Roughly 80% of buyers do not arrange a professional survey of their new home before they buy it. Instead, they mistakenly rely on the mortgage valuation to flag defects, either because they don’t understand the difference between a valuation and a survey, or are confident that the property seems to be in good condition based on their own viewing.

Obviously, this is a big concern to us as buyers are leaving themselves vulnerable to huge repair costs once they take ownership of the property. However, we know that the value of surveys is often misunderstood and accept that some stubborn purchasers insist that they will be just as good at inspecting a home as an experienced Chartered Surveyor (at least until they’re landed with their first repair bill)!

What’s a bigger worry is that some buyers admit that they don’t really know what they’re looking for when it comes to viewing their potential purchase for a second time. Having seen it once, they’re happy that the room sizes and garden space is adequate and have got a ‘good feel’ of the house or apartment overall. Aside from mentally planning any superficial changes, they’re not sure what’s next, only visiting again because they feel like they should.

To help reduce the number of homeowners filled with regret over the unpleasant hidden surprises in their home, here’s a quick guide to the important parts of a second viewing.

How should you prepare for a second viewing?

Firstly, arrange your viewing at a totally different time of day than your previous visit, preferably when the neighbours are likely to be home. This can give you a better idea of traffic, parking and evening noise.

Bring a tape measure, a notepad, a copy of our buyer’s checklist and a critical friend or family member. We all know somebody who can find a flaw in everything – whether it’s a discerning friend or a hawk-eyed mother-in-law – it’s time to utilise their talents to see beyond your rose-tinted spectacles.

What should you check for on a second viewing?

  • Test EVERYTHING. Flick light switches, run taps, check the shower pressure and try opening and closing all windows and doors.
  • Pay attention to skirting boards, light fittings and plug sockets. If these have been poorly installed it can indicate that the owners may have cut corners with larger renovations.
  • Will you be able to fit your stuff inside? Look at room proportions and built-in storage options.
  • Check the location of the water pump and boiler – these can be very noisy if they’re in a bedroom.
  • Cast a critical eye over bathroom and kitchen units to estimate when they will need replacing – how does this fit into your budget?
  • How close are the neighbours, can people see in the windows? What about when the leaves fall off of trees in winter?
  • Turn off radios and stand near Party Walls to see if you can hear what’s going on next door.
  • Walk around the perimeter of the property to see if there are any reasons to be concerned about the boundary line.
  • Introduce yourselves to the immediate neighbours to ask about the area. Use it as an opportunity to look for kids’ shoes or dog toys in the garden or by the door, which could suggest a noisy lifestyle.

What if the homeowner or estate agent insist on showing you around?

Some buyers are reluctant to poke around too much while someone else is there, but try not to let it bother you. After all, it’s your money and if they are expecting you to pay a fair price for their home then it’s reasonable for you to know what you are getting!

Lastly, it’s really important that you commission a Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report so that a qualified surveyor can investigate the structure of the property before you buy. While the property may look fine on the surface, it takes a trained eye to spot subtler signs of damp, roof damage or safety hazards.

For more information about the surveyor services we offer, or if you would like details about expert conveyancers to help you make your move, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.