It takes time to find your dream home, but exactly how long should you spend viewing a property?
It’s a question many house hunters ask themselves, conscious that they are either overstaying their welcome or not spending enough time making sure the property is right for them.
While there’s no right or wrong answer, there are some guidelines and rules you can follow.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the whole house viewing process for buyers to help you find that perfect property.
How Long Should A House Viewing Last?
The amount of time you should spend viewing a property will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Whether it’s your first viewing of the property
- How many other parties are known to be interested
- If the building is unusual or has obvious issues
If it’s your first viewing you may be able to be in and out fairly quickly as you just need to get a sense of whether you’re interested enough to go back for another viewing.
If it’s your last viewing before you put in an offer, or you know you need to move quickly due to other people being interested in it, you’ll need to spend more time to make sure it’s definitely right for you.
If the building needs work doing or is a non-standard construction you might need to spend more time to work out exactly what the repair and maintenance costs will be.
Typically, a first viewing may only last 20-30 minutes whereas later viewings may need you to spend 60 minutes or more at the property.
Don’t forget to add on some time to wander around the local area to get a feel for the facilities and safety of the area.
How Many Viewings Should You Have?
We touched on having multiple viewings in the last section and it’s a really important point.
Unless having more than one viewing is not possible, it’s always recommended to have multiple viewings.
Checking the property at different times of the day and just revisiting with fresh eyes can make all the difference. Viewing a property between 2 and 4 times before putting in an offer is perfectly normal.
We’ve published another article that will help you here: How Many Times Should You View A House?
What Should You Look For During A Viewing?
There’s a long list of things you should check during a viewing but here’s a condensed version of the key things:
- Is there enough space?
- How about storage?
- Are there any signs of significant issues (damp, subsidence, etc)
- Does the heating work?
- Do all windows and doors open, close, and lock?
- Is the roof and guttering in a good state of repair?
- Is there sufficient parking?
- Are you happy with the noise, traffic, and safety of the area?
Keeping these questions in mind during a viewing will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls. However, it’s worth making your own list based on the things that are important to you.
You’ll also need to be thinking about the general state of repair of the property. If the electrics are outdated, they may need updating, if there’s asbestos in the property, planned refurbishments may be more costly.
The key thing is that you first check the property is right for you and meets your needs. Then, you need to get a good idea of the amount of work that will be required to ‘make it your own’ and the costs involved.
Only once you’ve considered all of this can you start thinking about how much your offer should be. That’s why it’s important not to rush your viewings.
Questions To Ask When Viewing A Property:
There are a number of questions you should be asking when viewing a property. From asking about specific issues or the history of the property, through to asking what the neighbours are like and where the nearest shop/pub/school is.
However, there are three ‘killer’ questions we recommend asking the vendor to strengthen your position when negotiating a lower price for a property.
Question 1: How Long Has The Property Been On The Market?
This will often lead to the seller revealing important information about past offers and interest they have had.
However, the main purpose is so you can start to gauge whether the owner is struggling to find a buyer and therefore may be more open to offers.
Even if you already know the property has been up for sale for a while, you should still ask the question. Doing so makes the owner aware you know the situation and transfers negotiation power into your hands.
Question 2: Have You Already Found Somewhere To Move To?
Again, you’re looking to coax out vital information about how desperate to sell the owner is. If they’ve already found their dream home, they are much more likely to be receptive to offers so they can move more quickly.
The worst-case scenario is that you find out more about the sellers’ position that you can use to your advantage.
For example, if they need to find somewhere to move to but haven’t yet started looking, you could only agree to their asking price on the agreement they move into rented accommodation to ensure there’s no chain.
Question 3: At What Price Would You Take It Off The Market?
This question is so direct that it can throw some sellers. Whereas the estate agent is experienced in fielding such questions, the homeowner often isn’t.
That means you can more easily find the ‘true’ minimum offer you need to make – not the inflated one the estate agent is telling people.
Better yet, if you ask this question last, the seller may have already admitted they need to move fast which may cause them to lower their minimum asking price.
Before asking any of these questions though, try and build up a rapport with the seller. They are more likely to give you detailed and honest answers if you’ve taken some time to build up a relationship first.
House Viewing Etiquette
Whenever you view a property, always remember you’re entering someone’s home. That’s true even if the property is already empty.
Therefore, there are a number of things you should do, as well as some things you shouldn’t!
- Make sure you arrive on time
- Be polite and offer to take off your shoes
- Ask fair questions that will help you make a decision
- Be positive about the things you like
- Bring pets with you
- Bring food or drink into the property
- Be too abrupt about anything you don’t like
Obviously, this is just a small list, there are lots more things to consider. However, if you stick to the above you’ll be on the right track.
Use Property Surveys To Your Advantage
Finally, we are going to look at one other element to consider when thinking about how long to spend viewing a property – property surveys.
Before buying any property you should always conduct a survey through a good chartered surveyor.
There are a few different surveys to choose from so understanding the difference between a homebuyers report and a structural survey is vital.
In short, the homebuyers report will act as your eyes and ears in the property and highlight at a basic level everything you need to know about the condition of the building before you place an offer.
The homebuyers report is, therefore, a great addition to having multiple viewings, it makes sure you haven’t missed anything obvious.
The structural survey is more detailed around the structural integrity of the building and so is usually only necessary if the property is very old or has obvious structural issues.
There is also a valuation report but this will only tell you if you are paying a fair price, it won’t highlight potential issues you may have missed.
Either way, getting a survey carried out is really good practice when buying a property. You can use our handy tool to find chartered surveyors in your area.