Country houses for sale

Dos & don’ts when viewing a property

* How many times can you view a property before you should put in an offer?

Estate agents have a saying ‘third time unlucky’, which means that once a buyer comes to view a house for the third time, they are highly unlikely to buy. So if you haven’t put in an offer after a second viewing, you are likely to find you get a much cooler reception.

* How many people can you bring with you?

Ideally, you should turn up just with your husband/wife, or a friend, for a first viewing. For a second viewing it is acceptable to bring perhaps one more person, but never more than four.

* Is it rude to take a tape measure to a first viewing?

It’s not rude, but it’s unnecessary. The estate agents’ details will include floor plans so you’ll already know the dimensions of each room. Once you’ve had an offer accepted and want to start measuring up to see if you’ll get your sofa in, then it’s fine. In fact, it’s to be encouraged as it proves to the vendor that you’re serious.

* Can I bring a camera?

It would be the height of bad manners to walk round someone’s home snapping pictures on your mobile phone. The only instance it might be acceptable is if your husband/wife is out of the country and you want them to have a look. But always ask first.

* Can making a low offer cause offence?

Yes, if it’s not handled in the right way. Always back up a low offer by saying it’s the top of the budget. Be prepared to enter into psychological warfare. If you’re offering £700,000 on an £800,000 property, you need to back it up by listing what work you’d need to do on the property and what it would cost you.

* Is there anything you really mustn’t say in front of a vendor?

The very worst thing you can do is say things like ‘well we’d have to knock that wall down’ and ‘if we filled the pond in the garden would look much better’. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is and will not warm to you if you discuss what you want to do to it.

* Is it acceptable to go round and speak to the neighbours before putting in an offer?

It’s a bit premature. It would be more usual to do this once you’ve had an offer accepted. You’re better to go and chat up the landlord of the local.

* Is there a dress code?

Best advice is not to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you’ve got loads of money and won’t negotiate.

* Is it OK to pull back curtains to look for cracks/ tap on the walls/ pull up rugs etc?

This depends on whether the vendor is there. If they are out and you are being shown round by an estate agent then a limited amount of rug-ifting and curtain-twitching is OK – but definitely, not in front of the vendor. It’s a surveyor’s job to do all these checks on your behalf once you’ve had an offer accepted.

* Should children accompany you?

Not ideal on a first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it might be acceptable to bring them on a second viewing, but if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.

Advice supplied by Tracy Kellett of property search company BDI Home Finders

Country houses for sale