• Jun2016

    Although extremely exciting, buying a property can be a daunting process, particularly when taking the initial steps and first viewing houses. There will be a vast amount to take in when first looking around a property, which means key factors can be easily overlooked.

    Here, property expert Michael Bruce, CEO of the UK’s leading hybrid estate agents Purplebricks.com shares his expert thoughts on property viewings, providing top tips to get the most out your experience whilst keeping on top of the crucial information.

    1) Failure to prepare, prepare to fail

    Before your first property viewing, create a list of key questions you would like to find out the answer to. Decide what is important for you in a house, whether that be distance of local schools, how long since it was last decorated or type of neighbours, and do not be afraid to make sure your wish list is answered before you leave. On the day it is essential to take a pen and paper and make notes, both for the answers to your wish list questions, but also for any additional comments. When viewing lots of properties, particularly if these viewings are spread over a few weeks, important information is likely to slip your mind. Jot down some defining features to help you remember the property, for example, statement fireplace in the kitchen, and also use your notebook for any ‘red flags’. Once home, finalise these notes so they are in an easy to read document. Although this may seem time consuming this will prove invaluable when you begin to shortlist your properties. In the same vein, take photos during your viewing. Often people feel too embarrassed to do this but there is no better way to remember exactly what a room looks like than having the image in front of you.

    2) Time of Day

    In the first instance I would always suggest viewing a new property in natural daylight. The light will bring any problems to your attention quickly, whether that is a larger external structural issue or simply a stain on the carpet. Plus, you can explore the garden (if there is one) and also take a stroll around the surrounding area to get a feel for your potential new neighbourhood.

    If you like the property and are considering making an offer, I would suggest attending your second viewing at a different time of day. This could be in the evening so you can assess what it would be like to spend the night in your new home. Do you have an avid music fan next door ?Alternatively, book your viewing in during rush hour to assess whether it is particularly busy or noisy. Finally, practice driving the route from work to your potential new home as an anticipated 10 minute journey may turn into a 50 minute journey during peak time.

    3) Check for Red Flags

    ‘Red flags’ are particularly relevant for older properties – key issues that potentially may be expensive in the long run. A red flag doesn’t have to prevent you putting an offer in for a house but they are issues you should be aware of. Key flags to check for centre on appliances and utilities. Old boilers, for example, can be extremely costly and difficult to repair. As well as financial burdens, older models come with the impractical burden of lack of heating and water if they do end up breaking.  Research boiler models before viewing a house and always ask if the current owners know how old it is.

    There are a number of other key ‘red flags’ to look out for. Common problems in properties include mould and damp. Sometimes these can be disguised by tactics such as mould remover which doesn’t solve the root of the problem. Pay particular attention to outside walls, behind the sofa and the bathroom to spot the tell-tale signs.

    Although we may take it for granted, not all properties have double glazing. It is extremely important to ask this question as single glazing will land you with large heating bills and double glazing is costly to install.

    In addition, it is also important to know which ‘white goods’ are included in the sale of the property. Be direct and ask the questions – will I have this fridge, dishwasher, oven etc. when I buy the house? Once clarified you can then decide if these are items you actually want. If an item is slightly worse for wear ask the current owner if they can organise for the removal of said item. Removals can be another hidden, unexpected cost you may encounter. ‘White goods’ can be used for negotiations later on so it is essential to find out exactly what comes with the property and assess the condition of these items.

    4) Storage Hunter

    When you view a property be mindful of storage. You may fall in love with the property but if you cannot fit in all your belongings this may alter the feel of the house as it becomes cluttered. So decide early on whether you are ready to chuck things out or whether you can create extra storage areas. Many savvy sellers will ‘declutter’ before they put their house on the market, so it’s worth taking the time to visualise where you would put everything.

    5) Mental Mind Set

    Whilst this point may seem obvious it is important to be physically and mentally well on the day of viewings. Don’t go hungry as without realising it you never pay as much attention on an empty stomach! Do not try and fit too many viewings into one day – you may overlook a really great property in your rush to finish. Similarly, you may miss ‘red flags’ in a not-so-great property. Try to be well rested and go into the viewing with a positive mind-set, finding a property should be an enjoyable experience after all!

