House viewing checklist
Planning to view a property or host your own open house? Read our guide.
Property market insight
Viewing a home is where the magic happens.
Let’s face it — there’s a time and a place for solicitors, surveyors and scaling the mountain of paperwork, but the moment you first set eyes on a property is what it’s all about.
In this guide, we’ll look at everything you need to know about viewings, from putting your own home on the market to viewing properties as a buyer.
Questions to ask when viewing a house
It’s very easy to get giddy when viewing a property, and while excitement is completely understandable, there are some cold, hard facts you’ll want to uncover before you start measuring the curtains.
Here are three of the best questions to ask when viewing a house to buy:
- How long has the property been on the market?
- Has the owner found their next home?
- Have there been any offers?
These questions will help you build a picture of the owner’s situation so that you’re in a more informed position to make an offer. If the owner is at the end of a chain and keen to move quickly, you may have more leverage.
Here are some other questions to consider:
- Why is the owner selling-up?
- Have any sales fallen through. If so, why?
- How long have they lived in the property?
- Are there any major works due?
- When were repairs last carried out? Note: you may need the documentation.
- Have there been any complaints about the neighbours?
Naturally, you may not hear the whole truth, but these questions require factual answers which you’re entitled to know.
Some questions depend on what type of property you’re viewing. For example, if you’re viewing a leasehold flat, you’ll definitely want to know the length of the lease, the cost of the service charge and ground rent, and any information about communal areas and shared services. If you’re viewing a house, you should find out where the boundary lies and what’s included.
What to do when viewing a house to buy
A first viewing is very different to a second viewing.
When you first view a property, you can explore with an open mind and ask yourself: can I see myself living here? When you visit a second time, you’ll want to dig a little deeper.
Questions are one thing, but it’s equally important that you do your own checks when you’re on a viewing. While your survey will ultimately shed light on any defects, from street level you should still get a reasonable idea of the property’s general condition and age.
Roof repairs can be expensive, so keep an eye out for any missing tiles, the alignment of the chimney, and any obvious problems with the guttering. Cracks in the brickwork may suggest a deeper problem.
Once inside, it’s easy to get distracted by the owner’s furniture and interior design choices, but focus on the fundamentals like the floorplan, which isn’t going anywhere, and other immovables like storage and loft space.
Look for cracks on the doorframes, which may indicate a bigger problem, and see if the windows and doors open and close easily. Test the light switches, and if you’re feeling bold, the showerhead, to give you an indication of water pressure. And of course, make sure you’ve had a good look around the neighbourhood, both during the day and at nighttime.
But it’s not all about scratching plaster with your nails and staring suspiciously at the spotlights. You can look for exciting opportunities to add value, from extending the kitchen to knocking down walls and doing a loft conversion.
Our viewing tips for selling a house
What if you’re preparing your home for viewings? Hopefully you’ll have a queue of house hunters knocking at your door, but in any case, here’s how you can boost your chances of an offer:
- Tidy your living space — Your home will look spacious and inviting once you clean up your clutter and those rogue plates of toast.
- Make arrangements for pets — Not everyone likes opening the door to a barking dog, so consider leaving your pets with a neighbour or friend, though cats get special permission to stay.
- Get the temperature right — A viewing isn’t just about what you see, but how you feel. If the weather’s cold, make sure the heating’s up! And likewise, in hot weather, get the fan whirring.
- Freshen up the place — Air fresheners, open windows and candles are your friend.
- Remember, first impressions count — For extra kerb appeal, clear the front of your property of any rubbish bags, recycling bins and litter.
Should I host an open day?
Let’s be honest — having to constantly go for coffee round the corner while people view your home can get tiresome. One solution is to arrange an open house, where you allocate a time slot on a particular day for potential buyers to come and go.
On the plus side, you can create a buzz about your property and hopefully, a bit of competition among the buyers who elbow their way through the door. It also means you can structure your viewings in one manageable block, avoiding the need to constantly clean and tidy the home each time.
On the downside, not every buyer will be available on your chosen day, and some people say that buyers in a pressurised environment make rushed offers, which they may later retract.
What’s the average number of viewings before selling a house?
There is no magic number, as the number of viewings it takes to sell a home depends greatly on market conditions and geography.
Previous data from Rightmove suggested a UK average of something in the region of 18 viewings over a 9 week period before a property is sold, but in reality, you could sell a home to the first person who walks through the door, or the 100th. During times of strong market activity, you may have a revolving door of viewings, and at other times, tumbleweed!
For a comprehensive look at timelines, read our guide on how long it takes to sell a house.
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