PROPERTY VIEWING SUITABILITY GUIDE WISEOWL PROPERTY

Property Viewing & Suitability Guide For New Landlords

When looking to establish a property’s suitability, there is a lot to consider, and you should be diligent at this stage and do your research thoroughly. In general, you are looking into the implications of how much investment is needed, be it immediate or future investment for a given property.

We’ll provide below checklists & tips on what you should be looking for and considering; however, consider that, as mentioned in my book, regardless of your approach, strategy and long-term plan, which in turn will determine what model and type of property you buy, the following list should be considered at a minimum;

(If you intend on buying a turnkey property or fully renovating throughout, you still need to be aware of and/or budget either way, so still, take note of the points below.)

The general (minimum viable) checklist;

Externally

  • Arrive 15-20 minutes early to the appointment so you can assess the area somewhat. You may be surprised what you can determine in as little as 15 minutes on the sidelines.
  • Take note of the roofline, guttering & downcomers inc. Joints, Fascia etc and, external windows & doors, drive or front garden, and anything else visible during this time.
  • Note other boards, To-Let and For-Sale. This can highlight any supply/demand imbalance.
  • Mark the curb appeal out of 10 and mark what you believe its potential is next to that mark (make sure that the potential is realistic and falls within your budget). We’d suggest only a few hundred pounds on a turnkey property. Bear in mind that a complete refurbishment may bring this up as a by-product, so you can be less concerned if replacing windows, doors, roofs etc.
  • Note the curb appeal of the closest five or six houses on either side; this is something you will be unable to change, but it will give you a clearer indication of how the neighbours live and the area itself.
  • The size of the gardens, the areas of grassed, paved and fenced parts, and the number of trees or large shrubs.
  • The driveways or parking bays
  • External Walls
  • Fencing / Walls
  • Any Garages or porched areas
  • Bins and Household Disposal (Storage)
  • Local Cars / Parking
  • Internally

  • It’s a good idea to walk through the property briefly before you get into the crooks of the viewing – trust your gut here. If you like the feel of the property, continue to be thorough, if not, you can wrap up your viewing relatively quickly from here.
  • The look, condition, feel and operation of all the doors and windows.
  • The condition of the flooring, carpets & others and the presence of underlay.
  • The walls and ceilings and their coverings – aertex, woodchip, wallpaper, freshly plastered etc.
  • The condition, standard and age of the kitchen and tiling. The implications of replacing and your best guess as to when that would be necessary and at what cost
  • The same as above applies to the bathroom
  • The overall size and layout of the bedrooms but in particular the smallest bedroom
  • The age and type of central heating system installed
  • The age and type of consumer unit installed (you may not know this yet, but it is a recent regulation to supply ALL rented properties with an electrical safety certificate, so this is a big one)
  • Any signs of dampness, mould, flaking paint or large cracks in walls.
  • Does the Property have a Cavity? –Check EER/EPC to gauge the cost implications  
  • Anything else significant, noticeable, or unusual that jumps out at you during the viewing?
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – Are you equipped to buy this property? Does it fit your model, experience, level of expertise and/or are you capable of running/maintaining/managing this property or its needs (Even if you’re using an agent)
  • The General House Viewing Checklist

    First on our house viewing checklists, is finding out the condition of the property as we detailed above with the minimum viable list.

    It’s important to inspect the property before committing to the purchase for obvious reasons but also so that you have no regrets and the property fits your requirements.

    You need to be absolutely sure that it’s the right house for your portfolio before committing to an offer. You may initially feel like rushing as you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but it’s completely up to you.

    Factors that could affect the length of time your viewing takes include:

  • The size of the property
  • Whether other parties are interested or have viewings booked
  • If the structure or layout is unusual
  • If it’s your first viewing
  • If there are obvious issues to inspect
  • Don’t let these put you off. View what YOU need to view don’t view to anyone else’s expectations about what you should do or what they think about the property.

    This will help you develop your opinion of the property ahead of a more detailed room-by-room checklist.

