Estate agent showing a couple around a house. Image used in the Top tips for viewing a house - the complete guide blog

Top tips for viewing a house – the complete guide


Buying a property is one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. Therefore, it is essential to make the most of your time when you are viewing a house.

A viewing allows you to see first-hand the properties that are available on the market. It is also when you will first step into your new home.

While the viewing process can be an exciting one, it is important to remain impartial and maintain an objective mindset.

In this guide, we will be sharing our top tips for viewing a house.

This guide to viewing a property includes:

Questions to ask when viewing a house

To get the most out of your house viewing, it is important to ask the estate agent and vendor the right questions.

Below is a list of questions to ask when viewing a property.

  • How many viewings has the property had?

Asking how many viewings a property has had will highlight how popular this particular property is. If new to the market, this may highlight that the property and/or area is in demand. Therefore, there may be multiple individuals who are interested in purchasing the property.

  • How long has the property been on the market?

If a property has been on the market for over three months, ask the agent why they think the property is not selling. It could be a sign that there are underlying issues with the house, or it may be overpriced for the area.

  • Have there been any offers made?

While an estate agent will not say the value of these offers, they will be able to disclose if any offers have been made. Knowing if an offer has been made will connote how quickly you will need to act.

  • Why are the vendors moving?

Understanding why the current owners are moving can give you an insight into the environment surrounding the property. The vendor may be moving to downsize, to move closer to work or to accommodate their growing family.

  • How long has the seller lived here?

It is a good idea to ask how long a seller has lived at the house as it will give a good indication of the surrounding area, neighbours and the property itself. If they only lived at the house for a couple of months, this may indicate underlying problems or issues.

  • What are the neighbours like?

Buying a property is one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. Therefore, it is important to establish what the neighbours are like and if there have been any past issues with the current vendors and neighbours.

  • Is this property part of a chain?

A chain is a series of linked house purchases with each depending on the preceding and succeeding purchases. Properties in a chain can be hassle free however, this requires all parties to be organised. Houses in a chain can take longer to complete if there are complications on the seller’s end.

  • What is included in the property sale?

When viewing a property, ask what is included in the sale. The vendor may leave appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. They may have also decided to leave their garden shed too. Before signing any contracts for the house, make sure you have these appliances and items in writing. This will protect you from walking into an empty house on completion day.

  • How old is the boiler and when was it last inspected?

If the property has a boiler, ask to see this boiler to make sure it looks to be in good condition and check when it was last inspected. If you decide to buy this house, it is up to you to arrange a boiler inspection before it is due.

  • What is the area like?

This will likely be the area you live in for at least the next couple of years, so it is important to feel safe and comfortable. Ask about the local schools, the crime rate, transport links and what the traffic is like during the rush hour. Conduct your own research on the area by visiting at different times during the day and the week. Remember that you can renovate a house, but you cannot move it to a new location.

  • What is the parking like in the area?

If the property does not have off-street parking, make sure to ask about parking facilities around the area. Will you have a dedicated parking space? Is the parking first come, first served? Are there any resident’s parking around the area?

  • How much are the utility bills?

While the costs of utility bills may differ between you and the current vendors, discovering how much the vendor has paid for their bills may provide a great guide and allow you to budget. It is a good idea to find out how much the rates are so that you can include these in your budget too.

  • Is the property insulated?

Check to see if the property in question is insulated. Insulating your home can save money on your heating bills so check to see if the walls, roof and floor are insulated and if the windows are double glazed.

  • Are there any plans for development near the property?

A major selling point of a property may be the rear garden which overlooks open rural views. However, will the property still appeal to you if the rear garden overlooks a construction site for a new development? Before signing any contracts for a house sale, be sure to ask about any developments around the area in the near future. The answer may impact your decision to proceed with the sale.

What to look for when viewing a house

The above questions will help to provide an overview of the property and its surrounding area. However, it is also important to conduct your own investigations during the viewing process.

When you take your first step into your potential new home, it is easy to be dazzled by a great first impression or feel pressurised by watching eyes only to have a quick look around.

However, it is important to make the most of the property viewing. Conducting your own investigations during the viewing may confirm that your initial dazzling impressions were correct or that there are underlying issues present.

Below is a list of things to look for when viewing a house:

  • Check for damp

Take a look at the ceiling and behind any furniture to ensure that damp patches are not being covered over. Is there a damp smell lingering around a room? Even when not visible, if you can smell damp, it could cause problems in the future.

  • Check for areas that have been repainted or recently plastered

A property may have been repainted or recently plastered to help the vendor with a quick sale. However, look closer. The recently repainted wall may be hiding a damp spot.

  • Check for cracks around the windows, where extensions join, end of terrace walls and bay windows

Check around the walls, windows and where extensions join for large cracks. Ensure that the property is structurally sound before signing the contract.

  • Is the double glazing intact?

Double glazing will help to reduce noise and lower your heating bills so make sure the double glazing is intact. Condensation between the two panels may indicate that the glazing has been damaged.

  • Are the rooms big enough for your needs?

When strolling through the property, try to imagine your own furniture in the room. Is the room large enough? Are there any oddly shaped areas that would prove difficult to furnish?

  • Is there enough storage space?

If you plan on living in this house for a number of years then storage space is essential. Think seasonal items, suitcases, keepsakes – the list is endless.

  • Is the roof in good order? Are there any missing tiles?

Before leaving the viewing, be sure to check the roof. Are there any missing tiles? Do the gutters need cleaned or replaced? A roof offers protection to your house and possessions so make sure that it is in top condition.

  • Check in all fitted wardrobes and cupboards

It is important to open any fitted wardrobes and cupboards in the property to ensure they work correctly, that there is enough space and that no damp is lingering in these fittings.

  • Check for water leaks – even under the kitchen sink

Water leaks can be easily fixed. However, if left they can turn into a major problem. Check all sinks to ensure that water is flowing through the pipes correctly.

  • Check the attic

Ask to see the attic to assess space and whether the insulation, water tank and plumbing are in good condition.

Additional tips when viewing a house

  • Don’t get caught up in how the vendors are using the space. Try to imagine the property as a shell with your own furniture in the rooms.
  • It is a good idea to visit the property at different times throughout the day. Visit in the morning to get an idea of the rush hour traffic. You can also take a walk through the vicinity in the evening to assess how quiet the area is.
  • Why not drive to work from the area? This will allow you to get a taste of your daily commute.
  • If you are viewing a property, it is easy to forget certain features and can be difficult to remember each room by memory, especially if you are viewing multiple houses. If you would like to take some photos, make sure to ask for permission. A photo can help to relive the memory and may also highlight things that you missed on your initial viewing – such as a damp spot or a crack.
  • It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of viewing a property. However, it is important to remain impartial. Bringing a friend to the viewing, who will maintain an objective mindset, can help to keep you level-headed and get the most out of your viewing.
  • If this is your dream home then you will want to keep the vendor and estate agent on your side. There may be other viewers after your scheduled slot so arrive early to make the most of your viewing. Arriving early will also give you some extra time to soak up the exterior, garden and area.
  • Check the signal strength on your phone in several rooms. If you have limited to no signal, speak with the vendor to check what network provider they are with.
  • Similar to checking your phone signal, ask the vendor about the broadband they use and its speed.

Ready to begin the search for your dream home?

For more advice on buying a property in Northern Ireland click here