House hunting can mean hours of searching the property websites but after a while of viewing houses that appear nothing like you expect you need to be clever and read between the lines of the advertisements. I enjoyed this article written by Stacks about what to look out for when you're searching the internet
- Start with what’s missing! No internals means that the property may need substantial updating
- If all the lights are on, the property is probably challenged in the natural light department.
- Assume the photographer has used a wide angled lens. Check different angles of the same room for a more realistic view.
- Look at the way the external images have been cropped. If the cropping is close on one or both sides, there’s probably something there they’d rather you didn’t see. And if the front elevation shows little frontage, it’s probably right on the road. Google Earth and Google Streetview are your essential next stops to confirm the reality.
- Don’t discount ugly property – if an unattractive property meets all your requirements apart from beauty, give it a chance and go and have a look. Of all the things to compromise on, it’s one of the least important. There’s a strong chance that that you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and even if not, there are many ways of improving the appearance of the exterior.
- Beware association with a prized location – the words ‘near’ or ‘close to’ are often used to raise the game of a property that isn’t necessarily very well located. Always go to the map to establish exactly where a property is located.
- ‘Newly developed’ or ‘newly refurbished’ isn’t a guarantee of quality. Look carefully and pickily at the pictures to give you an idea of how well the work has been done, paying particular attention to windows, flooring, kitchens and bathrooms. These will give you a good idea of the standard to which the work has been carried out.
- Generally, bear in mind that ‘pretty garden’ means it’s not substantial.
- If the description says ‘around ½ acre’, it might be much less. If you’re buying a property with ground, it’s sensible to ask the agent for a land plan or a Promap.
Sally Fraser says, “The element of the property brochure that often holds the most information is the floor plan. From it you can see whether the layout works for you in its current form, whether it has the potential to be improved or adapted, and how it interacts with the outside space. Pay attention to windows and doors, and restricted head heights.