The only property viewing checklist you’ll need

For a detailed and efficient approach to house viewing, check out our comprehensive checklist. It covers everything from structural assessments to interior inspections, ensuring you make a well-informed decision when buying a home. This checklist is a must-read for anyone in the house-hunting process, providing valuable insights and tips to navigate through potential properties effectively.

Published under Buying and Our blog — Apr 2024
The only property viewing checklist you’ll need

When it comes to finding your dream home, following a detailed house viewing checklist is crucial. Equipped with the right information, you can navigate the house hunting process with confidence, ensuring that your final decision is one you'll be happy with for years to come. Don't forget these questions to ask when buying a house for a thorough evaluation. If you're planning to buy a new home and sell your current one, start with a free house valuation with us today. For those not ready to move but still curious about their home's value, our online property valuation tool provides a quick estimate of your property's worth.

Why a House Viewing Checklist is Essential

Before diving into the specifics, it's crucial to understand why a house viewing checklist is an important factor to your home buying journey. Not only does it keep you organised and focused during viewings, but it also helps you compare properties objectively, beyond your initial first reaction. For those embarking on this exciting path, familiarise yourself with the steps toward homeownership with this helpful guide.

The Comprehensive House Viewing Checklist

 

Structural Integrity & Exteriors:

Evaluating a home's structural integrity and exterior conditions is crucial for ensuring its longevity, safety, and cost-effectiveness in maintenance.

Roof Condition

  • Importance: Protects against weather, prevents water damage, and enhances energy efficiency.
  • Key Checks: Assess age and material for lifespan expectations. Look for missing or damaged shingles and signs of water damage. Sagging or uneven roof lines are red flags.
  • Pro Tip: A professional inspection can reveal hidden issues, offering a detailed assessment beyond surface appearances.

Walls and Foundations

  • Importance: Forms the home's structural backbone, with issues potentially leading to serious damage and costly repairs.
  • Key Checks: Examine for large or diagonal cracks, signs of dampness, and mould. Observe if doors and windows operate smoothly, as difficulty can indicate foundational shifts.
  • Pro Tip: Recent cosmetic repairs may hide underlying problems. A professional evaluation can offer peace of mind and detailed insights.

In essence, a thorough inspection of the roof, walls, and foundation not only helps in assessing a property's current condition but also in anticipating future maintenance needs. This vigilance can guide your decision-making process, ensuring you're well-informed about the investment you're considering.

Interior Inspection

When viewing a house, it's critical to assess the functionality and state of its internal systems and features. This not only ensures comfort but can also prevent future expenses.

Plumbing:

  • What to Check: Run taps to check water pressure and hot water function. Inspect under sinks for leaks or signs of water damage. Flush toilets to ensure proper drainage and check for running water sounds that could indicate leaks.
  • Why It Matters: Plumbing issues can lead to water damage, mould, and costly repairs. Ensuring everything is in working order can save you from unpleasant surprises.

Electrical:

  • What to Check: Test all light switches and power outlets for functionality. Look for modern, grounded outlets in necessary areas (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens) and check the electrical panel for organisation and labelling.
  • Why It Matters: An up-to-code electrical system is crucial for safety, preventing fire hazards, and accommodating modern appliances and technology.

Heating and Cooling Systems:

  • What to Check: Inquire about the age and maintenance history of the heating and cooling systems. Test them to see if they're working efficiently and evenly across different areas of the house.
  • Why It Matters: Older or poorly maintained systems can be less efficient, leading to higher energy bills and potential for costly replacements or repairs.

Windows and Doors:

  • What to Check: Examine windows and doors for drafts by feeling for air leaks and checking the seals. Ensure windows open and close smoothly and that doors latch securely. Evaluate the condition of locks for security purposes.
  • Why It Matters: Properly sealed and functioning windows and doors improve energy efficiency, reducing heating and cooling costs, and enhance home security.

Space and Layout

The interior configuration of a home greatly influences its livability and can impact your daily life and future adaptability of the space.

Room Size

  • Why It's Important: The size and layout of rooms determine not just the immediate usability of the space but also its flexibility for future changes. Whether it’s accommodating growing family needs, hobbies, or work-from-home setups, the way a house is laid out can significantly affect its functionality.
  • What to Consider: Look beyond the current setup and imagine your furniture in the space. Is there enough room for movement? Does the living area flow logically into the dining and kitchen areas? Consider the privacy of bedrooms and the convenience of bathrooms. For future needs, think about the potential for repurposing rooms as your lifestyle or family structure changes.

