The top 12 tips for viewing a property

Once you have found a property you like the look of and might want to buy it, you need to book your viewing. This is your opportunity to look at the property and see if you can visualise yourself living there. Viewing a property is very important and is more than just seeing if you like the colour of the wallpaper. We’ve laid out the top 12 tips on how to make the most of your viewing and what to look for in order to make sure you buy the right property for you.


1. Take your time

Make sure you spend a good chunk of time viewing a house – 20 to 30 minutes at least – so you can really get a feel for the place. Research has found that the longer a buyer spends viewing a property, the more likely they are to secure it for under the asking price. Some 52% of buyers who spent less than 10 minutes viewing the property paid the asking price or more, while 71% of buyers who spent more than 90 minutes on viewings paid below the asking price.


2. Look at the structure of the building

Make sure you walk around the outside of the house to check the exterior. Look for damp and hairline cracks in the walls, missing or loose tiles on the roof and broken guttering. If you find signs of a problem, ask questions to find out what the cause is and whether it will be fixed. If you go on to make an offer and it gets accepted, you should always have an independent house survey done so an expert can conduct more thorough checks.


3. Look and smell carefully

The seller doesn’t have to tell you about problems – in fact, they may even try to hide them. Common cover-ups include painting over damp and hiding wall cracks or floor problems with furniture or rugs. So, keep an eye open for strategically placed furniture and don't be afraid to inspect. Damp can give off a musty whiff even if you don’t see physical signs, so be on your guard for unusual smells, including air freshener.


4. View the property more than once

Even in a fast-moving market, it’s best to go and see the property more than once if possible. The more times you view, the more likely you are to spot potential problems. Our research has found that 26% of people viewed their current home once before buying it, 43% twice, 21% three times and 11% four or more times. We'd recommend viewing the property two to three times, at different times of day, to find out how the light, traffic and surrounding noises change. You might just discover that the quiet, idyllic street you saw at 11am is a busy main commuter route at 6pm.


5. Confirm what land is included with the property

If there's any uncertainty over who owns a garden or parking space, make sure you find out the answer and get it confirmed in writing before committing to buy the property.


6. What is included in the sale?

Ask the seller what items will be included in the sale. Some furniture or white goods (fridge or washing machine, for example) may be left behind for you to keep - and could save you thousands. The seller may be willing to let you have them as they could be downsizing and won't be able to take the items with them.


7. Try to take someone with you

Rather than going alone, it’s better to take someone you trust along with you. They can act as a second pair of eyes and ears, and share their opinion on what they make of the property. They are also more likely to be impartial than you as they won’t necessarily be living in the house and so should give you an honest opinion.


8. Have a professional survey done

Mortgage lenders will request that you have a 'valuation survey' carried out, but this is different from a house survey as it doesn't look at the condition of the property. A valuation survey is for the lender’s benefit and confirms the property’s approximate value, but you may not get to see the results, even if you're paying for it. You should always have your own independent survey carried out in order to uncover any hidden issues with the house you're buying – take a look at our guide to the types of house survey to find out more.


9. Take plenty of photos and videos

Ask permission to see if you're allowed to take photos or videos of the property as you walk around. You'll likely be viewing a number of properties, so it's good to have a visual reminder to look back on and scrutinise. Your own photos will also give a more accurate reflection of the property than those used by the estate agency.


10. Investigate the neighbourhood

Spend at least half an hour walking around the general area to see how close the things that matter to you, such as cafés, schools, transport links or local shops, are. Also revisit at rush hour and when the pubs close, and on weekends and weekdays. Take time carrying out online searches of the area as well. See if there are any crime stories on local news websites or if the community is well liked on local social media pages.


11. Try to keep your emotions at bay

It's not always easy, but try to see the property simply as a building that needs inspecting. Don't get too attached early on or your heart might rule your head and cause you to overlook any problems. At the same time, if you do spot faults, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off buying – you could use what you've discovered to negotiate on the price, depending on how big the issue is and how much it will cost to fix.


12. Talk to the estate agent

If the property you’re viewing is a serious contender, talk to the estate agent to find out more about the property and why it's being sold. Unlike the seller, the estate agent is legally obliged to tell you if they know of any serious problems with the property. You can also ask them how long the property has been on the market for and whether anyone's made an offer.


Taken from an article published by WHICH updated January 2023.