Open viewings and viewings by appointment
There are essentially two types of viewing available: open viewings and viewing by appointment.
What’s the difference? Open Viewings
An open viewing simply means that the property will be available to be viewed during set times and no prior appointment is required.
The most common open viewing time is typically on a Sunday, between 2-4pm in the afternoon, but it can be on different days and at different times. Open viewings are usually advertised and you will find details on the ESPC website and also on most estate agents websites.
So, to use that typical example, what it means for you is that if a property advertises that it has an open viewing on Sunday between 2-4pm, you are able to just pop along between those hours and have a look round the property. You don’t need an appointment, you just turn up. A tip though, it is a good idea to go back onto the property portal on the Saturday just to make sure the property still has the open viewing advertised and to check that the property is still for sale and not Under Offer. If the property is marked as Under Offer then the open viewing is cancelled.
Because they are open viewings, it may be that you will not be the only buyers viewing the property at the same time. So you may be sharing your viewing with others. Some buyers don’t mind this and perhaps prefer the semi-anonymous aspect. For others it is not so good as it means they will be left to show themselves around, or not get the chance nor privacy to ask questions.
Most open viewings are done by the owners rather than the estate agents.
What can you expect at an open viewing?
As just mentioned, most open viewings are done by the sellers rather than the estate agents. Sometimes the seller will show you around or you will be allowed to just make your own way around the property. You will probably be asked to leave details of your name and contact details.
The reason for this is that usually you will receive a follow up call or email from the estate agent to ask you if you like the property and just to get some feedback. It is not compulsory to leave details but the reason is not more sinister than that.
Viewing by Appointment
As it suggests, this is where you have a particular appointment for you to visit the property for viewing. Unlike an open viewing, you will be the only person at the time, which some buyers prefer. However it is not always possible that you will be able to get the appointment for the day and time you prefer.
There will often be a compromise involved. You will almost certainly have to contact the selling agent by phone to arrange a particular appointment, so when you call it is a good idea to have a few options for your viewing day and time available.
What can you expect at the viewing?
Viewings are either done by the estate agent or the seller. When you make the viewing appointment you will usually be advised if it is going to be the agent or the seller who will be meeting you. You will usually be shown round the property by the seller or the agent and will be able to ask questions.
Can you view a property that is listed as under offer?
No. Once a property is listed as under offer, then no further viewings will be allowed. The best you can do is to contact the selling estate agent and ask that you be notified in the event that the offer falls through, but that might be weeks later and is, in any case, not common in Edinburgh.
How to get the most from your viewings
Buying a property is a huge investment for the First Time Buyer and it is fair to say that most of us make a decision to buy based solely on a single viewing of a property that lasts perhaps only 15 minutes.
So what can you do to make sure you get the most from your viewing?
Ignore the furniture and presentation
Remember that you are buying the property and that the furniture will not be included. I think we are all likely to be carried away by how beautifully a property is presented,Â but you do need to look beyond that.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
A good thing to remember is that kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to re-do and so pay attention to these rooms. If they look good and don’t look as though they will need updating or replacing, then all the better. If there is a shower then ask if you can see the shower working so that you can check water pressure. Ask if the kitchen appliances are to be included and if they are how old are they.
Size of the rooms
Looking at the photos of the property is how we make our decision on whether to go and look at a property, but we all use wide-angle lens cameras now to take our photos which can sometimes make rooms look larger. Will the bedroom be large enough for your bed and will you need a wardrobe and extra storage, or are there built-in wardrobes? Is there a storage cupboard for things like the ironing board and hoover?
Heating and water heating
Ask about the heating system and water heating system. How does it work? Has the boiler been serviced and how old is it?
Have a list of questions ready
The above are just a few things you should be considering. But there will be other things which will be important to you, so a good idea would be to have a list of questions ready to ask.
Can you take photos or a video?
Almost everyone now has a smartphone and often buyers like to take their own photos (and sometimes video) of the property as a reminder. Always ask permission before you do so.
A Second Viewing is always good idea
You will probably be viewing a number of properties and sometimes they can become blurred into one.
Although it is not always possible, it is a good idea to arrange a second viewing for the property you like.
It is perhaps worth mentioning here that usual protocol is that once you offer for a property, and that offer is accepted, you will not be allowed to go and view the property again until the purchase contract (the missives) are agreed and legally binding, which can be a matter of weeks (or in some cases a couple of days) and you complete the purchase.
The purpose of the second viewing is just to confirm your original thoughts and feelings about the property but with more focus. If the first viewing is all about the heart, then the second viewing should always be about the head.
Also, if you are not familiar about the street or area then this is also your chance to check these out. What is parking like? Does the area have the vibe you are looking for?