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Our top ten tips for viewing a house

September 5, 2019

The house-viewing phase might just be the most exciting part of the homebuying process – and so it should be. But taking your viewings seriously is vital in ensuring you end up buying a property that truly suits and works for you. That means you’ll need to come prepared and clued-up, so you can make the most of whatever time you have to get a feel for the home.  

1) Have your agreement in principle in place

Many first-time buyers assume that property viewings are where the buying process starts. But that isn’t true. Ideally, you’ll have spoken to several mortgage lenders and have obtained a mortgage agreement in principle beforehand. This indicates that the lender would be happy to give you a mortgage based upon your current financial circumstances, and so long as the property meets certain criteria. Not only will it mean things move quicker if you do want to buy, but it’ll show the current owner that you’re a serious prospect to sell to.

Do you need a mortgage agreement in principle to view a house? In theory, no. However you may find the seller doesn’t take you very seriously and the process ahead of you – should you want to buy – will take longer. This increases the risk of someone else buying it before you.

Do you need a mortgage agreement in principle to view a house?

In theory, no. However you may find the seller doesn’t take you very seriously and the process ahead of you – should you want to buy – will take longer. This increases the risk of someone else buying it before you.

2) Go for a drive past

If you’ve seen a house you like online or in an estate agent’s window, it might make sense to go have a look from the outside before committing to a full viewing, provided it’s not too far away. It’ll let you get a feel for the area the house is in if it’s unfamiliar to you, which might be a make-or-break factor before you’ve even stepped inside.

3) Prepare your questions

With so much to take in on viewing day, it’s easy for something important to slip your mind. Have another glance at the listing beforehand, and jot down everything you feel you need to know. Some of these will be questions that could apply to any property, such as ‘has any work been completed recently?’, ‘how old are the windows?’ and so on. But make sure you think up plenty of questions that apply to this house specifically, from what you can already see.

If you need more inspiration as to what to ask on viewing day, have a read of our dedicated property viewing questions guide.

4) Take someone with you

There’s always some value in a second opinion. If you’re buying alone, or the person(s) you’re buying with can’t make the viewing, try and rope in a friend or family member. There’s every chance they’ll spot things you don’t and think of questions to ask that slip your mind. If there’s lots to get excited about at the viewing, you could even bounce some ideas off each other.

5) Look out for any red flags

While any property viewing should be fun and exciting, it’s one of the earliest opportunities you’ll have to spot any problems, before you get deeper into the buying process. The building surveys that take place before you exchange should pick up issues anyway, but you may save yourself some heartache by being alert early on.

What should you look for when buying a home?

You should keep an eye out for signs of:

  • Damp, anywhere in the building
  • Unusual sounds or sensations coming from the plumbing
  • Dry rot
  • Japanese knotweed in the garden or on neighbouring properties
  • Water damage
  • Mold or condensation
  • 6) Keep your cards close to your chest

    Knowing how to act when viewing a property can be a challenge. There’s certainly an art to this, but don’t get so worked up about getting it right that you don’t enjoy or make the most of the viewing.

    So, how should you act when viewing a house? The best way to act when viewing a property is to seem keen, but not overly so. You don’t want to indicate to the seller that you’re so in love with the home that you’ll do anything possible to get it – even if that’s the case. That could signal to them that they could push your offer up if you make one. Conversely, don’t go as far as to seem uninterested whenever you view a house. A seller is likely to favour and trust a party who seems engaged and eager, particularly where there’s more than one offer on the table.

    7) Take as long as you need (within reason)

    Buying a house is a big decision and is not something to be taken lightly. It’s easy to think of a viewing as you invading somebody else’s space, and that it’s polite to be in and out as fast as possible. But a house viewing should last for as long as you reasonably need. it’s important you take your time to get a feel for this house and gather all the information you can. After all, the current owners viewed this home once and will likely be viewing others themselves; so should be understanding.

    8) Make a note of what’s included

    One of the questions you’ll certainly need to ask is what fixtures and fittings will be included as part of the sale. With so much to take in on the day, it might be better to make a note of this. This will make things much easier if you’re comparing two or more homes that you’re interested in, and something that’s included in one but not the other could be a deciding factor.

    9) Leave a good impression

    When it all comes down to it, any house sale is little more than a negotiation between two parties. In any negotiation situation, a bit of good will and some friendly demeanor can go a long way. Building a rapport with the seller on the day will make you stick in their mind, and help you be seen as someone they’re happy going through this process with.

    10) Arrange a second viewing

    If you’ve indicated to the seller that you’re a serious prospect, they should be more than happy to let you take another look. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be doubly sure, an you might want to get an opinion from a different friend or family member too. If it’s an option, view the house at a different time of day than you did previously – as you’ll quite literally see it ‘in another light’.

    Whenever you’re buying a house, you’ll need the services of a conveyancer, who’ll complete all the legal work on your behalf. At My Home Move Conveyancing, we’ve years of experience in moving property purchases forward, and complete 21 days sooner than the industry average. If you’re looking into your first home and want to know more about the process, take a look at our handy first time buyers guide.

    Disclaimer: The article above is only a rough guide to give you some general advice of what is involved during a property viewing.

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