  • In the lead up to listing your home it is important you make sure your property’s potential value is realised. We asked five of our Local Property Experts to share some ways in which you can increase the value of your home in 2016. Read on…

    Planning Permission


    One of the cheapest ways to add value without spending a fortune is to gain planning permission for an extension or loft conversion. This gives potential buyers confidence that they can carry out the work themselves and mould a house into a home. If time or money is restricted, a pre application to a local planning authority is cheaper and faster than a full planning application.

    Increase Space


    Increasing space is always the best way to enhance the value of your home, as long as it is in keeping with the area you live. Care needs to be taken sometimes not to over extend a property as you may then be restricted by a ceiling price. Finally, if you have the option to drop a kerb and make a driveway from your front garden, it often makes a considerable difference to your home. In my area this can add between £10k and £15k in value.

    Face Lift


    More times than not, people make up their minds within the first 15 seconds as to whether they will buy a house. I believe a good de-clutter and spending a bit of money on a professional cleaner will almost always increase the value of your home. First impressions count after all!

    Office or Bedroom?


    Whilst converting a bedroom to an office may be beneficial to many, it may devalue your property. It’s far more beneficial to keep a bedroom so the new owner can decide what to do with it. Losing a bedroom will more than likely reduce value even if it is clear that it can be converted back.

    Focus On The Kitchen


    Kitchens are without a doubt the showpiece of each and every home that is up for sale. No longer simply the domain for culinary requirements, kitchens need to be versatile. Invest in modern fittings and if possible find room for an inbuilt work surface. It’s said that a modern kitchen can increase the value of a property by 4-5%.

  • You’ve bagged yourself a viewing? Terrific. Now the fun starts. Making sure your home is in top condition and you may just bag an offer. Here are 7 tips to hosting the perfect viewing…

    Opening Gambit

    Don’t under estimate the importance of your entrance. If you’re kerb appeal is strong viewers will be practically begging to enter. If you’re entrance is dismal, they may not even want to. Sure, the key rooms in a property are your bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. But if you’re entrance resembles the gates of hell, those key rooms won’t come off half as strong. Make your entrance bright and welcoming. De weed the walk way. Clean your double glazing and polish brass fittings. Have fresh flowers in the hall way. Open curtains and windows to air out your home.

    Be Positive

    Understand that your persona and appearance will be just as important to a viewer as the appearance of your house. A home is in many ways a reflection of the owner. If you’re moody and stressed consider how your house will come across to potential buyers. Think happy owner, happy house.

    Kitchen Is Key

    By and large, the heart of any home is the kitchen and like the heart, it needs to be efficient and clean. De-clutter and remove any appliances such as toasters and kettles to create more space. Clean and put away washing up – you’d be surprised at how often this doesn’t happen. Ovens, hobs and microwaves attract grease and dirt like no tomorrow, so ensure these areas are scrubbed clean. Functionality is the goal. Kitchens are usually on the receiving end of mess – it’s important it’s not in this condition come viewings.

    To Show Or Not To Show…

    …that is the question. Once you’ve welcomed viewers, it will be important to gauge whether they wish to roam or be shown. Some viewers will rather you be hands on, showing them around. Others will prefer to explore for themselves. If they choose to be shown it’s important you don’t come across too pushy for the sale. Oh, and if your property has a unique selling point, save that trump card till last! Of course, your Local Property Expert will also be on hand to conduct viewings should you need them.

    Take Advantage Of Your Garden

    A garden can be a real bonus when undertaking viewings. Although the focus will quite rightly be on the interior of the property. A well-kept garden could be the difference between securing an offer and not.


    It’s important to realise that once your home is up for sale, it is effectively no longer yours. You need to distance yourself from the attachment a home creates and understand that seeing it as a house rather than a home will benefit your chances of selling.

    No Pets Allowed

    Although cute, Rover will only get in the way and may distract viewers from picturing themselves living in the property. Some viewers may also have allergies and fears of certain animals – so play it safe and find a way to remove them temporarily from the property.

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