House viewing is a process every potential buyer or renter will go through. Once you’ve found a listing that shows good promise, naturally you would make an appointment to view the property. Whether it is a melaka apartment that is fully furnished, or a newly completed house in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, human instinct would tell you that you shouldn’t rent or buy blindly without first looking at what is on offer, that you should not rent or buy sight unseen.
It is easy to get caught in the moment when you find a potentially good property that you think might be ‘the one’ – where you are on a euphoria of good feelings – and forget to check key details or ask key questions during the viewing.
In this guide, we have given you a checklist of 10 tips that are essential to every house viewing process. It is essential that you are as well-informed as you possibly can be to help you make the most out of a property viewing.
Note: This guide is more helpful with completed properties that are either new or sub-sale. A lot of these tips will not be applicable to properties freshly launched or that are still under completion.
1. Don’t see the house as a home
During the initial viewing, it is better to not get attached to any prospective property too early on. Try to think objectively and treat the house as a building in need of inspection. Do not to let your heart rule your head or let good feelings towards a prospective home cloud your judgement. Otherwise, this may cause you to overlook problems that might ending up costing you more in the long run.
Likewise, don’t be discouraged too if you do discover faults and problems with the house during your viewing. This may not necessarily be a bad thing – you can use this as leverage to negotiate for a better price on the house. Depending on the severity of the issue and how much it might cost to rectify it, you have bargaining power to either get the owner to fix it before the sale, or to lower the expected purchase price of the house.
2. Investigate the environment
Once you have narrowed down your choices and have a prospective house in mind, take some time to have a thorough look around the neighbourhood. People usually focus too much on viewing the inside of the house. However, before or after that, you should take some time to walk or drive around the neighbourhood to see if it suits your lifestyle and preferences. Check to see how close the things that matter to you are located, such as food outlets or amenities. Also remember to drive around the area during different times of the day to get a feel of how the traffic is like. You might find that the quiet, idyllic neighbourhood you saw during the day is a congested traffic route during peak hours, or a noisy, bustling area during the night.
3. Take your time
The average time spent viewing a property is usually 8 to 15 minutes. However, don’t make the mistake of rushing through a viewing. Spend as much as time as you need – somewhere around 20 to 30 minutes is ideal – so you can really get a feel for the place. Take a longer look at things to really spot any potential issues with the property. Research has shown that the longer you spend viewing a property, the more likely you are to secure it for under the asking price.
4. View the property more than once
Everyone’s heard the saying “third time's a charm”. The real estate market may be fast-moving, but it is better for you to see the property more than once. The more times you look at the property, the more likely you are to spot potential problems. You can also work in viewing it at different times of the day to see how the environment (especially light and noise) changes with the time of day. You might just make some discoveries that you might have missed the first time you viewed the property.
5. Take a good look at the structure of the building
It doesn’t matter if you are looking at landed properties or high-rise apartments, be sure to walk around the outside of the building to check for problems with the exterior. Keep your eyes out for signs of functional or structural problems, such as dampness or hairline cracks in the walls. Too often, these are tell-tale signs of a larger underlying issue that is not apparent without more thorough checks or structural surveys.
6. Have a discerning eye during the viewing
It’s not always a bad thing to be nosy. Especially as sellers don’t have the obligation to tell you about any problems with the property. They might even try their best to hide them from you. Look through everything closely with a fine eye and nose to see through any potential red flags cover-ups.
There are a few things that you should keep an eye out for when viewing the interior of a property. Examples: (i) Dampness: Look out for physical signs of dampness in the ceilings and walls such as water stains. Even if you don’t see any physical signs of water damage, be wary of unusual smells. You can tell if there is dampness by the musty odour. (ii) Lights, taps and water pressure: Check that all the switches to see if the electrical wiring is done right. Also check that all taps are functioning and that water pressure is acceptable (especially if it is a high-rise). (iii) Keep an eye out for cover ups: Issues with unfurnished properties are more easily examined, as there is nothing to distract your eye. However, be sure to look more closely if the property you are looking at is fully furnished. A well-placed carpet or painting may be hiding cracks in the flooring or in the wall.
7. A few heads are better than one
Bring along a relative or good friend with you when you are going to view the house. A second or third opinion is always great to have. They can look at things more objectively than you can, especially if they will not be the ones living there. They might see things that you might have missed, or have a different point of view on certain issues and highlights of the house.
8. Be prepared with a list of questions
Have a checklist with you with all the potential questions you may want to ask the agent or seller. Our minds are a tricky thing, as things will tend to slip your mind when you are preoccupied with looking through the house. Certain questions may also help you angle for a better price for the property. For example, the number of viewings can signify the current interest in the property. If they haven’t received a lot of viewings, this may mean less competition and that you will have more leeway and time to bargain for a better price.
9. Shrewdness can angle you a bargain, but friendliness can get you further
Always try your best to establish a good rapport with the seller or negotiator. You won’t lose anything by taking the extra step to be friendly and approachable. Chances are, this will help you make a good first impression with them. This might just work in your favour in the long run. Remember that a little kindness goes a long way.
10. Compare and contrast to make an informed choice
Do remember to take note of the things you like and things you don’t when you are viewing each property. It will be even better if you can make a list of pros and cons during each viewing. Naturally, what’s the point of taking your time to inspect and discern if you don’t remember your key findings after each viewing? Do this during the viewing and don’t wait till after, as our minds have a tendency to remember the good things rather than the bad. This will help you in comparing between each property you have viewed and will help you narrow down your list of choices.
Last notes to always remember:
If you are buying a property, be sure to highlight any issues and get the developer (if you are buying completed and new) or seller (if it is a sub-sale) to fix them before you put in any offers. Issues with the property that are found during viewing can help you angle for a better offer price and save you from wasting your hard-earned money.
If you are renting, you should check that everything is in perfect condition before you sign on any tenancy agreement or contract. Otherwise, you might be liable for any existing damage that you did not cause and you can potentially lose your deposit.