An average buyer spends a few minutes walking round a property, perhaps visits twice, then commits a huge amount of money to buy it. Too many buyers later regret that they didn’t investigate more. The reason you don’t, is because you feel pressured for time or you don’t know what to check. Only after discovering the fault, can you wish you’d checked that, with hindsight. What we are providing below is exactly that – the wisdom of hindsight.
Most viewings offer up poor conditions to make a decision: time is usually too short (you’d take longer viewing a second hand car, or in the changing room with a bunch of dresses). Estate Agents often talk throughout to highlight the ‘lifestyle’ qualities of the property, to detract from any negatives of a property. Emotions can be high, as this is a big decision and other peoples views (parents, family, friends) can be in your mind.
How to Conduct Yourself on Viewings
Viewings are a Science not an Art form. If all you do is look at the wallpaper and the kitchen cupboards, you’ll look past some wonderful properties. Here’s how to get the best from viewings:
1. Enter the Estate Agents work and mobile phone numbers into your mobile phone when you register with them. List them under the name of the Estate Agent, then write the Agents name afterwards. It’s so much easier to find them in your phone book this way.
2. Note down property addresses in the notes function on your mobile phone, or put a piece of paper in your wallet/ purse. Otherwise you’ll just forget.
3. Arrive on time – Estate Agents have busy schedules, respect the appointment slot. If you will be late, call or text the agent on their mobile phone. If you keep turning up late to viewings, they simply won’t invite you on any.
4. Alot of sellers request you remove shoes on entering a property – this is normal, take socks if you don’t wear them.
5. Don’t make personal comments about the decoration, colour, mess or smells if the owner is with you. If you annoy them they may not consider your offer if you make one. Property selling is a very emotional game. Instead imagine if the space, layout, size and rooms work for you.
6. Take your time. If you like the property, spend as much time there as you can, sit on the sofa, dining chairs and beds to see if it ‘feels right.’ This is something few buyers will do. It’s perfectly ok to sit on chairs if you ask permission first. You need to imagine what the property is like to live in, not view. Also, when you sit on a chair or sofa, or even a bed, you get a very different perspective of the room and space.
7. If the property feels right, go through your checklist (provided on the next page). No need to waste your time if you don’t like the property, just move on.
8. Always thank the owners when you leave (even if they did follow you around). If you end up buying the property, they will remember you as a good person and be more lenient with your demands.
9. When you have left the property give the estate agent an indication of what you are thinking, then follow up with full thoughts later on. If you hate it, just state why and be specific – too dark, small garden, weird layout… rather than saying “it’s not me.”
10. On the way to and from viewings agents can be more ‘open’ and off-guard. Ask them lots of details about each property such as if they know when it was last purchased, how much for, have any homes in the street sold recently, what are the worst elements of the area in their opinion.
Keep them talking before and after you go in (they may give you very useful information they can’t talk about on the phone) then tell them to keep quiet once they have given a description of each room, so you can have time to collect your own thoughts.
Special tip: when you walk around a property, stop. Close your eyes. What is the first word that you see or hear, or the first feeling you sense? This is your true ‘unconscious’ response to the property… your brain has just cut out all the advertising, marketing and emotion and told you what it thinks!
11. Repeat viewings. Never agree to buy a property after one viewing. If you really like it, go back the next day, or the same day. If competition is intense, place an offer subject to a second viewing. Just make sure you spend more than 10minutes summing up the most expensive decision of your life.
Many viewers tell me they feel embarrassed going for multiple viewings of the same property, taking friends and family back for a second opinion and asking lots of questions. You know what? Sellers and Agents love these people. They want you to be committed if you say you will buy the property. They would rather show you five times in advance and then see a smooth purchase, than have you make an offer, have doubts and pull out. Forget what the world thinks – satisfy yourself.
12. It’s a good idea to keep a notebook with you on viewings or create a note page on your smartphone/ iPhone/ iPad as remembering details is hard work.
13. Keep a property folder at home with property details from agents. Print out properties you liked but missed as you can’t always find them again on the internet after they have sold. If you end up searching for a few months it helps to go back to old property details to compare square footage to price, location, layouts and so on.