Eight ways to get the most from viewing a property

Holly Thomas / 01 April 2015

Buying a new home is a massive decision - so it is important to get it right. Holly Thomas shares eight tips to ensure you get the most from viewing houses and don't get stuck with a property that is wrong for you.

Buying a new home is both an exciting and daunting process. It's the biggest purchase you can make, so buying the wrong place can cost you dear  –  in money and patience!

If you are looking for a new home, or about to embark upon a new search, here’s what you need to know...

1 Don't view alone

The more pairs of eyes you have looking around a property the better. 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.

2 Don’t be fooled by a well presented home

Don’t rush a viewing. Look carefully for wet spots, mould, peeling wallpaper and condensation on windows. Check inside cupboards too.

Use your nose - does it smell musty? Look for cracks, brown stains, slow drips and problem leaks.

View the place three or four times at different times of day. The more times you view a house, the more likely you are to spot potential problems.

3 Take a list of questions

Don't be afraid to ask questions – and lots of them. You are well within your rights to have any of your questions answered, and if the agent can’t answer them, ensure they write down your query to follow up afterwards.

4 Take pictures

With smart phones in most households these days, you should be able to take some snaps. It means you can look back at the property and compare it to others to jog your memory. You can see it in your own time at home without the pressure of going around with an estate agent.

Don't get caught out by an estate agent's tricks. Read our guide here. 

5 Case the area

Check out the area during different times of day, as well as evenings and weekends. Nightmare neighbours and their blaring music might only become obvious after dark.

Be mindful if the estate agent won’t allow a viewing during the school run times, if the house is near a school, there might be something to hide!

6 Paying cash?

If you are lucky enough to be a cash buyer, as is often the case when downsizing in later life, then it can help to provide the agent with proof of these funds.

Agents report that many people say they are cash buyers when it turns out they are not. They will not pass any proof on to their client, but will certainly confirm to them that they have seen it and put you in pole position for the house you want.

7 What are the Jones’ up to?

Be wary if neighbours' properties look rundown. Their problems can quickly become your problems – not to mention cause difficulties with re-sale down the line.

Having difficulty selling your house? Read our tips for selling problematic properties. 

8 Talk to locals

Remember, the estate agent and seller have one thing in mind – a sale. If you want to know about a local area, chat to the locals.

Ditch the car and take a walk. Stop and chat in the newspaper shop and to those walking their dogs. They will hopefully be proud to tell you all about the goings-on. It will help you get a feel for the area from independent sources who stand to gain nothing.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.