    A Room-by-Room Property Viewing Checklist

    The Kitchen

    The kitchen tends to be one of the most renovated parts of a house, and you certainly shouldn’t settle for a sub-par kitchen area unless your plan is to renovate it or it’s within your property investment model. Take note of the fixtures, worktops and design as a whole when viewing the house.

    Here are the questions you should be asking yourself when viewing the kitchen:

  • What fixtures and fittings are included in the sale (ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers etc)?
  • Are all fitted cupboards in good condition? Remember to check inside.
  • Are the taps and drains functioning? Test them when appropriate.
  • Are the built-in kitchen appliances such as the oven, hob and extractor fan working?
  • Will the kitchen be professionally cleaned before purchase?
  • Is there any sign of dampness or mould underneath the sink?
  • Is there much storage?
  • Is there enough space for a dining table and chairs (not always relevant but a bonus if so)?
  • What size fridge/freezer/dishwasher/cooker would fit AND WHERE?
  • The Bathroom

    Bathrooms are an important part of any property, but they can sometimes be neglected in terms of renovation. A poorly maintained bathroom can cause all sorts of problems within a house, so keep the following in mind:

  • Is there adequate ventilation/extraction?
  • Do all taps/showers work? Again, test them if you can.
  • Are there any signs of mould or mildew or freshly painted ceilings that may conceal this?
  • Is the silicon sealant still watertight or is it coming away from the wall?
  • Is there a bath or shower?
  • Is the bath panel loose? Are there signs of rot underneath?
  • What is the water pressure like?
  • Does the toilet flush?
  • Is there any sockets?
  • Living Room and Dining Room

    People spend a large amount of time in both the living room and the dining room so be sure to check them thoroughly. It’s likely to be the area you redecorate and change to fit your requirements, so here’s what to ask yourself:

  • How much light does the room get?
  • Do all the light switches work?
  • Is there textured wallpaper or ceiling plaster?
  • Is the wall behind furniture and counters clean and smooth?
  • Any unsightly wall mounts?
  • Is there a fireplace and is it functioning?
  • Are there enough radiators
  • Are there adequate plug sockets?
  • Are the carpets in good condition?
  • Does it have ample storage?
  • Are there any cracks in the wall or ceiling?
  • Bedrooms

    These private spaces are likely to be redesigned to fit your requirements for the property, so it’s worth concentrating on the quality and size of the rooms during the property viewing. Here’s what you should consider:

  • What size bed would fit there?
  • Is there a built-in wardrobe?
  • Is there enough storage?
  • Is the flooring, carpet and wallpaper/walls in good condition?
  • Are the rooms well ventilated?
  • Is there any sign of mould or mildew?
  • Is the size adequate?
  • Are curtains and fittings included in the sale?
  • Do the lights currently work?
  • Is there a working lock on the door?
  • Are the tiles & grout in good condition or will they need replacing?
  • Check the door architrave to ensure tiles have not been covered before removing the old tiles. You’ll see there is enough space to get another tile on without protruding the architrave.
  • What is the flooring like? 
  • The Garden Viewing Checklist

    If the property you’re viewing has a garden, then there are a few points to keep in mind during the viewing, such as how much sun it will get, who owns it and what it contains. Whilst viewing the garden, here’s a checklist to consider:

  • Is there a front or back garden? Perhaps both?
  • Is the garden private or shared?
  • Where are the boundaries?
  • What time of day does the garden get the sun?
  • Will the seller be moving parts of the garden such as pots and trees?
  • Will the garden take a lot of effort to maintain?
  • Are there any large trees dominating the garden?
  • Is there a clear divide between the garden and neighbour?
  • Do neighbouring houses overlook the garden?
  • If there is a shed, is it in working condition?
  • Do hedges overhang pavements or roads? Are they the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain?
  • Whilst you’re viewing the garden, keep an eye out for things like plants that can damage your property, damage to outbuildings, or general signs of neglect as the work needed may be rather significant if previously left unattended. Issues like Japanese Knotweed, ivy, large cracks or rotten structures could be indicators that the garden needs more work than you’re willing to provide. Remember, this kind of work is classed as dead money. It might improve the garden, but it won’t help you achieve more rent.

