Investing in a property is a big commitment – it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. When you first view a property, it’s pretty obvious that you’re trying to decide whether or not you like it – whether you get “that feeling” from walking around the place, and whether you can imagine yourself living there. But what should you look out for and ask on your second viewing? Here are some of our top tips to help you make the most of that second look round, helping you to decide whether or not to go ahead and put in an offer!
Have a good look at the area where the property is located – does it look safe? Do you feel comfortable there? If you can, try and view at a different time of day to your first viewing – this will help you to gauge what the area is like more accurately.
As you enter the property, check or ask if there is an alarm fitted – if not, this is an extra expense you’ll probably need to factor into your purchase. Similarly, check the security of all the doors and windows – are they all fully lockable? Checking this at an early stage can save you hundreds or thousands of pounds of maintenance work later.
2. Check the boiler, central heating system and electrics
Ask to see the boiler and the fuse box and, if possible, ask for all integrated appliances to be switched on to show they are working. If the boiler or fuse box is aged, these could be costly items to repair or replace. Check for the number and location of sockets, as this could be another extra expense if you want more to be fitted or if they need to be moved (ditto TV and phone sockets). It’s also sensible to read the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to see the current and potential figures for energy efficiency for the property, as poor EPC ratings might mean costly energy bills when you move in (check the windows for double-glazing, too, as this helps keep in the heat!).
3. Look at internal and external walls
All walls should be checked for cracks and damp marks, both internally and externally, and the condition of drainpipes, drains and guttering should also be noted. Any hairline cracks are probably nothing to worry about (they are often the result of normal settlement), but any cracks big enough to fit a coin in might indicate larger problems with movement and/or subsidence, which could make it tricky for you to have the property insured. If the vendors are present, ask them if they have ever had any problems with damp, subsidence or any other structural issues – these items will come up on the property survey anyway, so it’s in their interests to advise you of what you will be dealing with if they want the sale to reach completion.
4. Go into the loft and look at the roof
Lofts and roofs are easily forgotten when viewing a property, but they are really important as they can often harbour leaks and other problems that are not immediately obvious upon first inspection. Take a torch (many modern mobile phones have one integrated) and don’t wear your best clothes, as lofts often harbour dust! Check the roof for any chinks of light that might indicate missing tiles, and note whether or not there is loft insulation, which helps to keep the property energy efficient.
5. Check the garden space
One thing it’s really important to clarify is which parts of the land will be yours if you buy the property (if it’s a freehold purchase, meaning the land, not just the building itself, is part of the sale agreement). Ask who owns the boundary walls – Land Registry plans will be able to show this and it will determine who pays for the repairs if the walls and fences need to be mended or replaced.
It’s also sensible to take a compass (again, many smartphones now have one integrated) as this will tell you how the land lies – a south-facing garden will get afternoon sun (and is more desirable), whereas a north-facing one will be more shady.
Also check for uneven areas that could indicate problems with the land or large tree roots that can damage property foundations. Again, these should be picked up on the survey – but it’s best to know at the viewing stage so you can make an informed decision about your offer!
6. Examine the outbuildings and extras
If the property benefits from extras like outbuildings, garages or storage areas, then these should also be inspected at the second viewing to see if they are in good repair. Also check: is the garage big enough for your car? Will the storage space accommodate all your belongings? If the current owners have jammed the storage areas full to the brim with items, this could indicate a lack of space within the property itself and you should think carefully about its size before committing to a purchase.
Similarly, check all cupboard areas within the house for size and space during your viewing.
7. Find out about the area
If you’re staying local, then this point might not apply, but you should always check that the location is suitable for you as well as the property. Ask the vendor or agent about local amenities – where are the nearest post office, shop, and doctor’s and dentist’s surgeries? Are local schools rated highly? Where is the nearest bus stop and/or train station? All these factors should help you to make a decision on the property itself. Furthermore, checking if there are any noisy pubs, shops or colleges nearby is worthwhile, as is finding out if there is any current or future building work planned in the area (building work can be good and bad; though it can be an eyesore and cause noise pollution, it can also suggest an area is a prime redevelopment location, which could add future value to the property).
Don’t forget to ask about the council tax band as there can be a pricey difference between Band A and Band H, adding several hundred pounds to your yearly bills.
8. Is it “you”?
While bearing all these checks in mind, it’s also vital that you feel comfortable with the property you are about the purchase – especially if you are planning to live there yourself rather than rent it out as an investment. If you get “the feeling”, you’re satisfied on the points above and you can afford the property, then go for it!! If you’re not quite sure, then it’s probably not the home for you, so keep looking!
Julie Twist Properties has a large variety of homes on offer all around Manchester. Check out our property gallery to find out more!
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