It might seem like a perfectly straight forward thing in which to partake; a viewing. You are probably wondering how on earth we could possibly consider it something important enough to advise our readers on. Because walking into a property in order to see what it looks like does, on the face of it, seem like a simple thing to do. But what you have to ensure is that when you view, you do in fact see what it looks like to you. And that is the crux of the matter. We would probably all agree that a good sales person can make a difference to a viewing to the same extent that a bad sales person can. But that is the point, there is a grey area, there is an area in which someone other than you can affect the way in which you view a property and in order to remove this factor from the equation, you need to make sure you are viewing the property properly.
The first step is to come armed, ask for a PDF of the brochure to be emailed to you in advance of the viewing and read it. Look at the floor plan and have an idea of the layout in your head before you arrive. Make a list of questions that you have which are not answered by the particulars for example; is it leasehold or freehold or share of freehold? If it’s leasehold, how long is there remaining on the lease? (this an area is a minefield of issues and there is not enough time for me to go in to any level of detail on it here. Suffice it to say that it is an area so technical, that there are many highly intelligent human beings who have dedicated their entire careers to understanding it to the point at which they can navigate it safely. For the purposes of this article, raise your eyebrows if the lease is less than 100 years and start thinking about your long terms plans and when you might want to dispose of it. If the lease is less than 80 years – seek proper advice from someone who is in a position to advise you and no, I do not mean the estate agent who is selling the property). Make sure you know if there is service charge and ground rent, what they amount to annually and how the service charge is formulated.
When you arrive at the property, in the interests of politeness, let the estate agent take you around in the way in which they believe shows the property off in its best light. But make sure you then ask to wander around under your own steam, do not feel the need to engage in constant chatter just look, and take in each room. Taking your own photographs is a good idea, but make sure you ask first. Once you have finished looking around, then start to chat and ask the questions you need to ask. Do not be rushed. If you need to go back, go back, spend as much time as you need to in order to get a proper feel for the property. At the start of my career I remember being told by an esteemed estate agent that people spend more time in a car they are thinking of buying than they do inside a property they are considering….. and I don’t think he was wrong. I also know people who refuse to buy a property before they’ve spent a night in it – that is always a challenging negotiation for anyone and it is particularly fortunate that they don’t move house very often. The point is this, everyone needs different things from a viewing, make sure you get what you need before you commit to negotiations, sellers are always far more reluctant to afford you time inside once everything has been agreed because once the deal is done, they will always be worrying that a repeat viewing means a change of heart.