10 Things You Must Do at The Second Viewing

August 20, 2020

So you love the property and you’ve decided to book in a second viewing, so what now? In this article, I share the 10 things you must do at the second viewing to help avoid nasty surprises down the road. I’ll share the things to check for and the questions to ask, and I’ll help you make sure that if you do decide to proceed, you are going to the next step with the best information.

This article is a part two of the article that I shared last week about the 10 Questions to Ask at your First Viewing, which you can read through here

This list is for once you have decided that this property has made the cut after your first viewing, and what you need to look for and what you need to ask to ensure there are no surprises down the line if you decide to make an offer. 

Test the windows

The first thing I would recommend is to test all of the windows to confirm whether they are single or double glazed, which is a big thing in older properties. You want to make sure that you have a sense as to what type of window you are dealing with, as replacing the windows on a property can be very expensive. Double glazing provides not just sound insulation, but also heat insulation as well, so if you’re buying an older property that still has single glazed windows you’ll want to know that ahead of time, and know that this will be something that you may have to factor in, especially if the sound and heat is not what you want it to be. 

What is the heating system?

The next question you need to consider at your second property viewing is asking about the heating system and the boiler system. In the UK they have something called a combi boiler (which is not something overseas buyers may not know about). If a property has been refurbished over time, they often use a combi boiler, which typically is a boiler unit that sits in the kitchen or another room, and feeds the radiators which are water-based heat for the home.

You definitely want to know how old the boiler system is, and if it has had any issues. You can find out the brand of the boiler, and if the system is run off of a water tank, then you want to know if it has sufficient water to supply heating to all the bathrooms and all the water sources in the house. 

Say you have a four or five bedroom flat and you have a tank that perhaps is really only sufficient to support one bathroom at a time, you might want to consider supplemental heating sources, or a secondary or larger tank to make sure you have enough hot water if members of your family are taking showers at the same time. 

Test the water pressure

This leads me onto my next tip for your second viewing is to check the water pressure in the shower, and across all of the taps in the home. Sometimes, with the shower, it may just be a simple fix of changing a shower head that might not be particularly effective or efficient, but it could be a bigger issue. I know that, especially in properties that are two and three stories high, sometimes there’s a bathroom on the top floor, it may have a harder time getting that water pressure, if the water system has to push it up to get there. 

I was recently working with one of my international buyers and I went to preview the flat for her in Notting Hill. When I turned on the bathroom tap the drainage would make gurgling noises coming up in the bathtub. This caused some concern, as clearly there was some kind of issue and I took a video and I sent it to my buyer as they may want to investigate further. Now, this may not be a dealbreaker, but you don’t want a nasty surprise like that if you choose to buy or rent the property and all of a sudden when you flush the toilet the whole house goes cold or makes funny noises in other rooms. 

Is the property listed or in a conservation area

The reason you need to know if the property is listed or in a conservation area, is because this may affect your ability to make further improvements down the road. If a property is Grade II or Grade I listed, you will have restrictions on the facade, and the type of work you can do. I know in certain parts of Central London, it was very popular for a while to dig one or two levels down below their properties, and to add things like a subterranean pool or extra internal space. Some of those councils are starting to ban those types of works because it’s just been so disruptive to neighbours, and they are not looking as favorably on this type of work. 

However, in other areas of London, you might be looking at a property with a view to do an extension or something similar, then you definitely want to know what type of issues you may run into and if other neighbours or someone else in the community have done similar work. This can show to you that you may get planning permissions pushed through. 

What are the Porter’s hours and what services do they provide? 

If you are looking at a property that has a porter, you will want to ask the hours they offer, and what services they provide, when you go for your second viewing. For example, some porters might collect keys on your behalf, they may collect your laundry or deliveries, whereas some may not and they may be more of a caretaker for the property. 

Who is living above or below the property?

If you are buying a property with units above or below it, you will want to know who is living in the other units. Things to ask would potentially be if they have children, or the general hours they keep. You will also want to ask what the sound proofing is like, as you don’t want a situation where you buy your dream property and have somebody above you, when the floors are old and creaky, and they have a toddler that’s running up and down making noise. Again, this may not be a deal-breaker, but it is something you want to know in advance. 

 How old is the property?

Older buildings might have issues, whilst they will still be structurally sound, there may be maintenance issues as opposed to a new-build property. If there has been work done on the property, you will also want to know who has done the work, so that you don’t have any nasty surprises coming up, and so you can contact the builder should anything happens. 

A new-build property doesn’t actually mean you are escaping issues with maintenance, however. I once helped a client buy a new-build property in a new development that ended up having serious window and water issues that took years to correct. With this in mind, you will want to know what kind of insurance is supporting that property, particularly if it is in a communal space. 

Is there a sinking fund?

If the property you are looking at for your second viewing s a leasehold or share of freehold, you’re going to want to know if there is a sinking fund that has been set up and is being funded. 

What is a sinking fund? A sinking fund is typically created to address capital improvements, major reworks, or refurbishments that might be happening to the building or communal spaces over time. Again, you don’t want that nasty surprise of buying a flat and the next thing you know, you’re hit with a major refurbishment budget that you didn’t know was coming up, but has been approved by the other leaseholders or freeholders. 

If there is a sinking fund, you will want to know how much money has been put into it. This will also lead you onto asking about the details of the property manager and who has oversight of that building, as well as how it’s looked after. 

What price will the seller be willing to accept?

I mentioned this in my top questions to ask when doing your first property viewing, but this is definitely something you will want to ask at your second viewing too. Some estate agents, like myself, may keep this information close to their chest, but you would be amazed at how much information an estate agent is willing to divulge if you ask! 

I advise asking what price the seller will be willing to sell at, or how low would they consider going, in order to sell the property. 

View the property at different times of day

My last tip for your second viewing is to visit the property at different hours of the day. I cannot stress important this is, as a property that may look lovely during the day time, may completely change at night. You want to make sure you feel comfortable with the property, or if you are purchasing the property as a potential buy to let, you want to ensure potential tenants will feel comfortable too. 

I manage a property for one of my clients who bought their property and spent a lot of money refurbishing it, and they really regret not spending more time checking out the area as he is challenged by the location. So you really want to make sure you get a sense of the property in the early mornings to see if a lot of people are heading to work and causing traffic, if midday is quiet or has a lot of construction in the neighbourhood that causes a lot of noise disruptions, then check if it feels safe at night to get a sense of it all. You can also get a sense of the vibrancy of the community by visiting the area in the early or late evening, which can help you know if it is the right area for you. 

I hope these 10 tips are useful for you to use at your second viewing, and will hopefully prevent you have any nasty surprises, so you’re fully informed if you decide that this property might be the right one for you. 

If you have any questions, please do leave me a comment, and I’d love for you to share what you think is your top tip for a second viewing too. 

© Onyx Property Team

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