Top tips for first-time buyers in London on viewing day

It's no secret that purchasing a property for the first time can be daunting. Despite this, one of the more exciting aspects that buyers can look forward to is viewing a property.
It's important to know what to look out for in a property before putting in an offer but luckily for you, advice is never too far away.
Around 2,000 experienced homebuyers across Britain were asked by First Direct about what advice they would give to a first-time buyer when viewing a property. Using these results as a base, we at Roy Brooks have compiled a top list of things to look out for on viewing day.
1. Ask to see the boiler
Many properties on the market may appear to be in top condition, but you can never be too cautious as a viewer. One in four buyers surveyed said they regretted not checking the condition of the property's boiler or its servicing history. Failing to check the boiler could be financially taxing in the long run, as installing a new boiler system could cost £2,000 or more.
2. Visit at different times of the day
The area may appear peaceful when viewing in the early afternoon, but 42% of homeowners believe that checking the street and surrounding neighbourhood at different times is crucial. This will give you a general feel of what a full day is like in the area. Visiting during school drop-off and pick-up times, and in the evening rush hour, may reveal just how quiet - or busy - the neighbourhood actually is.
3. Check the central heating system
Whether you're viewing a property in the middle of a stifling summer, or a numbing winter, the central heating system should be thoroughly inspected. You will need to ensure the radiators are working properly, so don't be afraid to ask to switch them on and see how long it takes before they start to heat up. Some 49% of homeowners admitted they didn't do this during a viewing.
4. Inspect the condition of the roof
The inside of a property will take up most of your energy, but details of the exterior should not be ignored, particularly the roof. Everyday exposure to the unpredictable British weather - and other wear and tear - slowly ages the roof. One broken tile or the odd chip could result in a leakage in the property. Just over half (51%) of respondents admitted they didn't check the roof before buying a home.
5. Don't rush into an offer
It's important to take as much time as you need before submitting an offer. Some 48% of homebuyers warned that you should do your homework and weigh up the pros and cons before making a final decision. Viewing more than one property before deciding on your ideal home is commonplace, although some buyers come to a decision much quicker, with one in three (30%) respondents buying their last home after just one viewing.
6. Check exterior and interior walls
The outside of a property is just as important as the inside. That's why it's best to check the exterior walls for any cracks, as this could be a sign of subsidence or structural issues. Alongside this, inspecting the interior walls for watermarks could uncover damp or mould. At least 27% of homeowners under 35 wish they had followed this advice when buying their property.
7. Get quotes for building works before buying
Movers are at risk of incurring additional costs after moving in. In fact, 64% of participants told researchers that unforeseen repairs, expensive renovation and botched DIY jobs by previous owners cost them after purchasing. Prevention is always better than cure, so it's useful to get a quote from a professional on any possible jobs you're thinking of getting done.
8. Check electrical systems
Checking things like sockets, wiring, circuit breakers, switches and the fuse board is a practice that 36% of homeowners wish they had done before buying their home. Just four out of ten bothered to inspect sockets and switches. If you're ever in doubt, you can ask an electrician to check for you.
9. Check broadband speed
Who can live without the internet these days? At least half of homeowners surveyed (47%) didn't have broadband speed in mind when viewing a property, and 31% said they wish they had checked. Take the time to find out the typical speed for the area and what type of broadband is installed. Fortunately, many south London areas have reliable broadband speeds.
10. Get an independent opinion
The overall excitement of viewing a property could potentially skew your judgement. However, bringing someone along who can point out any flaws could safeguard you from making the wrong decision. Just 67% of homebuyers took someone else to at least one viewing. Having someone experienced with you to give the harsh truth and ask difficult questions will help to take a load off your shoulders.
At Roy Brooks, we operate in East Dulwich and surrounding areas, including Brixton, Sydenham and Brockley.
For more information about buying a home in South London, please contact us on 020 8299 3021.
We also offer a free instant online valuation so you can see how much your property could be worth on the current market.