What should you look for when viewing a property to buy. Make sure you don't miss any obvious problem which could prove expensive. Step by step guide to viewing a house to buy.

When viewing a property to buy you think you may like make sure you learn as much as possible about it, even if it seems perfect at first glance. Follow our guide to viewing a house to buy.

Top Tip

Make at least two visits. View the property / house at different times of the day, in the daylight and at night. What may be quiet road in the day may be very different at night.

Top Tip

Write everything down - take notes on each property they view which they can compare later. When viewing 2 or 3 houses in a day it is easily to get confused. Take photos of your own but ask permission first.

Top Tip

Don't be put off by the seller's choice of decor - try to imagine the house with your own furniture and style

Top Tip

Inspecting the property yourself does NOT avoid the need for a professional survey

What to look for when viewing a property

1. Guide to viewing a property - structural problems

  • Subsidence: Before you view a property try and have a good look around the outside.. Look for big cracks in the walls, a bent chimney stack, or an uneven roof line. Inside the house look for cracks in ceilings and walls, doors that stick or don't hang correctly. Root damage to foundations: if there are any big trees nearby this could cause problems look for cracks in ceilings and walls, doors that stick or don't hang correctly
  • Damp: look for missing roof tiles, and check the brickwork and mortar as cracks can let in damp. Inside a house you can smell damp, particularly if unoccupied. Flaking paintwork, wallpaper which is peeling off and mould are also signs of damp. Watch out if there appears to be some fresh paint or wallpaper as this could be a cosmetic attempt to disguise potential problems.
  • Condensation: rotting wooden window frames can be a sign of this. If they are soft to the touch this means they are rotten. Make sure the bathroom, any en-suites and the kitchen are all well ventilated
  • Woodworm: indicated by holes in woodwork. If you do spot any woodworm ask if it has been treated and ask to see the certificate. Most old houses will have had some woodworm and it is relatively easy to eradicate so do not let this put you off.

2. Viewing a property - fixtures and fittings

What fixtures and fittings will be left by the previous owner. Will you need to buy a new cooker or watching machine? Is there a satellite dish and is that being left?

3. Guide to viewing a property - Layout

Unusual shaped rooms can provide character, but that can sometimes make it difficult to find a place for your 3 seater sofa. Make sure there are enough electrical sockets for you TV, video, Hi fi etc. If they are the old-fashioned, round-pin type, re-wiring will probably be required. Where are the telephone points and are they in the right location?

4. What to look for when viewing a property -heating and lighting

Is there central heating in ALL rooms and what form does it take. Is it storage heaters, gas or oil fired central heating. How modern is the boiler and will it soon need replacing. Always ask about how essential appliances have been maintained. Ask to see a winter heating bill as this can help give an idea about the quality of insulation.

5. Viewing a property - plumbing

Are the pipes and the boiler lagged? How old is the piping? Lead piping will need replacing.