Buying an investment property as a buy-to-let can be exciting and daunting, especially if you are looking for your first investment.
There are many things to consider when choosing whether or not to buy a particular property, and you always want to make sure you’re making the right choice. An investment property viewing checklist in your pocket will help you make the right decisions.
In this article, I will provide a free checklist for viewing investment properties, which you can print and use whenever you view a house or apartment.
l will also discuss the importance of using a checklist when you view the property as a potential buy-to-let.
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Viewing properties can be exciting. But it is very easy to be caught in the moment and be in awe of your potential purchase. It is important to remember that you are shopping for a business and not a home.
You need to work with your mind and gut, not your heart. If you walk in and fall in love with the property, I suggest you walk out and move on to the next one.
The Benefits of Using a Property Viewing Checklist
There are many benefits to using a checklist when you’re viewing investment properties.
First, a checklist can help you ensure that you are looking at all of the crucial details when evaluating an investment property. It can also help you avoid mistakes and save time searching for the right property.
Second, a checklist can also help you stay organised during your visit. Having a list of specific questions you will check when viewing a property will make you more likely to find the right one quickly and with minimal hassle.
I have viewed 9 properties in a single day, and it can be hard to remember each property’s details when you get back home. To help me, I take plenty of photos with my mobile phone, and I carry a checklist to tick the items and make notes as I walk around for reference later.
What to Check for When Viewing a Property
When inspecting a property as a potential purchase, there are a few things to look for. The most important is to ensure the property meets your specific needs and requirements regarding location and facilities. You will be ready if you have done your homework and research correctly!
You then need to check the quality and condition of the property to ensure it will appeal to prospective tenants once you have purchased it.
If any renovation works are required, you will need to consider whether you are willing to take them on, and if so, consider adjusting your offer accordingly to absorb the costs if the asking price doesn’t already reflect that.
Please feel free to download my checklist for viewing investment properties. It is perfect for regular house viewings, to. This checklist will help anyone looking to buy a property.
Here is a list of things to check when first viewing a house or an apartment. It is not a definitive list, and you may think of additional items to add. But here is an explanation of all the things that I check before deciding whether to make an offer:
A well-maintained roof can add years to the life of a property. A damaged roof can lead to water damage, structural instability, and other problems. A poorly maintained roof can also increase the property’s energy bills.
Move as far away from the property as possible to help get a better view. Crossing the road and standing opposite the property is sufficient to get a clear view of the entire roof at the front. And don’t forget to check the back. Standing at the bottom of the back garden is usually enough to see the whole roof at the back.
Check that the roof is level, that there aren’t any tiles missing, and that the flashings, fascias and soffits are secure and in good condition.
Furthermore, check that the guttering is complete and secured to the property and that the drains are clear.
Walls provide insulation and structural support, which can impact the value of a property. A well-maintained wall can also increase the attractiveness of a property to potential tenants and buyers.
Ensure that the external walls are not bowed, as this will be a sign that the property has severe structural damage.
Check that the pointing is in good condition, as damaged pointing can lead to water penetration.
Furthermore, look for any signs of dampness or rot on the brickwork, indicating that the walls are in poor condition.
Do all doors, including internal doors, close correctly? If not, it could be a sign of structural movement that must be addressed and could be expensive to fix. In addition, if the doors are damaged, it could mean that someone has tried to break into the property or that there are security issues.
Internal doors are not expensive to replace if the current ones are worn or damaged. But external doors cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds. So, it’s essential to ensure that they close correctly and that the locks work and are in good condition before you make an offer.
4. Cracks in the Walls
Check all rooms and hallways for cracks. It’s essential to check for cracks in the walls because they may signal that the structure requires repair.
Cracks can also indicate water infiltration, which could lead to mould and other health hazards. By inspecting the walls for signs of damage, you can ensure that your investment is in good condition and ready to be rented out.
If you can fit the side of a 10p piece into the crack, there could be a structural problem requiring further investigation.
Look behind the furniture, too. A well-placed wardrobe can hide many issues!
Is there central heating, and does the boiler and all the radiators appear in good condition? A new heating system will cost £3,000 or more, depending on the property size.
Locate the thermostat and turn it up. Then go back to the boiler and check that it has turned on.
The boiler is essential to any home, providing heat and hot water. Therefore, ensuring it is in good working condition is vital. A malfunctioning or outdated boiler can result in costly repairs or even complete replacement, which can be a significant financial burden.
Secondly, checking the boiler can give you insights into the overall maintenance and care of the property. A well-maintained boiler often indicates that the previous owners have also taken good care of other aspects of the house.
