What to look for when viewing a house for the first time

Published on
3 June 2021

Buying your first house will almost certainly be the biggest purchase you’ve made so far in your life. So we know you’ll want to do everything you can to get it right.

Here are some tips on what to check when you view a house for the first time and other matters to consider regarding the wider area.

front door of a first time buyer's house

Do your homework

Take time to do some research and preparation in advance of seeing a property and get a feel for the area it’s in. Here are some questions you should think about when looking into the property:

  • Ask the estate agent why the current owners are selling.
  • What have other properties nearby sold for?
  • Ask the seller what the neighbourhood - and the neighbours - are like?
  • How much are the utility and council tax bills?
  • Is there parking and how busy is the road? Will you need a parking permit?
  • How close are shops and other amenities?
  • If you have or plan to have children, is there a school?
  • What is the level of crime locally?

Adam Todd, mortgage and protection advisor at The Cumberland, stresses making sure the price you’re paying is realistic.

What has the property sold for in the past? If it was only bought a year ago and the value has doubled you should be asking why. What other developments are planned in the area? They could be converting the house over the way into a pub. That's something a solicitor will check as well.

Adam Todd - mortgage and protection advisor at The Cumberland

Visiting the house

Once you see the house itself - it pays to visit it on a number of occasions at different times of day - there are some key features you should check.

Firstly, Adam recommends making sure what you’re buying will be big enough for you in the future.

“A lot of first-time buyers will get excited when they're buying their first house and they think, this is absolutely great, there's only two of us. But in two or three years’ time there might be three or four of you in the house.

It's making sure the house is suited to your needs - especially if you've got plans to have children or build a business at home.

Adam Todd - mortgage and protection advisor at The Cumberland

“You don't want to be paying all the fees associated with buying a house now and then having to pay them all again in two years' time when you're trying to move again because you’ve outgrown your first home.”

Campervan parked in fornt of a home

What to look out for

From there, check on the essential features of the property. If you are able to, take along an independent person who won’t be afraid to ask difficult questions of the seller or tell you hard truths.

Some questions to get you started include:

  • Has the boiler been regularly serviced and, if there is central heating, does it work?
  • Is the roof in good order - repairs can be very expensive.
  • Check interior and exterior walls for damp and/or cracks.
  • Do the electrics need upgrading, do all the sockets and lights work?
  • Will you need to immediately redecorate and/or replace carpets?
  • Take a look in the attic and see if the insulation, plumbing and water tank are in good order.
  • What are the broadband speeds and phone reception like?

Adams says it’s all about finding out if you are going to have to spend more money on the house once you’ve bought it.

If you are faced with potential repairs or renovations, get quotes from tradespeople for the work before you commit to buying. Any extra work you will need to do could impact on the offer you make if this is the right house for you.

Like to know more? Check out questions every first time buyer should ask or get in touch to speak to one of our expert advisors.