The UK’s competitive property market is currently seeing renters and buyers take an average of 60 seconds and 30 minutes respectively to decide on the suitability of a property, according to research. But since this major decision deserves consideration beyond an hour, it’s crucial to take into account various factors. Only then will you end up making a well-rounded decision – based on knowledge, rather than out of convenience – on the right property for you. To help you get started, we break down the process of viewing a property effectively; whether you’re renting or buying as the rules essentially remain the same.
Before a viewing
- Address your criteria
Think about the type of property that would complement your lifestyle needs. For instance, if you’re a light sleeper you may not appreciate living on or near a main road. Perhaps, you’d be better suited to living on a quiet cul de sac. Likewise, if you’re easily disturbed by noise pollution you may prefer to opt for a detached house so you don’t overhear the likes of neighbours’ arguments.
If you’re after a shorter commute and intend to stay in a rental property for the working week – before returning to your main residence during the weekends – it makes more sense to choose a smaller furnished property, such as a flat or an apartment, requiring less maintenance. For those of you who tend to drive to places, you’ll require a property that doesn’t compromise on adequate parking space. Alternatively, if you’re more inclined to using public transport you should be looking for a place with excellent nearby transport links.
Another determining factor lies in house sharing, i.e. a house in multiple occupation (HMO). You need to think about whether you’d be comfortable sharing your home with other people, especially if you’re quite taken with a certain property.
Once you have a good idea of your criteria, you’ll be able to approach your property search with more confidence and reasoning.
- Be quick, part one
Keeping in mind an inevitable high demand for good properties, you’re better off opting for a letting or estate agent that provides you with property alerts which will inform you of newly listed properties. This will ensure you’re the first prospective tenant to arrange viewings for shortlisted properties that are in line with your criteria.
During a viewing
- Take someone with you
It’s better to attend viewings accompanied by a friend, relative, or, better still, the person/people you’ll be buying or renting property with. This will make you feel more comfortable when vocalising and processing thoughts and feelings. When later discussing the various properties you’ve viewed, you’ll be able to point out the ones that do meet your (combined) expectations whilst eliminating those that don’t.
- Don’t rush
Buying or renting a property is a milestone so it needs to be thought about carefully. Give yourself enough time to view each room in order to take in its details – both good and bad. A minimum of an hour should be enough time to look at the properties internal and external offerings.
- Make notes
As you move from room to room, jot down the strengths and weaknesses – you’ll be able to refer to these later when weighing up whether or not the latter, i.e. areas that would require improvement and incur an additional cost, is trumped by the former. If so, it’ll be easier to make a shortlist of prospective properties.
- Find out what will be included
Try not to get caught up in the property’s furnishings because, for all you know, they may not even be included in the final sale or let. But if they are, they’re easily replaceable. So instead, stick to using sofas, beds, and cupboards as a means of visualising the potential of a fully-decorated room.
It’s more important to focus on the fixtures and fittings such as the cooker, fridge, dishwasher etc. Since these are expensive appliances – which could add to your redecoration bill – you need to clarify with your estate or letting agent as to what will be included. This will help you budget accordingly if and when seriously considering the property in question.
- Photograph key rooms and features
There’ll be times when written notes aren’t enough to refresh your memory about the property they refer to; in which case, it’s useful to take pictures as you explore the house – provided the property’s owner has given you permission to do so, prior to the viewing taking place.
- Measure rooms
There’s no point in hypothetically reserving your brand new sofas for the property’s living room or assigning a room for your favourite cupboard if there’s not enough space for it when factoring in your remaining furniture. Prioritise practicality over aesthetics – get out your tape measure to get an idea of the numbers.
- Check the storage space
Apply this tip to rooms where you’ll want to store things away, for example, the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. Storage space is crucial when determining the use of a room. Find out what’s reality. Do the bedrooms have built-in wardrobes? Does the kitchen provide enough cabinets for you to store pots, pans, and cutlery? Is there also potential for other storage options such as shelves? Even in limited space, there can be clever storage options.
- Investigate the structure
To determine if a property is structurally sound or not, pay careful consideration to the following:
- The maintenance of gutters, piping, and roofing;
- Major cracks where extensions such as conservatories and loft conversions join as well as bay windows;
- Damp but as there won’t necessarily be visible signs – such as mould, peeling wallpaper, and bubbling paint – pay attention to any musky smells that are a giveaway;
- Energy performance and gas safety certificates;
- Doors and windows should be opened, closed, locked, and unlocked to test that they’re in working order;
- Bath and shower taps and toilet flush – do they work? What about a water supply throughout the house? And electrical wiring; do light switches and sockets work? Fixtures such as these are expensive so it’s important to be aware if they’ll need changing as you’ll have to factor these into your budget.
If you identify problems, don’t be shy to ask your estate or letting agent if they will be fixed before you potentially move in or if they would result in negotiating a reduced price.
- Local amenities
Ask to be shown what the local area offers in terms of transport links, shops, bars, restaurants as these will influence the lifestyle you will lead.
After a viewing
- Arrange another viewing
Pick the opposite time of day to your first viewing. For instance, if you fell in love with the property in the evening, view it again but in the morning. A second viewing gives you the chance to assess the property once again, noticing aspects you may have previously overlooked. This will prompt you to ask more questions, cementing your decision on whether or not to buy or rent.
- Be quick, part two
As established earlier, whilst it’s understandable for every individual to have their own criteria for what makes an ideal home, the ‘perfect’ property simply doesn’t exist. This ideal only comes along once you’ve moved into the property and personalised it to make it your own. So don’t be painstakingly picky. Once you recognise that 70 to 80% of your needs are met, don’t hesitate to make an immediate offer.
Regardless of whether you’re a first-time or an experienced buyer or renter, there’s always something new to be learned along the way. So we hope these tips help you to carry out an effective viewing in order to be a step closer to securing your ideal home. Call 020 7078 0214 to talk one of our agents here at Kingsley Hamilton Estates – the name you can trust to help manage all of your property needs.