huge garden may be a burden. If on the other hand, you love gardening then a small garden with a limited greenery may be a let-down.

Think about what needs doing

If you are viewing an old property then you may have to carry out repairs or maintenance work. This will need to be factored into your budget and you will need to ensure you have time to carry out the work or know someone who does.
If you love a project, then an older property may be ideal for you. If on the other hand, you just want to relax at the end of a busy day and not have to worry about maintenance or decorating, a modern property may be more suitable. If the property is very old, home appliances may also be old unless they were recently replaced. Check this with the vendor.

Find out if there is any noise

If you are viewing a house that’s joined to another house or a flat and the vendor has the radio or TV on, ask them to turn it down so that you can tell how much noise, if any, you can hear through the walls. You want to ensure you find a home that is quiet and peaceful, and that any noise is minimal.

Consider any maintenance work

When you view the property, make a mental list of any repairs or maintenance work that may need to be done so that you can work out roughly what this would cost. Some work may be purely cosmetic, which means there’s no rush to get it done, but other tasks like dealing with a blocked drain or roofing problems could be expensive.

Check the plumbing is in good order

Ask if the pipes are insulated. Check the radiators and run the taps to check the water pressure. Ask how old the boiler is as they can be expensive to replace.

Enquire about energy costs

A big house could be expensive to heat, and you’d need to factor this into your monthly budget. Ask what the energy costs are per month.

Know what you’ll need to spend

Be aware of the cost of moving. You may need to pay a mortgage arrangement fee of between £1000 to £2000 and a valuation fee which varies depending on the value of the property. You will need to pay for a home buyer’s report. Again fees vary. In addition, you may want to have a structural survey carried out (fees on this vary) which provides detailed advice on repairs that may be needed. This may be a good idea on an older property.

On top of that, there will be legal fees as you will need to instruct a solicitor if you choose to go ahead and buy. This will cost around £900 to £1500 and you will need to pay for a buildings survey which can cost between £500 to £1200. Finally there’s moving costs, which can be around £600 to £1000.

Don’t be fooled by cosmetic appearance

Décor can be changed and improved quickly and relatively cheaply. You can always decorate and make the house look how you want it to look without spending a fortune, but issues with the roof, heating or plumbing could be expensive. Check that everything is structurally sound before committing.

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