    Warning Signs During Your Viewing!

    Here, we’ve created a ‘structural’ house viewing checklist of the main issues to keep in mind when walking through a property. These are points to consider across the entire house, as many of the issues highlighted may be a sign of structural problems and require a property survey to dictate the extent of the damage. These include:

  • Are there any cracks or signs of subsidence? Major cracks could be a sign of structural movement, which will mean hiring a structural expert to assess the issue. Major structural movement could result in costly damage control and constant monitoring. If the issues become too dangerous, it could mean underpinning is required, which is an invasive and expensive procedure.
  • Is the roof in good condition? Does it dip in any points? Roofing is expensive to replace, and a poorly maintained roof can lead to structural and damp issues in the future.
  • Is the roof flat? Though a cheaper option, flat roofs won’t last as long as pitched roofs, so keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear.
  • Is the property at risk of flooding? Speak to your estate agent about whether the property is on a flood plain, but also keep an eye out for any running water nearby.
  • Are the drains and gutters modern and functioning? Avoid stagnant, pooling water by scrutinising the drainage and drain pipes and guttering during your viewing.
  • Can you see or smell damp, mould or mildew in the house? Keep a keen eye out for any signs of dampness, especially in older homes. In many cases, this is easily managed, but you’ll want to arrange for a specialist damp survey to properly assess the situation. Damp proofing may prove costly and may affect your choice to go ahead with the purchase.
  • Do the windows and doors open and close easily? Warped frames can be a sign of structural movement or, at the very least, mean replacing the windows and doors.
  • To go alongside these checklists, we’ve also created a few top tips on how to get more information about the house and how to get the absolute best out of your viewing experience.

    Our top tips for viewing a house are:

  • View the property at different times of the day. If possible, arrange for a second viewing at a different time of day so you can get a feel for the property throughout a normal day.
  • Explore the area at different peak times. Walk around the area in the morning, during afternoon commuting hours, and evening. This will ensure that traffic and noise is manageable at all times.
  • Try to view property with another. Always go with an agent and bring a partner, family member or friend along to the viewing. A second opinion is always helpful as they will spot things you don’t.
  • Take your time. Don’t feel rushed during a house viewing; take your time to really take in the property. Don’t be afraid to split off from the estate agent for a walk around.
  • Take lots of photographs. You’ll likely be viewing a range of houses, so keep everything fresh in your mind by taking photos throughout the viewing (it’s courteous to ask permission, of course).
  • Drive around the area. Get a feel for the safety of the area by driving around the streets.
  • Put together a list of questions. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time to ask the seller or estate agent so you’re fully prepared.
  • When Viewing a Flat

    Although many questions will be relevant for both viewing a house and a flat, there are some differences to consider.

    Here are a few extra questions to ask when viewing a flat:

  • Is it leasehold or freehold?
  • Is there ground rent or a service charge? How much will this cost?
  • Will you have to contribute to a sinking fund?
  • What’s the name of the freeholder or managing agent?
  • How long is the lease?
  • Are there options to extend the lease, and if so, at what cost
  • Are there communal spaces?
  • How many residents live here?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants to be aware of?
  • Are there any outdoor areas?
  • What services will be shared between residents?
  • Is there a residents’ committee?
  • So, there you have it, a minimum viable checklist and several smaller lists to consider when viewing properties.

    Now, please note that an exhaustive checklist can’t be created as your requirements and the type of houses you’re looking for will present different scenarios and considerations, so it’s down to you to do your due diligence and do it well. Hopefully, you have plenty food for thought here to run with.

    Remember we run a Property Tour & Analysis course where we will educate you, then take you to view various properties and return by showing you how to analyse them using our free (as part of the course) ‘Feasibility Template’

    For more info CLICK HERE

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