What to Look for when Buying a Property | NatWest

What to look for when buying a property

Get the most out of your home viewing

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Booking a viewing is one of the most exciting things about moving house. After all, this is your first chance to see what might turn out to be your dream home! As thrilling as that may be, there's still work to be done.

With some viewing appointments only lasting around 15 minutes, you've got a lot to accomplish in a short space of time. To ensure you get the most out your viewing, we've put together a guide to help you know what to look out for.

Check out the surrounding area

Before you see yourself living in the property, don't forget to check out the local area. A lot of your research can take place online, such as investigating the neighbourhood's crime rates, or using the government’s planning portal to shed light on any major works coming up nearby. You can also find out council tax, broadband speeds, transport costs and school league tables online – so you can get a feel for the neighbourhood even before you set off for your viewing.

 

When you visit the property, explore your surroundings in person:

 

  • Are there amenities nearby or will you need to drive for miles just to get a pint of milk?
  • Is there off-road parking available? If there's an allocated parking space, is it included in the purchase?

Spend at least half an hour touring the general area, stopping in at any parks, coffee shops and pubs, and try to come by at different times of the day.

 

If you're buying a terrace or flat, don't forget to scout out the neighbours and how they maintain their property. If you can, take the time to talk to them before putting in an offer, to get a good feel for the area.

Freshen up interiors

While the cost of installing a new bathroom can run well into the thousands, there's a lot to be said for something as easy as applying fresh grouting and new sealant. Replacing a mouldy shower curtain or installing a shower screen are other affordable options to consider.

 

Anyone viewing your home will want to see themselves living there, so remember that what suits your taste may not necessarily match theirs. Painting interior walls in neutral colours is a good way to abate this.

Determine the terms of the sale

If you've decided to put in an offer, it's important to determine what exactly you'll be paying for. Will the white goods remain or will you have to buy these yourself?

 

If the property is a leasehold, ask about ground rent and maintenance costs, and be sure to check the communal areas of the building such as stairwells and outside areas as you'll be paying towards these too. Equally important for a leasehold is how long there's left on the lease - extending it can be very expensive, so watch out for any property that has fewer than 80 years remaining.

Look at the property's condition

While a survey further down the line will shed light on most issues, it's good to get a general idea of the property's state before making an offer:

 

  • Take a look at the windows - soft wooden frames could indicate rot, which can be costly to repair. And while double glazing is often a plus, take a closer look at them - do the locks work well? Is there a draft? If there's steam between the panes, this could mean that they're faulty.
  • While some things can easily be remedied, such as a paint colour , make sure to look out for more costly repairs. Cracks in walls and ceilings could point to subsidence, while you should be able to spot any damp issues.
  • If there's no central heating, ask yourself if you'd consider using electric heaters (which can be costly to run), or if you'd want to install your own heating.
  • Remember not to be fooled by staging. If all the lights are on during the day, turn a few off to see if the room is well lit by natural light. If there's a TV or music on, ask for it to be switched off too – it could be used to drown out noisy neighbours. 
  • Ensure all the rooms are big enough to suit your needs, and when you look at the kitchen, try to imagine yourself cooking a meal in it – is there enough room or could you consider reworking the space? Storage areas are equally important. You'll need to think about where you'll keep your vacuum cleaner and anything else you'll want to keep out of sight. Is there an attic or basement, and are they easily accessible?
  • With every room you enter, check that the doors open and close properly. External doors are the most important here, especially where your home insurance is concerned. Most policies need you to have deadlocks on both front and back doors, and while you're inspecting them, look out for signs of break-ins.
  • Finally, look out for electric outlets. Make sure there are enough available for you, and that they are in good condition.

Ask the right questions

Be sure to ask the estate agent or owner as many questions as you can. To gauge interest, ask how many offers it's had, and how long it's been on the market for. If the property is in a popular area but is failing to sell, this may point to some issues you may not have seen yet. Ask how long the sellers have lived in the property, and why they want to sell. You'll also want to know the seller's situation, so find out if they're in a chain, and if they're looking for a quick sale or not.

 

Prompt the estate agent to explain the asking price, and if there have been any recent renovation works. To ensure you don't pay any unforeseen costs, see if you can find out when the property was last rewired, and ask for any gas and electric reports.

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