Taking the plunge to buy your first home tends to be exciting and daunting in equal parts – especially if you feel like you have no idea what you’re looking for. We’ve put together a checklist of the main things you need to look out for during your first-home house viewings.

Before you go:

  • Make a short list of “must-haves” to keep you focused on your search, whether it’s number of bedrooms, outdoor space or miles away from the office.
  • Be prepared to be a bit flexible – especially for your first home and especially in London. The goal is to get on the ladder, not to buy your ‘forever’ home.
  • If you’re planning to view several properties then draw up a comparison table to help you remember each property later. Include things like size, condition and key features, as well as your initial impression.
  • Finally, note down the measurements of your largest pieces of furniture – it’ll be better to know sooner rather than later if your heirloom dining table won’t fit.

Outside the house:

  • Have a look at what’s nearby – convenient shops, or noisy bars?
  • What is the parking like, will you (or guests) need a permit?
  • What’s your commute going to be like?
  • Try and see what the roof is like – roof repairs can quickly add up, even if you’re splitting the cost between other tenants.

Once you’re inside:

  • Look for substance over style. While a fresh paint job and modern fittings are nice, don’t let them distract you from loose wires, ageing windows and rickety floorboards.
  • Check that the rooms are big enough for key pieces of furniture. Room sizes can be deceiving when the space is filled with someone else’s furniture (or completely empty).
  • Light: does each room have enough? Are there streetlights outside the bedroom or living room which might be annoying?
  • How much built-in storage is there? If the house is lacking on internal cupboards, will there be enough floor-space for freestanding units?
  • Don’t be afraid to flick light switches, turn on the taps and make sure that doors and windows are all working properly.
  • Scope out the plug sockets in each room – are there enough, and are they in sensible places? Where is the phone line?
  • Look out for mildew splotches, peeling paint and condensation beads, which tend to indicate damp.
  • What kind of heating is currently installed – will you need to make upgrades?
  • How does the house smell? Cigarette smoke and pet odours might be hard to get rid of, while damp, sewage or gas signal an underlying issue with the property. Be wary of overpowering artificial scents that may be being used to mask these smells, too.
  • There are other tactics for disguising problems – look out for oddly-positioned area rugs or wall hangings and pay attention to radios that might be muffling the sound of neighbours, planes or trains.

If it sounds like there’s a lot to look out for, that’s because there is. On top of all the physical features of the home, you also have to consider how much ground rent and council tax you’ll be paying, the history of the land it’s built on (is it a brownfield site or flood-risk?) and whether there have been any legal issues in the past.

Before making your decision about a property, it’s always best to enlist the help of professionals to make sure everything is in good working order. A property survey will alert you to any structural defects within the building, while a specialist conveyancer will look for legal issues and help your transaction go through smoothly.

If you would like any information about how Daily Move can help you make your move, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.