Three Questions to Ask Yourself When Viewing a Property

If you've decided to purchase a new home and have asked a real estate agent to arrange a viewing of a property you're interested in, here are a few questions which you should keep in mind during your visit to the house.

Is it structurally sound?

Being able to spot the small signs of structural weaknesses in a property could save you a lot of heartache and expense in the future; if you purchase a house with serious structural problems, you could find yourself having to pay for major reparative work.

During the viewing process, keep an eye out for wide cracks on both the interior and exterior walls. Whilst a few small, narrow cracks are rarely cause for concern, wider ones could indicate that the house has a subsidence issue (subsidence is a process that results in a property sinking downwards into the earth). This is particularly true if the cracks are located around the house's weak spots (such as its doorways and windows). If the doors and windows look slightly warped or seem to stick slightly when you try to open or close them, this could also mean that there is a subsidence problem.

Are there any signs of dampness?

Damp is notoriously difficult to get rid of and can pose a risk not only to the house itself (it can damage plastering and wallpaper, and can lead to the development of wet rot in a property's framework) but also to those who live in it; any form of mould can be a health hazard to those with respiratory disorders.

Given this, it's vital to search for signs of dampness during your viewing. Look out for discolouration on the ceilings and walls, as well as patches of flaking plaster. There may also be sections of blistering paint or peeling wallpaper. Additionally, there may be a musty, mouldy smell in the air. If you spot any of these things, think long and hard before committing to purchasing the property, as removing damp can be an expensive and complicated process.

Is the neighbourhood nice?

The area in which the property is located can determine how enjoyable it will be to live in. This is why it's crucial to take a long look at the neighbourhood that the house is in. Ideally, you should try to visit on more than one occasion, at different times of the day, so that you can get a good idea of what the surrounding area is really like.

Check if there are any bars or nightclubs nearby; if so, bear in mind that the area could get very rowdy in the evenings. Similarly, look at a map to see if there are any train stations or main roads nearby, as again, this could make your life miserable if you're sensitive to loud noises.

If you don't want to have to drive or take public transport every time you need some milk, bread or other basic everyday items, it's also important to make sure that the area has a nearby shop that is within walking distance.

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