House Viewing Checklist Part 2: Check out the surrounding area

4 min read
STAGE 2 of our house viewing checklist looks at the importance of checking out the local area of a property, walking around it, you are going to view before you actually go for the viewing itself.

You can find out many things that will give you a feel for the area and help you decide whether you want to live in it. You should be prepared to spend at least half an hour doing this each time you visit.

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Find out how busy, noisy or polluted the area is

Pollution in some urban areas in the UK is at an all-time high and this is particularly so in London.

Marylebone Road in air quality terms is among the most polluted areas on the planet, according to some experts.

This factor becomes even more important if you have, or are intending to have children: they are more likely to develop asthma and allergies, among other ailments, in these areas.

Road traffic also causes noise pollution which can seriously detract from your enjoyment of a property. This is particularly the case if it continues into the night, when you're trying to get some sleep and this is why it's worth visiting the area at different times of day.

Other forms of pollution may also be less obvious on a brief visit but become clearer if you walk around an area. There may be strong odours or noises in relation to industrial areas nearby, for example.

Find out what parking is like

If you are a car driver or motorcyclist, you will naturally prefer to be able to park your vehicle at or near your property at times of your choosing and in a safe place.

The number of cars on the road now means that parking is restricted in many places. If you are not buying a garage or dedicated off-road parking with your property, you may have to get a special permit for parking and pay for the privilege. Sometimes even this might not be available, leaving you having to park wherever is free, even if it's nowhere near your property and is not a regular slot.

If this is a serious issue for you, you should find out as much as you can about parking as soon as possible. The best clues are to be found by walking around.

Find out about shops and local amenities, where the local train station is, etc.

Graphic says you may have to pay for a parking permit if you're not buying a garage or dedicated off-road parking with your property
In Part I of this series, we recommended that you research shops, local amenities and transport links using the internet. By following this research up with a walk around to see exactly how far you have to walk or travel to places and what shops and amenities are actually like in reality, you can only help your final decision about whether to pursue buying a property.

Shops can close (and open) and other changes can happen before the internet catches up. You can also get more of a feel for the atmosphere of an area.

See if your property's boundaries are clearly defined, if a garden is shared, etc.

Moving onto the property itself, you can get plenty of information about it by checking around its boundaries, wherever possible. Ideally, your property's boundaries should be clearly defined but where they are not, there may be potential legal and other threats. If you do not have exclusive use of an area such as a garden, you may have no control over who uses it and when.

'Everybody needs good neighbours...'

However you do it, it's worth getting as much of an impression as you can about how your neighbours are. If you are looking around the outside of a property and you hear very loud music from next door and this happens when you visit another time of day on another day, this is likely to affect your judgement!

Whatever your preferences are, there's no substitute for investigating yourself before you view a property.

Speak to people living in an area to gauge their views on it

By doing things like checking out local shops, amenities and parks etc., you give yourself lots of opportunities to talk to people who live in the area. You might then get some relevant local information: there may, for example, be either a bonus or a threat coming to the area. More knowledge is always better than less!

Tomorrow, Part 3 of our House Viewing Checklist series examines what information you can get from an external inspection of a property.

If you have any questions about any aspect of house viewing, please call one of our experts on 0333 344 3234 or email us at

*Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – On all Mortgage Lender Panels

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