Test the plumbing? Check the electrics? Here's what homeowners regret not doing when viewing their property - and what checks YOU should do before buying your home.
House-hunting can be an exciting but nerve-wracking business – especially if you’re buying for the first time.
Property viewings are a key part of the process. You need to make the most of them to ensure you are armed with all the information required to make a competitive offer.
Worryingly, new research from Terrys Fabrics, which looks into how much Brits know before putting in an offer on a property, reveals that just 22% of people spent less than 30 minutes viewing their home.
What’s more, 60% spent more time selecting their holiday than the property they were going to buy, and 10% took longer deciding where to eat out for one meal than viewing their future pad.
This is despite a property purchase usually being one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life – not to mention the most expensive.
So what are the top 5 things homeowners wished they'd checked before snapping up their home?
- 30% wish they had monitored how warm the house was in winter
- 24% wish they had checked all the doors, windows and roof
- 20% wish they had tested the plumbing – and leaks – by using the toilet, shower and bath
- 16% wish they had spent the night at the property to discover how noisy the neighbours are
- 10% wish they had checked all the electrics and plugs
Here are the 8 key checks to do on a viewing
Unless you're buying a new-build home, you're unlikely to find a property in pristine condition. But by doing all the necessary checks when viewing a property, you can confidently decide whether to put in an offer – and if so, at what price.
1. Doors and windows
Make sure that the locks on doors and windows are up to insurance standards. If they aren’t, be prepared to budget for the cost of new locks, as some insurance policies insist front and back doors have ‘mortice locks.’
Check that all the doors and windows open and close properly, and see if the windows are double glazed. If they aren’t, this is another cost you may need to budget for.
Also look out for the condition of the frames.
Do a quick count to see if there are enough radiators and heaters to keep the place warm in the colder months. Check all radiators and heaters are in good working order.
Flush the toilet and turn on the taps to make sure they work. Leave the hot tap running to test the hot water, and check the water pressure in the shower is up to scratch. Also have a look to see if sinks drain easily.
Find out what make and model the boiler is, how old it is, and its service history. Replacing a boiler can be a costly business – especially if you have to fork out just after moving to a new property.
Turn all the lights on and off and make sure older switches are still in good working order.
Check that there are enough electrical sockets, and in the right locations, for your needs.
Keep an eye out for damp staining or discolouration that could be a sign of leaks. Also notice if there are any areas of condensation or peeling wallpaper – or if the property smells musty.
Take a look as best you can at the roof to see if it looks sound. Missing tiles could be an indication that the roof needs work. Also keep an eye out for blocked drains and rotting woodwork.
Find out who your neighbours would be and meet them. And while you are at the property, take time to listen for noise from them. If possible, try and visit the property at different times of day to see if this makes a difference.
The seller is legally obliged to tell you if there have been any disputes with neighbours. But you should do your own detective work too.
DO: your own research
Gather all the information you can – and give it careful consideration – before going ahead and making an offer.
That means asking as many questions as you can possibly think of.
Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s vital to ensure you’re making the right decision before pressing the green light.
DON’T: be hasty
While many of us spend hours trawling through property websites, we can be quick to fall in love with a place once we’ve actually seen it – or feel pressure to make a snap decision because of competition from other buyers.
But when buying a home, making a bad decision could have far-reaching consequences – and create a lot of stress and expense further down the line.