Whether you’re buying or renting, property hunting can often be a stressful procedure. Thankfully however, viewing a property is one of the most exciting parts of house-hunting and one of the few bits that many look forward to.
Viewing a property for the first time can often be overwhelming as there are a lot of things to take in and ponder, not to mention all the excitement surrounding the event of seeing your potential new home for the first time.
While it is easy to get swept up in the emotions and be taken aback by a well-presented home, it is essential that you keep your cool when viewing. Remember, a well-dressed property might be hiding underlying issues such as mould and dampness that at first glance could be concealed.
In order to avoid any nasty surprises upon moving in, be sure to consider these following tips and questions for the agent on viewing day.
Questions to ask when viewing a property to buy
Whether you’re buying a property for the 1st or 10th time, Residential People have compiled a list of essential questions to ask during the viewing:
What is included in the sale?
One of the things you should clarify from the outset is identifying what exactly is included in the sale.
Depending on the will of the previous owner, they might wish to remove interior fittings like cabinets and wardrobes, even if these are built into the wall.
If in the event the property also features a garden, you should also enquire about fittings in this area as well, as it is not guaranteed that the stylish garden shed that caught your eye will remain.
How safe is the area?
The safety of the area should be one of your primary concerns when aiming to buy a property even if you don’t have a family to think of.
Properties that reside in areas with a high crime rate might be lower priced than those in less-affected regions, but they can often prove to be more expensive in the long run as you will have to consider insurance and additional security measures such as high-walls and gates, in order to keep your property safe.
Before deciding whether the property suits your needs, you should consider taking a look at the Police crime map for the area to see how safe/dangerous the surrounding neighbourhood is.
Besides personal safety, buying a house in a problematic area could also severely harm your prospects of selling the property at a later date.
Are there allocated parking spaces?
If you’re a driver (or intend to host those that do), then you should also consider the parking situation at the property as well.
Depending on the location and type of the property, you might not be able to park outside of the home. As such, it is important to clarify about the availability of parking and what arrangements could be made to make this easier.
Who are your neighbours?
Nothing can ruin a perfect new home quite like a noisy neighbour blaring music on top volume at 3 am.
Be sure to ask questions to the owner or to the hosting agent, so you can better judge the character of your prospective neighbours.
What is the Energy Performance rating?
The rating shown on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a vital piece of information that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Detailing your home’s energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, the report is essential for understanding how much your new home could cost to operate.
Did you know that you can now search for homes by their energy efficiency class on Residential People? Click here to learn more.
Why is the property on the market?
This is one of the most important questions that you should ask when viewing a property. By inquiring about the reasons for the sale, you may be able to find out some more information about the condition of the house, or proposed developments in the surrounding area that could affect the value and enjoyment of your prospective new home.
In addition to asking why the property is for sale, you should also ask ‘how long has the property been on the market?’ – By asking this question, you might be able to have more room for negotiations on the price if you believe the seller is desperate to get a sale at an acceptable asking price.
Lastly, you should also ask how many viewers have seen the property already, as this will also help you to work out a suitable first offer to make.
When was the utilities (Gas/Electric/Water) last serviced?
While the seller is under no obligation to ensure that the property’s boiler or water tanks have been serviced recently, it is still worth inquiring about the condition of these fundamental utilities in order to prevent any nasty surprises later on.
What is the condition of the house?
When buying a property, you should be mindful of things such as a mouldy smell, flaky plaster and watermarks on ceilings and walls which are a tell-tale sign of water damage and perhaps relate to an underlying issue with the home.
Failure to spot these signs when viewing a property could prove to be a very expensive mistake in years to come when you are faced with an extortionate bill to repair the damage caused by mould and dampness.
Is there a property chain involved?
One of the things you should ask during a viewing is whether the seller is part of a ‘property chain’.
As explained in the link above, a property chain occurs if your seller is also buying a house from someone else and requires their purchase to be approved before they can go through with the sale to you. It’s important to remember that property chains can potentially delay your purchase or in the worst-case scenario, cause your purchase to collapse.
Questions to ask when viewing a property to rent
When viewing a great looking property, it is essential to try to look at the space objectively before deciding if this is the right home for you to rent.
Make the most of your viewing day by asking the following questions
Are bills included?
One of the first things you should clarify when renting is the inclusion of bills in your total rent.
Depending on a number of factors such as the landlord, the property type and price range, a property may also include select or full bills at the time of renting. As such, it is always recommended to clarify this from the outset so that you can manage your budget accordingly.
Is the property fully furnished?
While you will more than likely find this information out from the listing, it is still worth asking in the event that you see furniture in the property when viewing.
Please note: If there is furniture in the apartment, then you should request an inventory of the apartment to confirm what items are included and expected to be maintained.
Why are the previous tenants moving out?
A question that is often overlooked, asking why the current tenants are looking to leave a property can help to avoid any nasty structural or safety surprises occurring during your tenancy.
Am I allowed to decorate?
Everyone wants to have a place to call their home, and what better way of making a new house feel like home but to put up artwork or photographs of friends and family? However, before you go crazy and buy several picture frames to adorn your walls, it’s very important to check with your landlord first.
While adding personal touches might seem trivial, it’s important to ask this question as assuming that you’re allowed to change the decor could result in issues with the landlord during a property search or at the end of your tenancy.
Are children or pets allowed?
More often than not, landlords don’t allow pets to live in their premises (even more so when fully furnished) as there is usually a greater risk of damage to the property.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also find that certain landlords do not allow children. In a similar fashion to pets, children are often the main cause of accidents and property damage, so as such, some landlords can be reluctant to rent furnished apartments to tenants with young children. This can also be the case when choosing a property that has a spiral- or uniquely shaped staircases that could pose a danger to children.
How long is the tenancy agreement?
Typically rental agreements are between 6-12 months, while you will usually find the length of the let on the online listing, it’s a good idea to ask again when viewing the property as you might be able to negotiate a shorter or longer rental agreement.
What is the policy on Sub-letting?
Despite being a tenant and not an owner you might still be allowed to let the property, this is known as subletting.
While a large number of landlords do not allow sublets, it is worth asking as depending on your circumstances and negotiating skills; you might be able to arrange a sublet for your home which would help cover the costs of renting.
How should I pay the rent?
While the majority of tenancies are paid on a monthly basis by bank transfer or a standing order, it is advised that tenants clarify the accepted payment methods before signing an agreement.
In all but the rarest of cases, renting a property via an agency will almost always mean you will be paying your rent on a specific day by a standing order.
However, if you are renting directly from a landlord, you may be asked to pay in cash instead. While this method is perfectly legal, we would highly recommend that you get a receipt each time you pay the rent (or for repairs) in order to financially protect yourself in the event of a payment dispute