On the other hand, if you find issues with the boiler during your inspection, it may indicate that additional hidden problems need attention.
Checking the boiler gives you negotiating power. If you discover any issues with the boiler during your inspection, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price or request repairs before finalising the purchase.
This way, you can avoid unexpected expenses and ensure everything functions properly from day one.
So don’t overlook this critical step when buying a house. Inspecting the boiler could save you time, money, and stress down the line.
Do the fuse box (consumer unit) and sockets look old, or are they modern and in good condition? You will require an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) before you can let the property. So it is worth checking whether the property already has one and, if so when it is due to expire.
If the property does not have an EICR, and the consumer unit and sockets look old, there is a chance that the property will need replacement fittings or even a complete rewiring.
Windows provide natural light and ventilation to a property. Ensure all windows are in good condition. Look for any signs of water damage, broken panes or draughts. Furthermore, ensure the frames and sash are in good condition, and the glass is intact.
Are the windows double-glazed? Double glazing helps to insulate the property and keep energy prices low. Open and close the windows to check they function correctly, as they can also be expensive to replace. And be sure to add notes if the property is only part double-glazed.
Windows is one of the most common areas for intrusions, so take the time to ensure that all windows can be adequately secured.
Does any part of the floor creek or feel bouncy? If so, it would be worth inspecting further. It could mean that there are structural issues with the floor, which would require repairs.
If the floors feel solid, check the condition of the carpets, tiles, laminate, lino or vinyl to assess whether they need replacing before you can market the property for let.
There are many types of damp, and only a specialist can tell you the cause and cure. But it’s important to check everywhere for any signs of damp. If the property is furnished, it’s a good idea to look behind the furniture and check the ceilings, not just the walls.
If there is any sign of water damage, this could be an indication that the roof or walls are leaking and can lead to extensive damage inside the property.
In addition, if there are signs of mould or fungus growing, it could mean that the property is not airtight, which can cause health problems.
10. Adding Value
Seeking to add value is what sets successful investors apart from the rest.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be something you would do from the start. Still, if you identify the possibility of adding another bedroom or reception room, extending the kitchen or converting the loft, you could increase your cash flow and value.
It’s also worth checking if other people on the street have added extensions, as they will have set a precedence.
Adding value can be as simple as redecorating and replacing the flooring if the property looks dated.
11. Furniture and Appliances
Are electrical goods included in the sale, and what condition are they in?
For example, if there is a built-in oven or fridge freezer, are they in good working order?
Has the vendor even considered including appliances or furniture items in the sale?
If there are items in the property that you would be interested in owning, it is worth asking the question, and it would save the vendor money and effort in removing the items themselves.
Is the property already tenanted?
If so, what type of tenancy agreement is in place? What is the income, and how long is left on the contract?
The tenancy agreement holds valuable information that could impact your plans for the property. It outlines the terms and conditions of the current tenancy and sheds light on any restrictions or obligations you may inherit as the new landlord.
13. Questions to Ask the Estate Agent
Here are some important questions to ask when viewing an investment property with an estate agent. If you have done your research, you will already know the answers to some of these questions, but it is worth confirming your homework while you are with them.
1. What is the current rental demand like in this area?
It will give you an idea of how easy it will be to find tenants. Ask for specific numbers on vacancy rates.
2. What types of tenants usually rent in this area?
Are they families, students or young professionals? It will help you understand who your likely tenants will be.
3. What is the average rental income for similar properties in this area?
The answer will help you estimate your potential rental income.
4. Are any new property developments or other changes happening in the area that could affect rental demand?
You want to know if the area is increasing or decreasing in popularity.
5. How quickly do properties tend to sell or rent in this area?
Faster turnover means you’re less likely to have extended vacancies between tenants.
6. What is the average length of a tenancy agreement in this area?
Longer tenancy agreements mean fewer turnovers per year.
7. What amenities like public transportation, schools, and shopping are nearby?
Good amenities and transport links in the local area can make a property more desirable.
8. Does this property require any repairs or upgrades to make it more rentable?
Factor any costs into your investment calculations.
You Are Ready to Start House Hunting
Following this checklist, you can check out potential investment properties like a pro and maximise your opportunity.
Depending on how deep you want to go, the list could go on. But checking these details first and asking the right questions will help you purchase an investment with peace of mind and reduce the risk of any major hidden surprises later on.
Please let me know if you want something else added to the list. I will be more than happy to update it for everyone’s benefit.