Things to Look for When Viewing a House


With high demand for properties and limited supply in the market, people looking to move may be feeling the pressure. If you find a place that ticks all the boxes, that you can really imagine making your home, it’s tempting to rush in with an offer. But regardless of market conditions, it’s a good idea to really weigh up whether the home is right for you, and to check that it doesn’t come with any unpleasant or costly surprises.

When you view a property, it’s easy to drift from room to room, taking in the atmosphere and getting a feel for the place. That’s important, but you need to be practical too. There are some key checks you need to make and questions you need to ask your vendors or their estate agent. This will mean you approach your decision on the property fully briefed on its good and bad points.

Based on our experience of selling houses in south west London, we’ve created our ultimate house viewing checklist with 10 key things to look out for:

1 Does it have damp?

You can ask the sellers this, but they might not be honest. Use your nose to sniff out any musty smells – the biggest indicator of damp. Look for signs they’ve painted over damp patches too.

2 Is it structurally sound?

This should show up in your survey, particularly if you go for the full building option, but it’s worth asking about any structural problems too. Do your own preliminary checks looking for missing roof tiles, broken guttering and hairline cracks in the walls, inside and out, as well as the condition of the windows. Ask for information about what is causing the issues and if it can be put right.

3 Is there enough storage space?

Built in cupboards and wardrobes are a huge asset, so look around the house weighing up where you will put all your belongings including sheets, towels and bulky items like vacuum cleaners and ironing boards. Check whether the kitchen cupboards are adequate for your needs too. If the home fails the storage test, is there space to add more? It’s definitely worth checking out the attic to see if it’s boarded up and insulated – and whether it has potential for a conversion in the future.

4 What is the aspect?

Which way the house, garden and key rooms face will make a big difference to how light and warm the property will be. South-facing gardens are usually sought after but conservatories with this aspect can be unbearably hot. Use the compass on your phone to check. It’s worth visiting at different times of day too, to view the place as the sun moves round.

5 Is the plumbing up to scratch?

Do a few simple checks in the bathroom and kitchen. Turn on taps to gauge the water pressure, flush the loo to make sure it’s working – and not subject to a constant drip – and run the hot water to find out how warm it gets and how quickly. Have a sniff around the kitchen for drain problems and listen out for gurgling sinks that could signal a problem.

6 What about the windows?

Assess the condition of the windows and doors. Open and close them to check they don’t stick and make sure there are keys present. Look out for cracked window frames and condensation inside double glazing. If the windows were recently installed, ask about FENSA certificates.

7 How much are the bills?

You might want an idea of how much you’ll be spending on your utility bills, especially if you’re upgrading from a flat to a house. The property’s Energy Performance Certificate rating must be shared with you by the seller and their estate agent. This will give you an idea of how energy efficient the home is, but it’s worth asking about bills too. You also need to find out about the local authority and council tax band. In south west London, whether you live in Wandsworth or Lambeth could make a big difference. Find out too if it’s on a water meter or charged quarterly and ask about the bills.

8 Has it got the power?

All the gadgets and chargers that come with modern life mean an adequate number of plug sockets is a must, so check their locations in every room. Look at the fuse box too, which is often a good way of seeing whether the wiring is up-to-date, though this should come out in your survey. Make sure to check the mobile phone signal and ask about the broadband speed.

9 Peace and quiet or noisy neighbours?

If you’re sensitive to noise, listen out for the neighbours’ music, TVs, dogs barking etc. Again, visit at different times of day to check this and always ask. Your sellers should disclose any disputes with neighbours which have been recorded.

10 Why are the sellers leaving?

Though they might not give you an honest answer it’s worth asking. If they are moving for more space, for example, it might highlight an issue with the property. Their motives might also indicate whether they are looking for a quick sale, and could be willing to negotiate.


If you’re looking to buy in south west London, we’d love to talk to you about the different areas we cover and show you our selection of properties – and answer anything you need to know about your potential new home. Please give us a call today.