So, you’ve found what could potentially be your dream home online. The pictures look fantastic and it seems like it ticks all the boxes. You arrange a viewing with the agent – could this be the one? This is the time for you to have an in-detail inspection of the property. So, what should you be looking out for?
First off is the neighbourhood. Have a walk around in advance to see what it looks like – not even Google Streetview can really substitute this. Have a look at the state of nearby properties and streets: are they well kept, both the areas under the local council/municipality and the houses themselves? Are there shops within walking distance? Do many houses seem to be lived-in year-round or are the holiday homes – this could have an impact if you want somewhere with life all year.
How is the public transport situation? If you don’t want to be reliant on a car all the time, this is important to check. If there is an airport or train line nearby, can you hear the noise or is it quite peaceful? Are there pubs or bars nearby? This could be great for a busy lifestyle, or you might find the noise unpleasant.
Is there a school nearby? This could make driving around slow during hometime, or it could be perfectly convenient if you have children yourself!
Before even setting foot inside the house, you’ll notice a few things. How is the sunshine situation? If you visit in the morning and it’s deeply in the shade, this might not be what you want. Alternatively, in hotter countries, this could what you’re looking for!
How is the parking situation? Do you have enough space for your family’s car or cars? Is it on-street or on a driveway or garage?
Do the window frames look in good condition? Keep an eye out for condensation between double-glazing panes – this can be a sign of problems. If a wooden frame is soft to the touch, it might well be rotten. If the paint is peeling, they’re unlikely to have been kept in good condition.
Finally, what about the roof? If you’re in a hot country, you may well have a flat roof. Does it use asphalt or gravel – this can mean seams are unsealed? The best is to have a membrane for a strong sealant.
If it’s pitched, ask if there’s underfelt beneath the tiles or slates. Generally, one without this will be over 50 years old – and will probably soon need replacing.
Make sure that the pitch is at least 35º – if not, it can struggle to support the weight of rainwater that it’ll retain.
Have a look at the gutters. Do the joints look like they’re leaking? If they’re fitted onto timber boards, are they still sound?
Inside the loft, double-check the timbers and rafters. If you see signs of decay, again, they’ll need work. Keep a very careful eye out for woodworm or water entering. On the other hand, if they seem sound, that’s great news!
Inside the house
Now for the fun bit – can you see yourself living here? How’s the layout? Does it suit your needs, either as is or with an acceptable amount of renovation. Is there enough natural light inside?
Think about accessibility, both now and in the future. Is it relatively easy to get around, or will you always be running up and down stairs?
What about space? Think about how you’re going to use it. If you will have frequent guests, will you have room to accommodate them and not feel like you’re all on top of each other? If your family normally gathers in the kitchen, will you have a large, spacious one? Conversely, if you’re more likely to be in the living room, is there lots of room in there?
Finally, what about storage? Remember that you may well find yourself throwing out some of what you have in your current house – so you might not need as much as you think. However, try not to underestimate. Think about where you’d put everything, from things you only use rarely through to daily things like the hoover or mops and brushes.
Make several visits
It’s often said, but that’s because it’s right. Try and see the property and the neighbourhood at different times of the day. Is it peaceful in the evening, and do you feel safe walking around? Is it quite busy at rush hour, or just about right?
Have a chat to your neighbours. Do they love living here, and why? Anything they don’t like? If the language is an issue, your lawyer or agent may be happy to help you out.
For more information about seeing properties, don’t miss our Viewing Trip Guide. Download the How to Negotiate Abroad Guide.
Wherever you choose to buy, you’ll need to protect your money from moving exchange rates: Find out how in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency
Private sellers ? Advertise on Green-acres
Agency ? Advertise on Green-acres