Clients often ask for advice on what to look for when viewing a property – what research should they do? What should they check? Here are a few pointers from Sarah Witheridge – Head of Property Services at WBW Solicitors.

Do your research. Look at the whole area, check the lay of the land on Google Maps to see what is nearby, look on for information on the local area. Ask the agent why the house is being sold, how long it has been on the market if previous sales have fallen through, ask why, and if the price has been reduced from the original price also ask why.

Drive by the house during the day and night – how busy is the road, where do the buses stop, is the house on a rat run, how bright are the street lights, how busy are the pavements outside, how easy is it to park at different times of the day and night.

Make a list of what is important to you. These are the practical things that can get forgotten in the whirl of a viewing. If you have pets, will the property work for them? Will the property `work’ for you as a family? Will your furniture fit? Is the kitchen big enough? Is there parking at the property or nearby?

Make sure you check the outside as well as the inside. Make sure you check the exterior brickwork and surfaces. Are there cracks, is there damp showing, are the gutters and drains in good repair or broken and overflowing? Are the fences or shared drives in a good state and is there any confirmation on who is responsible for repairing these?

Once inside, do not be seduced by the smell of baking bread or flowers in the hall! Check out the obvious things that you can see and make a list of things to remember – do the lights work (if they are on, turn them on and off to check), are the windows in good condition and have keys, do the taps work, what is the water pressure like, is there an odd smell (possible damp) or too much air freshener?

Don’t be misled by first impressions. Be wise to the tricks of the trade – if the lights are on, turn them off to see how the natural light falls if the doors are open – make sure they close, check that the furniture (especially beds and sofas) are standard sizes, discreetly make sure rugs are not covering defective flooring, if the garden is really important to you – take a compass to check which way it faces.

For a leasehold property, try to make sure that you find out how long any lease has left to run. Do the agents know if there are service charges (and how much), who the landlord is and if there is a sinking fund towards repair works, and if there are any repair works underway or in the pipeline.

Don’t be afraid to follow up. Make a list as you go of queries or things to double-check and email the agent when you can after viewing with these, especially if they have not been able to give you answers on the spot.

When you go back for a second viewing, take a family member or a friend for an honest second pair of eyes. Take your list of queries or initial impressions with you and double-check that all that you wanted to know has been addressed and if the property is as you remember. If you have plans to renovate, you might take your builder with you, but it is probably best not to let the seller know if this is the case, as they might want the property to ‘stay as it is’, and this could put them off.

Research tells us that 52% of buyers who spend 10 minutes at a property pay the asking price or above whilst 71% of those that spend more than 90 minutes of a viewing buy for below the asking price. So, my advice would be to take your time, don’t be rushed by the viewing agent, be dispassionate where you can and make sure you know as much as you can before making an offer.

If you are considering in purchasing a property and would like a no-obligation quote, please contact Sarah Witheridge on 01392 274126 or email