Storage Space

  • Why It's Important: Adequate storage is essential for maintaining an organised and clutter-free home. It contributes significantly to the livability and aesthetic appeal of your space. From seasonal items and clothing to everyday necessities, having a designated place for everything can make daily life smoother and more efficient.
  • What to Look For: Don’t just count the closets; look at their location, size, and configuration. Are they well-distributed throughout the house? Check for additional storage areas like pantries, linen closets, attic space, and garage shelving. Remember, the more storage options available, the easier it is to keep the home tidy and organised.

Legal and Administrative

Property Documents

  • Why They’re Important: Property documents provide legal proof of what has been promised or claimed about the property. They include titles, deeds, zoning permits, and warranties. These documents ensure the property complies with local building codes and regulations, and they can protect you from future legal issues.
  • What to Check: Verify that the property has a clear title, free of any liens or disputes. Check for recent building permits, which indicate any recent improvements or additions are legally approved. Warranties for any recent work (like a new roof or appliances) can also be a bonus, offering peace of mind and potential cost savings.

Neighbourhood and Surroundings

  • Why They Matter: The neighbourhood influences your daily life significantly, impacting your comfort, convenience, and even the long-term value of your investment. Factors like safety, proximity to amenities (schools, parks, shopping), and noise levels contribute to the overall living experience and satisfaction.
  • What to Consider: Research the area’s crime rates and speak to potential neighbours to gauge the safety and community vibe. Consider the convenience of nearby amenities and whether they align with your lifestyle needs. Visit the property at different times of the day to observe traffic patterns and noise levels. Future development plans for the area can also affect your decision, potentially impacting your home’s value and living conditions.

First-Time Buyers’ Insights

By keeping these points in mind, first-time buyers can approach the process with confidence. Here are some key points to keep in mind that can help demystify the process and set you up for success:

  • Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the home-buying process, from searching for properties to closing the deal. Knowledge is power, and understanding each step can significantly reduce anxiety.
  • Budget Wisely: Understand all the costs involved, not just the purchase price. This includes closing costs, home inspections, insurance, and potential repairs or upgrades. Make sure to budget for these additional expenses.
  • Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage: Before you start house hunting, get a mortgage pre-approval. It gives you a clear idea of what you can afford and shows sellers you’re serious and financially prepared.
  • Prioritise Your Needs vs. Wants: Identify what you need in your first home versus what you want. Focusing on your needs will help narrow down your search and keep you within budget.
  • Consider the Future: Think about how long you plan to stay in the home and how your needs may change. This can affect the type of home you buy and its location.
  • Inspect Thoroughly: Never skip the home inspection. It can uncover issues that could cost you significantly in the future. Use a reputable inspector and attend the inspection if possible.
  • Seek Professional Help: A good real estate agent can be invaluable, especially for a first-time buyer. They can guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and help you find the perfect home.
  • Be Prepared for Competition: In many markets, homes can go quickly. Be prepared to make decisions and offers promptly but also know when to walk away if the fit isn’t right or the price is too high.
  • Stay Flexible: You might not find the perfect home right away, and that’s okay. Be open to adjusting your criteria or exploring different areas to find the best home for your budget and needs.
  • Understand the Commitment: Buying a home is a significant commitment, not just financially but also in terms of maintenance and responsibilities. Make sure you’re ready for the step.

For more information on the process of finding your first property check out our in depth guide for first time buyers..

Planning for the Future

While the physical aspects of the house are immediately apparent, consider the long-term aspects as well. Is there room for your family to grow? Are there schools nearby? How about the commute to work? Pondering these questions early on can save you from future regrets. For those contemplating the next steps in their housing journey, explore: Thinking of a New Home? Here’s What to Consider.

Making the Most of Your House Viewings

Here are a few tips to maximise the effectiveness of your house viewings:

  • Take Your Time: Don't rush through viewings. Take the time to thoroughly inspect each property.
  • Visit at Different Times: A house can feel different at various times of the day. Visit at least twice, if possible.
  • Document Your Visits: Take photos and notes for each property to help you remember and compare them later.
  • Ask Questions: Don't hesitate to ask the seller or agent about any concerns. It's better to know about any issues beforehand.

Conclusion: Trusting Your Instincts

While a house viewing checklist is a helpful way of finding your dream property, remember to also follow your gut. Sometimes, a house just feels like home. By combining thorough research, detailed inspections, and a touch of intuition, you should be on your way to finding the perfect home for you and your family. Remember, this journey is as much about finding a house that meets your criteria as it is about discovering a space where you can create lasting memories. For more information about purchasing a home contact us here

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