Tips for House Hunting and Viewing in the UK

Posted on September 8, 2006 in

Having lived in the UK for two years in rented accommodation, we’re now finally looking for a house to buy. The Home and Community section of the UK Government site (Directgov) has some useful advice and questions to ask when going through the process of viewing a house.


  • Before you go to view a house, try to do as much background research as you can on the property and the area so that you do not waste time seeing something that does not meet your needs.
  • When you are ready to view, if you can, take someone else with you, preferably someone with different tastes who may spot things that you miss. 
  • Make sure you view the property during the day when you will be able to see better and spot problems. 
  • If you really like a property try to arrange to view it again at a different time of the day to give you a different perspective.
  • Remember, its your money you are spending so don’t be afraid to ask direct and blunt questions about the property. Take your time, be nosy and don’t be pressurised by the estate agent or vendor into making an offer.
  • Try not to view too many properties in one day.

The house

Things to look out for inside the house and questions to ask:

  • Does the property need updating - if so, how much will this cost?
  • Is the property in a conservation area or a listed building and could this restrict any future alterations?
  • Are the rooms big enough for your needs - furniture etc?
  • What is included in the sale - land, garage, furniture, fittings, etc 
  • Are the views good enough
  • What is the cost of Council Tax and the average costs of other utility? bills such as electricity, gas, water?
  • Why are the sellers moving?
  • Does the house have full central heating? If so, how old is it 
  • How is the water heated? Combination boiler or tank, etc 
  • Have there been any problems with the boiler; when was it last serviced by a Corgi engineer? 
  • If there is a loft, has this been insulated? If so, how long ago?
  • Does the property have cavity wall insulation?
  • Has the property been altered in any way and if so are the relevant planning and building control consents available to inspect?
  • Is there any sign of subsidence (e.g. major cracks in the walls or the doors sticking)
  • Is there a smell of damp or any other sign such as the walls feeling damp, the wallpaper peeling/paint bubbling, watermarks or mould?
  • Do the window frames have cracking paint? (If you can press your finger easily into the wood it’s rotten)
  • Has the room recently been decorated, if so, why (a problem might lie underneath)
  • How much storage space is there?
  • Are there sufficient power points, how old do they look?
  • Does it feel like it could be your home?

The location

You should also make sure the location meets your requirements so here are a few things to think about:

  • Nearby main roads, or pubs, clubs or restaurants - they can be handy, but also noisy
  • Nearby railway lines - or overhead flight paths
  • The feel of the community - does it seem friendly 
  • The aspect of the house - does it get enough light
  • Is the property well maintained
  • The age of the property
  • Garden size
  • The condition of nearby properties
  • How good or near is the public transport?
  • Are the local schools good 
  • Are there any known plans for development in the area
  • What are the local amenities like, shops, hospitals, leisure facilities, etc.
  • What is the crime level like in the area
  • What are the neighbours like? Are they noisy?
  • Has there ever been a dispute with the neighbours (or anyone living nearby)

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