What to look for when viewing a property

Viewings

When viewing a property there are a number of things to check in advance and points that you might want to consider and bear in mind when viewing properties during your search.  There are a number of considerations in both the Property and in the local area that you might wish to think about.

Are there more Cons than Pros, or is there one big pro that will mean you will have to suffer a lot of cons.  You have to strike the balance and know that the perfect property with all your ideal features may not be in your first property.

The Property

Communal Areas

When you first arrive at the property have a look at the communal area.  You will be able to tell whether the neighbours keep it clear or if the factor does a good job at maintaining it.  You might also tell if there has been structural movement if there are large cracks in walls or ceilings which may have been hidden within the property.


Impact of Daylight

View the property at different times of the day, if possible, to see how much light you would get in each room.  You might also wish it to see if the area feels different at night.


Size of Your Furniture

Measure your furniture you plan on taking with you into your first place and use the largest piece as a guide and don’t be afraid to take a tape measure with you and measure the place up.  You might only get the one opportunity prior to buying.  Whilst this shouldn’t be the deciding factor in a property it might save you time and stress during the moving process.


Storage

Look for how much storage is in the property and any opportunities for extending this.  Whilst you might think you don’t have a lot of stuff it is amazing how much we all accumulate.  Look for loft spaces and where you might be able to lay flooring to increase storage.


Improvements Needed

Are there any major improvements that will be needed before you are able to move into the property?
You should also consider whether improvements are possible to increase the value of the property and what improvements you need to make the property feel like your own.


Lighting

Are there light fittings installed in each of the rooms? Make sure to switch them on to ensure they are installed correctly and are in good working order.


Electrical Socket Location

Check the location of plug sockets.  If you use your phone as an alarm clock a plug by the bed is a must.  You should also consider the location of the electrical sockets should you wish to rearrange the layout.


 

Flooring Level

Whilst you are walking about the property feel underfoot for loose or uneven floor boards. This might result in a project to get the flooring repaired or levelled out.


Heat

Ask the owner about heat retention in the property and how much they tend to spend on heating the property per month.  Look for double glazing on the EPC Report.  Know which floor the property is on as if it is surrounded by other properties you might benefit from the insulation.  Look for the size of the rooms, higher ceilings and older properties will take a lot more to heat every day.


Heat

Ask the owner about heat retention in the property and how much they tend to spend on heating the property per month.  Look for double glazing on the EPC Report.  Know which floor the property is on as if it is surrounded by other properties you might benefit from the insulation.  Look for the size of the rooms, higher ceilings and older properties will take a lot more to heat every day.


Room Sizes

Are the rooms going to be big enough for you and your possessions? Can you survive with a smaller kitchen or bathroom?  Whilst it would be a big project consider whether it would be possible to rearrange the internal layout of the property to accommodate perhaps an additional bedroom?


Size of Kitchen – Work Tops, Storage

If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen the look for how much space you have in this room and importantly how much worktop space you have.


Loft

Is there a loft? Is it accessible by other residents? Has it been floored? Is there valuable storage space you have access to?  These are point that the home report might answer and that the current owner should be aware of.


Garden

Is the garden well maintained? Is it a communal space where you might need to gain permission from other residents or factors before making improvements or changes?


Damp

When viewing the property use your nose to try and smell for damp and look for black patches especially behind furniture or in the back of cupboards.


Roof

Ask the owner of the property if the roof has ever been replaced and if so when.  Roofs do not require frequent replacement but when they do it can be an expensive undertaking.  Inspect the roof during the viewing as you might spot clogged guttering or poor drainage that might result in water ingress into the property.


Double Glazing

Ask the property owner or estate agent if the property has been double glazed. If so when were these installed in the property?


Phone Signal

Bring out your phone during the viewing and check that you can get adequate reception.  You don’t want to have to add changing mobile provider to your to do list soon after moving in.


Taps/Water Pressure

Turn on the taps and check that the water runs clear and the pressure is good.  Do the same for the shower to check the pressure.  Nobody likes a weak shower!


Recent Redecoration

If the property has recently been redecorated ask if there was anything structural that was found during this or what works were carried out.  The owner may have recently decorated to cover cracks, damp etc. which could cause you issue if you purchase it.


Wall/Ceiling Cracks

Look for cracks, major and minor, in the walls and ceilings which could be a sign of a bigger structural issue.


Invasive Plant Species

Look around the garden for species of plant such as Japanese Knotweed or Giant Hogweed.  The presence of these plants can make it difficult for you to get a mortgage and can be very expensive to remove.  The reason is their roots are so deep and can grow into cracks in brickwork and cause significant structural damage. Removal needs to be thorough to ensure it does not return.

You can find a guide to invasive plant species here


Space for Extension

Look around the property to see if there is space for an extension or conservatory, whilst this might not be the first thing on your to do list after buying it may be a consideration for the future as you look to expand the property and add value.


Current Owner


If it is the owner that is showing you round the property find out what is causing them to move home.  Find out what they enjoyed and disliked about living in the property.


 

Can you see yourself living there?

A simple and possibly most important question. You should feel like the property is a fit for you.  Only you can decide this one!

Local Area

School Catchment Area

If you have children, schools catchment areas should be a point to consider.  So make sure to look up to ensure your children will be able to attend the school of your preference.

An interactive map for finding local schools in Scotland can be found on the Education Scotland Website.

A related point to this is the direction of travel to the school and how long it might take you to drop off/pick up the kids. Before buying you might want to consider a test run during rush hour.


Crime Rates

Accessing Police Scotland’s Local Communities Websites can give an indication of what types of crime are prevalent within the area you are buying.

You might also wish to search for news articles relating to the area to understand what events have happened in the past.


Flood Risks

When you view the property have a look for water courses and distance to nearest body of water.  SEPA publish a risk map for Scottish Properties to give you an indication of the likelihood of flooding to you future home.

The level of risk may also have a direct impact on the cost of home insurance.


Electric Pylons/Substations

These can be off-putting to future buyers due to their unsightly nature and claims of impact to health.


Transport Links

How close are you to the nearest bus stop train station or even airport.  Whilst accessibility is good the noise that can result can be off-putting for some.  It is likely you will get used to the noise, so long as you have good quality double glazing installed!


Environment

When viewing the property take some time to walk about the area and look for how well maintained the surrounding area is.  Look out for litter, graffiti and other things that might put you off the area. On the other side look out for positives of the area such as good views, a good distance from busy or loud roads and access to green spaces.


Local Amenities

Having things to do close to your property is important for example leisure centres, play parks or libraries, shopping centres.  On the other hand being too close to these might be disturbing.  Each buyer is different so make a list of what is important to you.


Neighbours

Visit the property a few times, especially at night and at weekends to get a feel of what it might be like to live in the area and if there are any problem neighbours.


Local Medical Services

Proximity to the local hospital, GP surgery and Dentist might not be a deciding factor for purchasing your first property but an important thing to consider sooner rather than later if there is an emergency.


Proximity to Supermarkets

Have a look on the website of your favourite supermarket to find if there is one nearby.  You might also want to put your new postcode into the Home Delivery page to ensure you can get an online shop delivered to you if needs be.


Houses for Sale in the Street

Use websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove to see if there are many other properties on sale in the local area.  You can also look to see the standard of quality of the properties in the surrounding area which might give you a good idea about the neighbours.


Distance to Work

Use Google Maps to find how close you are to your workplace.  There are different settings that can be used to see how long it might take on Public Transport, Driving, Cycling and Walking.  Take into consideration the extra stress that might result for extending your commute.