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Property Viewing Checklist

When you go to view a potential new home, it can be difficult to remember everything you need to check. Here's our essential list of questions to ask when you're preparing to view a property, on the day, and when you're considering making an offer.

Before you visit the property

  • How long has it been on the market?
  • Has the price been reduced?
  • Has it been listed and removed before?
  • Is the EPC up to date, and what rating is it?
  • Is it leasehold or freehold? Are there any service charges?
  • What is the council tax likely to be?
  • Can I afford this?

Why ask this?

Knowing whether the agent has had trouble selling the property will either alert you to possible problems or put you in a great bargaining position. If it’s been listed and removed, you need to know why. Perhaps the seller couldn’t get the price they wanted, or their situation changed. Maybe they had a bad experience with a buyer – this information will let you know if there might be issues going forward.

The EPC will tell you how much you’ll pay in bills, if much needs to be done to the property to improve its efficiency, and how much that might cost. Knowing the council tax, service charges and any other costs will give you an overview of how much the monthly cost might be, and whether the property is workable.

You can find out most of this information online before you arrive, but if anything is unclear, note down to ask the agent or call up before you visit.

When you get to the property

  • Why is the owner selling?
  • How long has the seller lived there?
  • Has the seller found their new property/is there a chain?
  • How many people are viewing the property?
  • Have there been any near-sales/fallen through sales? If so, why?
  • What is the best thing about this property?
  • Is there planning permission for expansion?
  • What are the neighbours like?
  • Has any work been done on the property? When, what and by who? Is there documentation?
  • What type of boiler is it? When was it updated?
  • Has the property had any problems with damp, Japanese knotweed, etc?
  • Is it south facing?

Why ask this?

Bear in mind that an estate agent is legally obligated to tell you if there is something that would stop you from buying this property. You would have the law on your side if they did not reveal something that would have stopped you buying the property. So ask the question directly!

Knowing about a chain or the state of the seller’s search will give you an idea of how long you’ll be waiting. Knowing why they’re selling will give you a sense of whether the property is right for you – it’s unlikely that they’ll mention they’re leaving because of the noise of the pub next door, or their horrible neighbour, but if they’re selling due to divorce or upsizing for their family, it’ll help you know the position of the sale.

Top tip: Adjust your expectations by looking for certain language used in listings. ‘In need of refurbishment’ or ‘opportunity for development’ suggest the property will need a fair bit of work.

What to look at and test in the property

  • Damp - look for stains on wall or ceiling
  • Roof - moss growth, missing tiles
  • Garden condition - overgrown, Japanese knotweed
  • Brickwork - damage
  • Pipework 
  • Windows - condensation, draughts
Whilst your surveyor will be able to identify the main problems when you book a survey, being thorough when looking at the property and not getting distracted by the décor is important. You can often tell a lot about the condition of the property from the garden – if things have been left in disrepair, it’s possible the rest of the home has too.
Top tip: When you think you’re going to buy the property, it’s worth visiting again, maybe with a family member or friend to get a different perspective and see whether you feel the same way about it.

When you're considering making an offer

  • What is the traffic like at different times of day?
  • What is parking like? Is it easy to get a permit, and how much might it cost?
  • Is it noisy at night?
  • How safe is the area?
For most of these, you can do the research yourself. Visiting at different times of day, but also checking police.uk for crimes in the local area will give you an insight.

Before you make an offer

  • Have there been any other offers?
  • What offers has the owner rejected?
  • Are there any priorities for the owner? (moving more quickly/cash buyer/family home etc)
  • What is included? (fixtures/fittings)
  • Is there room for negotiation?
The more information you have, the better you can gauge where to place your offer and how likely it is to be accepted.  Know exactly what you’re paying for, and if your survey does highlight problems, be prepared to ask for a reduction to cover these costs.

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