What to look for when viewing a house for the first time
When viewing a house for the first time, try and be as impartial to it as possible. Even if it is love at first sight, you want to be able to imagine yourself living in the property, yet still be objective enough to see the house in a realistic light.
If you’re buying a home by yourself, it’s always a wise idea to take someone with you for a second opinion, moral support, or just to share the excitement with you when you find ‘the one’!
The most basic things that you should be looking for when viewing a property are:
- Does it have everything that you want, and really need? Consider the number of rooms, the kitchen and bathroom facilities, and garden, garage and parking availability.
- Are the rooms big enough (with storage) to fit your belongings in?
- Is the property in good condition? Look past the décor, which can be changed - are there any signs of damp, damage or rot inside or outside the property?
- Will the property require any renovations or repairs to get it to the standard you want?
Make sure you check all of the rooms, including storage areas, but pay special attention to the bathroom and kitchen, which can be more expensive to refit than any other room. If they aren’t to your taste, you’ll need to consider whether you have the budget for replacements.
You should also inspect the exterior of the building, including brickwork, guttering and roof tiles, as well as the garden and garage if there is one. Look closely, as some damage can be disguised or covered up by a coat of paint. When you’re outside, listen out for any noise from nearby roads, railway tracks or airports too, and this is a good time to consider which direction the property faces – if you’re a sun-lover, you’ll need to check whether or not the property is south-facing.
Feeling happy with it? Make sure you view the property more than once. If you think it’s the one for you, return a second time to double-check, and take another person for a different perspective. If you’re seriously interested in the property, paying for an expert home buyer’s survey would help to identify any potentially expensive issues that you may have missed during your viewing, and may also provide the information you need to negotiate a lower purchase price with the seller.
What to ask when viewing a house
There’s information that may not be obvious or accessible to you during your viewing, so you may need or wish to ask the seller or the estate agent for additional details. Some of these questions may be…
- Related to the sale of the house: Why is the property being sold? When is the seller looking to move? How long have the owners lived there? Have there been any previous offers? How long has the house been on the market? What is included in the sale?
- Related to the condition of the house: Have any major works taken place? Is the property listed? How old is the property? How energy-efficient is the property? Have any rooms been recently redecorated or refurbished? How old is the boiler?
- Related to the area: What are the neighbours like? Do the sellers have any insight into the neighbourhood? What are the rules around parking? What is the traffic around the area like?
- Related to bills: How much is the council tax? How much are utility bills? Is there a service charge for any communal areas?
Our good-to-know tips on house viewing etiquette
Viewing someone’s home can feel daunting, and it’s hard to know what to say, do and how to behave! Here are some guidelines you can follow to ensure you get the most out of your property viewing, whilst building positive rapport with the sellers, who you may need to negotiate with if you decide to put in an offer.
- Be on time – The seller may have other viewings planned and you don’t want to leave them waiting
- Don’t bring too many people with you – Stick with 1-2 per viewing
- Offer to remove your shoes when you arrive
- Ask the seller if you want to take pictures, check behind doors or look in cupboards and drawers
- Don’t be critical of the home in front of the seller, or talk about improvements you’d make – You can make notes on your house viewing checklist to consider or discuss these after the viewing
- If you like something in particular about the home, tell them - It gets your relationship off to the right start
- If you need to cancel your viewing, do so as soon as possible
How to use our house viewing checklist
The list has been designed for you to download and print in A4 size, so you can take a copy with you to any viewings you attend.
The list covers everything you need to know from the start to the end of the viewing, so you can follow it in order as you look around the property. There are comment boxes that you can use to make a note of any questions you may have for the seller or estate agent, or any points you want to research, or thoughts you want to consider later.
We’ve also included a list of key questions to ask during your viewing, so you can get all of the information that you need to make an informed decision. And if you do decide that it’s the right property for you, you may find our blog post on how to make an offer on a house helpful when deciding how much to offer, for the best chance of being accepted.
We hope you find our house viewing checklist useful, and it helps you towards finding your dream home!
Download our Free House Viewing Checklist here
House Viewing Checklist - 1
House Viewing Checklist - 2
If you have any questions about buying your first home, or the mortgages we have available for all types of buyers, one of our qualified mortgage advisers will be able to assist. You can call us or book an appointment at the Newcastle Building Society branch nearest to you.
Your mortgage will be secured on your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.