Getting the most out of viewings
Use Rightmove to find out as much as you can about a property you like using the photographs, floorplans, virtual tours, online brochures and local information that is available with most descriptions. All of this information will help you make a decision but viewing the property is critical. As soon as you have found a property that is of interest, book a viewing with the agent.
Depending on the agent and the service that’s being used, the agent may host the viewing for you but it could be the vendor instead that conduct the viewing.
Different types of viewings
Direct Vendor viewings:
- If the vendor is conducting the viewing themselves, don’t forget that this is their home. As you are being shown around ask if you want to open doors and wardrobes etc, or take photographs and check about taking off shoes when you go in.
- Most vendors are emotionally engaged with their property and may want to sell the property to someone that they think will appreciate it. Making a good impression will, therefore, help in the negotiations if you like the property.
- One of the advantages of being shown around by the vendor is that they probably know the property best and any of its idiosyncrasies, so it’s a good opportunity to ask questions.
- Sometimes vendors can be over-enthusiastic about their property which can be time-consuming if you have decided it is not of interest. Think in advance how to conclude the viewing politely if you’ve seen enough.
- It’s easier to be direct in your feedback when viewing with an agent as it isn’t their home and so they’ll summarise your feedback in a professional way back to the vendor.
- If the agent has more than one property of interest, you should be able to see them all in one go.
- Spending time with the agent gives you the chance to use their knowledge.
Open House Viewings:
- The property will be available to view for a set period of time and any interested buyer can go and have a look around.
- Vendors like open house viewings as they often create competition between buyers. If you’re a buyer in this situation, be careful not to get carried away trying to outbid the competition.
- Because you can often show yourself around, rather than being given ‘the tour’, when you’ve seen enough you can just leave.
What to look for on viewings
It makes sense to view any prospective property, where possible, at least twice. The first time you view a property you’re likely to get an instinctive ‘feel’ for what is on offer and whether it could suit your needs. The second and third time around is then often more about thinking through the practicalities. You made need to visit more times, to make sure you are comfortable with your decision.
A few things to consider are:
- Try and view the property at different times of the day. It might be very different at night or when all of the neighbours are at home or if you are close to a busy road or train line.
- You are generally not going to be buying the contents of a property, so if it’s beautifully furnished, try to imagine it without the vendors’ belongings so you don’t end up buying into the lifestyle which is not for sale.
- If you are viewing a property and it is empty, lying on the floor can give you a good sense of how big your furniture really is.
- Some developments will use smaller furniture to make rooms look bigger, take a tape measure to make sure that your furniture will fit.
- Use all of your senses. You can often smell damp before you can see it and the smell of good coffee might just be covering up something else!
- Find out what’s behind any locked doors.
- Check that all the doors are there as they’re sometimes removed to increase the sense of space!
- Fireplaces are often a compelling feature. Check that they are working and when they were last serviced or the chimneys swept.
- If the property was previously rented, ask for copies of all the safety certificates.
- Be realistic. Purchasing is often a case of how you make your compromises. Walking through the door looking for perfection might leave you disappointed.
- If there are gardens or terraces, double check who is entitled to use them and who is responsible for maintaining them. Whilst a communal garden may seem less attractive initially, the building owner may maintain it for you.
- Many buildings will be restricted as to what media can or cannot be installed (satellite TV for example). Check what arrangements are available and who the current provider is.