The most important part of knowing whether or not you actually want to move somewhere, property viewings can be exciting and nerve-shredding in equal measure. While there’s all the fun of imagining living in a property, there’s also the prospect of finding that the flat or house you’re visiting isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
After the viewing, there’s all the decision-making and research you need to do as well. All of that can be tiring and can cause indecision when you need it the least, but we’re here to give you some top tips about what to look for at a property viewing and before you decide whether or not to rent.
Where exactly is the property located?
The first thing you must do in preparing for a viewing is to work out how to get to this prospective new home. Google Maps or Bing Maps can help, but if you don’t drive, work out what buses and/or trains serve it. In Leeds, the West Yorkshire Metro website has a journey planner where you can find the nearest bus route by typing in a postcode.
While we’re on the subject of travel, check out the surrounding area if you can. A dry run can help no end; do one the day before and see for yourself what the home looks like from the outside, as well as whether the area as a whole is to your liking.
Take a camera (or a phone)
There are a few things you might want to bring with you, but by far the most important thing is a camera or a smartphone with camera. Using it to take some snaps of the property will make it easier to remember what it was you actually went to see. It’s worth asking permission of the letting agent or property manager showing you round first, but it should be fine.
Other useful items to bring to a viewing include a notepad so you can take a few notes about any interesting features of the house, a map of the local area and a copy of the property advert as seen online. This will help you to be really prepared in case you find something unexpectedly.
Inspect the property
At the viewing itself, you should remain focused at all times. Take a close look at every corner of every room to see if there are any minor (or major) imperfections. If there are, take a picture as a reminder. You should also look on the outside to see if the foundations are solid, while it won’t take too long to give the garden a thorough inspection.
While it may make your property viewing a little longer than anticipated, it gives you an idea of whether or not it’s safe enough to live there. It also prepares you for future property viewings if you have any lined up.
Ask the right questions
Before a viewing, take a moment to think about what you want from a new home. Can you have fibre optic broadband installed? Is there central heating? Does it have a parking space? Think to ask all of those questions either before the viewing takes place or at the viewing itself.
It’s also worth doing a little research on the property and the local area. What are the local schools like? Are there any major employers nearby who have roles that fit my skillset? Is there a big supermarket nearby where I can do the weekly shop? Never be afraid to ask questions; that’s a big part of the house viewing process.
Look outside the property
The house itself might be nice, but what about its surroundings? It doesn’t do any harm to look around the local area. A 10-minute walk around the streets will give you a flavour of what to expect. Doing your research before the viewing is essential, particularly on things like transport, crime rates and local amenities.
Inspect the garden
A house viewing isn’t just about the house itself; it’s about what’s around it as well. If it has a garden, give it a good look to see what you have to work with, what you can use it for and if it needs much by way of maintenance.
While you’re there, also consider the driveway, garage and, if applicable, the entrance. Does it have a gate with or without a latch? Is it safe? Is there enough room for my car or bike? Again, asking all these questions is important and you might get the answer from the viewing.
Safety measures in a rental property
Your safety is hugely important, wherever you live. For a viewing, check for the following:
- Fire alarm - there should be one readily available, particularly in buildings with communal areas
- Smoke alarm - these should be in most rooms of a house or flat
- CO2 alarm (in a property that has a gas supply)
- Doors and windows with functioning keys/locks
- Secure fixtures and fittings - no broken or cracked tiles
- Damp and mould - a safe flat should have neither
Bring a checklist with you or have one ready on your phone. Tick each one off or put a cross against them if a property has one or more of the above missing/present.
Repeat property viewings
In case there’s anything you’ve missed from the first viewing, booking another comes in handy. At this viewing, you should check any part of the property you either didn’t spend much time looking at or eschewed completely. You can also ask any questions you forgot to do so first time round.
What to do before renting?
Once you’ve gone past the viewing stage, there are a number of actions you must take before either signing the contract or looking elsewhere for that dream home. These are as follows:
- Budgeting - can you afford to live in the property? Are there any hidden costs such as admin that need to be covered?
- Get a copy of the tenancy agreement and read it through before signing away
- Remember if there are any repairs needed - if so, flag up with the letting agency
- View at least one other property to see how the one you initially viewed compares
- Check every little detail about the property - rental costs, energy, insurance costs, council tax band, energy supplier, parking
- Ensure you have enough money set aside for a deposit - this is around the same as a month’s rent for the property you’ve viewed
- Find out what energy suppliers operate in the property’s area
- Check the property listing and see how close it matches up to the one you actually went to see
- Ask any questions you have by calling the property manager or letting agency office
All of this is useful, as it gives you a firm idea of whether or not you should take the plunge and move in. A little due diligence can go a long way, while it won’t hurt to look at even the tiniest details, both for the viewing and before even considering renting.