For most people in the UK, a house is the single biggest purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. Despite the size of the purchase, studies show we’re likely to spend more time selecting the next pair of jeans we’ll buy than the house we’ll spend years in.

Whether we don’t want to miss out, don’t want to be seen as fussy or even want to avoid inconveniencing others, not taking time to truly understand what we’re buying can have enormous repercussions.

We’ll walk you through how to make sure you’re 100% about the house you’re looking at before you make an offer you might come to regret.

Try to be objective when viewing

Buying a house is an emotional purchase – but if you can try to look with your head instead of your heart, at least initially, then you’re far more likely to make a good decision.

When you’re viewing a house, try to put aside thoughts of furniture or picturing yourself there until you’ve looked at the property from a structural point of view. It doesn’t harm to consider the first visit a ‘fault finding’ inspection.

That’s not to say you should put yourself off, instead, this fact-finding exercise gives you the power to go away, do some research into potential repair costs and go back with a fully informed offer.

View more than once

No matter how objective we try to be, there’s always a chance that something will appeal to us and we’ll take our eye off the ‘objective’ ball.

The very best way to make sure you’ve got your eyes open is to view the property multiple times – at least twice, but ideally three or four times. You’re far more likely to spot issues doing this – and what’s more, those questions you forgot to ask first time will be priorities next visit.

Check the area

The importance of checking the local area cannot be underestimated. There are the obvious factors that most people consider – school catchment areas, local amenities and transport links, but what about those less obvious factors?

Take time to research the following:

  • Flooding – You don’t have to be on a riverbank to flood, talk to local people and businesses about water levels locally.
  • Crime – The police publish statistics on crime in every area, check these online to make sure you’re comfortable with what’s happening near the house.
  • Planning – Is there anything planned locally that will impact your home? The possibilities range from parks and conservation areas to by-passes and runways, so be careful.

Visit during key times

Estate agents and most home report surveyors in Glasgow are very good at what they do – which means they’re extremely unlikely to show you a house when the local area is in a flurry of noisy activity. There are some key time to observe the property – and you don’t necessarily have to be inside to get a good impression of what’s happening.

What’s the area like at 8:45am when children are being dropped off for school? Is the property on any paths between pubs or bars that get rowdy at 11:30pm on Saturday nights? There are lots of possibilities – and asking neighbours can help too.

Spend time looking

We’re a polite bunch – but don’t be put under pressure to cut your viewing short.

Make your intentions known from the outset, letting people know you plan to spend 30 minutes or so means they’ll diary accordingly. Statistics show that you’re far more likely to secure a below-asking-price figure if you’re willing to commit to a decent amount time looking.

Tap on walls

You don’t have to be a DIY expert to know what damp plaster sounds like in a house – there are plenty of videos online that will show you how to find any damp that’s there. Get tapping and listen for the dull sounds that indicate water coming in.

You might be impressed by freshly decorated rooms – but don’t discount the fact that new paint might be there to hide wet patches and stains that indicate water in the property.

Look for moss and mould

Moss and mould love to lurk in places that stay dull and damp – so if you see them, even on the outside of the property or on patios and paths – there’s good reason to thoroughly inspect the walls that are nearby.

View with your nose

Even if you can’t see it, damp in a property has a distinct smell – so a keen nose can find what paint and fresh plaster can sometimes hide.

Cupboards, loft spaces, basements and cellars are all prime places to do some sniffing – and beware the scented candle, it’s often a coverup for what’s really happening…

Turn the lights out

Estate agents and vendors know that putting the lights on can give the impression of a sunny and spacious feeling room – so shut them off for a true impression of how much light the room gets.

Talk about fixtures and fittings

When you move into the property and find that the integral appliances or period fireplace has disappeared, it’s too late to go back and double check who’s taking what.

Be very clear about what’s staying and what’s going – take a note pad and pen and record it at the time of the viewing – before referencing back should you progress to making an offer. The fixtures and fittings can make a room – and they’re unlikely to be cheap.

Measure

If you’re planning on moving your current furniture in to a new house then making sure it fits is an obvious – but often overlooked – part of the viewing process. Take a tape measure and check floorspace, as well as the doors and openings it’s going to need to fit through.

Scrutinise land access

There’s often more to a house than just the bricks and mortar – so a clear understanding of the land included can be vital. Understanding boundaries and access to the surrounding property can save a lot of heartache further down the line.

Talk about parking

Parking is becoming a more and more significant part of home ownership – so don’t overlook it.

It’s not uncommon for houses to have two or more cars – and where parking is at a premium, space on the street might be hard to find. Understanding parking outside the property is important – do you need a permit? Will you need to pay? Does the street fill up at key times?

You might be able to park nearby when you view – but a 15-minute walk to your car in the rain every morning after you’ve moved in is likely to take the shine of your new home!