Whether it’s the first time you’re viewing a property or you’re an experienced buyer, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a viewing, only later realising how many unanswered questions you have.

To help keep you on track we’ve created this downloadable checklist to complete for each property you visit. As well as the details below, make sure you take pictures and videos of the property to jog your memory once you’ve left. Visiting at different times of day and week is also helpful to get a better feel of the local area.

Click here to download the checklist

 

Outside, Building and Land

Freehold, Share of Freehold or Leasehold

It’s important to know whether the property you’re intending to buy is freehold or leasehold, as this determines any additional responsibilities and costs that might come with it. 

Freehold properties mean that you own and are responsible for the upkeep of the land it is on. Some properties come with a ‘share of freehold’, which is often the case when dealing with flats. This means you’ll have joint responsibility of the land and communal areas, with the cost of their upkeep shared between you and the other owner/s. If you’re dealing with share of freehold make sure to ask the estate agent whether the freehold is managed by a third party or directly with the other owners.

Leasehold is when you own the property (within the terms of the lease), for a certain time period. When the lease period ends, the property will be returned back to the freeholder. Make sure you check how many years are left on the lease, as most mortgage lenders require a certain term left in order to lend. Also check up on any additional costs you’ll be required to pay the landlord, such as ground rent or maintenance. 

Read more about the differences here. 

Boundaries

Find out what the boundaries of the property are and who is responsible for maintaining them. For example, if you’re looking at a flat or maisonette, find out who owns the front garden, and if it is split, who owns and is responsible for which parts. If there is a back garden, ask who is responsible for maintenanting any fencing or boundaries that separate this and the neighbouring properties. 

Parking

If the property doesn’t have a drive, find out whether there is allocated parking for the property owner, including the number of spaces and where they are. 

If there are spaces available to purchase alongside the property, make sure to find out the additional costs or if the parking is by resident permit only.  You can visit the local council’s website to find out the costs and availability of permits if you require them. 

Property Facing

If you’re visiting the property early in the morning or late at night, make sure you find out which way the property faces.  This will let you know how and when different areas, including outdoor spaces, will be lit by the sun. 

Neighbours

It’s good to know who your new neighbours might be, especially if you’re planning on buying a flat or maisonette. Find out who is living above, below, next door, as well as how long they’ve lived there and whether they rent or own. If the estate agent isn’t sure, ask them to find out from the current owner. 

 

The Structure and Inside the Property

Recent structural work

If there has been any recent structural work it may suggest there are other underlying problems with the building. Whilst this should be noted in the homebuyers report, make sure you ask the estate agent about any recent work to the property.

Damp or Mould

This is something your estate agent is likely not to know about or disclose, so make sure you’re looking out for any tell tale signs when viewing a property. Research the kind of property you are visiting and learn where typical signs might be evident. If you’re viewing an older property, look out for things like freshly painted walls and ceilings where the affected area might be covered. Don’t be afraid to touch the walls near problem areas and be wary if viewing in the summer that problems might not be visible until winter.

What’s included in the sale

You’ll need to clarify exactly what is included in the sale of the property, right down to items like curtains, carpets and cupboards. Make sure you get clarity on what/if any white goods will be staying, as well as any fitted furniture and fixtures. If there is something you particularly love and want to keep, make sure you call this out to the estate agent as a condition of your offer. The current owner may also be open to including more items in the sale, especially if it means less work for them to remove them so keep this in mind when viewing.  

 

Finance, Timings and The Seller

When is the seller able to complete?

Finding out the situation of the seller is absolutely crucial in terms of managing your own expectations throughout the buying process. It is best to know if there are any obstacles that would impact when the seller can complete a sale, such as being in a chain, as this could affect when and if you make an offer. There may be occasions where estate agents won’t reveal this information upfront, so make sure all expected timelines are explicit and agreed by both parties when an offer is accepted.

How long has the seller owned the property and why is it being sold

The length of time a seller has lived at a property and their reasons for selling are indicative of whether a property would be a good investment for you.  Asking these questions should reveal if there are any ‘hidden’ issues with the property, which has led to their move. 

It can also give an indication of the sellers position, such as if they no longer live in the property and instead have rented it out . This can show if they are looking to sell quickly or whether they will hold out for the best offer. 

Time on market and other offers

Before giving any information away to the estate agent about where you stand and whether you’re thinking about putting in an offer, find out how long the property has been on the market.  This should include why it hasn’t sold if it has been on a long time, whether there has been any other offers and whether there have been any past offers where the sale has fallen through. All of this information will give you context around the offer you want to put forward. If there have been potential sales on the property which have fallen through, keep digging and find out why this was as you don’t want to find yourself in the same situation. 

What is the lowest offer the seller will accept

There is never any harm in asking the estate agent this question. From their point of view they’ll want to make a quick sale so it’s within their interest to give you an answer that would see a deal done. But don’t take this as final, if you want to make a lower offer the agent is obliged to pass every offer onto the seller so give it your best shot.

 

Local Area

Amenities

If you’re not familiar with the local area, ask the estate agent about local amenities, schools, parks, shops and anything else you deem a local essential. 

Planned building work

A quick search of the local council website will tell you about any potential building or development work planned for the local area.  However it’s always worth asking the estate agent too, as they will often have insights due to their local connections.