Buying a house – what to ask/ do during the viewing process

Quick note: this is not my furniture or how my lounge looks. Not that it matters, just wanted to point it out.

So, you’ve done you research (see the first post of this mini-series to find out more about that side of things) you’ve seen some places you like and you’re ready to go out and see them in person. But…what are you supposed to do when you’re there besides look?

Buying property is a huge commitment, so you want to make sure you get it right, and that’s where I can help. I’ve viewed so many houses over my adult life, more than half of them within the last couple of years so my experiences are pretty current as well as long standing. Learning from my family, friends and a few industry professionals I believe I’ve honed my line of questioning, so now I’m sharing what I’ve learned below.

This post will take a little while to read, but if you’re thinking of buying a property soon it’s totally worth it!

Before you view

When you call (if this is not an online agency) to book a viewing, ask:

– For an idea of the seller’s situation (i.e. Have they found a new house, are they in a hurry to sell, is the house vacant) and clearly communicate yours to them.

If you’re a first time buyer with a decision/agreement in principle or have sold your house and are in strong position to move make sure this is known, as the agent will communicate this to the seller which lets them know you’re a reliable and serious viewer.

– Who is showing you the house and their name

It’s good to have a name so you can start off by building a good rapport (this can be useful as if you end up in any kind of bidding war, the fact that they warm to you *may* help sway things in your favour). It will also give you an idea of whether it’s the homeowner or a representative of the agent showing you around; if it’s the latter you will need to ask the next question.

– If they can answer all questions you may have about the property themselves

If it’s not people who live in the property showing you round (they may have passed away, or simply have asked the agents to help because they’re at work) then it’s likely that whoever is present at the viewing will just be letting you in the house to look around and won’t have a great deal of knowledge to answer questions on the spot. If they’re a good agency they will have prepared some of the key points but other things they will probably have to ask and get back to you about. If you know this in advance, you may be able to have the agency get some of the information from the seller before your viewing which will save time later.

During the viewing

First things first – get your game faces on. Be prepared to be pleasant but try to keep a poker face – you don’t want to appear too keen if you love the house as this will leave you with no bargaining power if you make an offer later, however you don’t want to appear rude as this is somebody’s home and very important to them.

These are what I would deem are the core questions you should ask as you move throughout the home, just ask as part of a natural conversation. The person showing you around will be expecting you to ask a lot of questions so don’t hold back!

– How long have you lived here?

If it’s a long time, good sign. If it’s not, that’s not the worst, but it makes the following question more important.

– Why are you wanting to move?

If the agency have given any indication already this will help confirm this. Usually it’s a very legitimate reason e.g. To be closer to work, need a bigger/smaller house, and you can usually tell if they’re not being honest with you. If you don’t feel they are you’re definitely entitled to press a little, but don’t push too hard.

– What’s is the average cost of utilities/bills?

As well as your mortgage payments, this gives you an idea of how much your total outlay may be. I’ve quite often phrased this as “apart from the mortgage, how much does the house usually cost to run every month?”

– What council tax band is the house in?

I would follow this up with how much does that cost every month if they don’t tell you. If the house is occupied by 1 adult and you’re buying as a couple yours will cost 25% more per month than this, or 25% less if a couple is currently living there and you’ll be living alone. A lot of people also don’t know that you have the option to pay your council tax bill over 12 months (the traditional amount is 10) so there are opportunities to save a bit on the monthly outlay of this one.

– What is the broadband signal like in the house?

VERY important – one of the houses we previously owned was in a “blackspot” and the connection was terrible and patchy (yet we had to pay the same amount, ugh.) which then also affected our satellite TV as that also relied on this.

– What is mobile phone reception like in the house?

Again, VERY important – the house we live in now is a bit of dodgy area for the EE network which led to us changing to O2. You can easily see on your own phone what the reception/connectivity is like, and ask the sellers what network they’re on or if there are any areas on their property that aren’t as good for signal.

– The age of windows/doors/ conservatory/flat roof – how long ago where they fitted?

I’ve come to notice that the ‘general’ age for big items like this to perform well before they require repair or replacement is about 10-15 years. This isn’t an exact science but double glazing usually has a 10yr guarantee against it which is a fair indication. If the weather is bad (wet, windy, snowy) when you view you’ll probably be able to see/feel any droughts or leaks. Some of these problems can be put right for a few hundred pounds, others can be a few thousand, butnif you know what you’re dealing with you can decide if you feel the house is worth it.

– Where is the boiler, how old is it and when was it last serviced? How regularly has been serviced whilst you’ve lived here?

An old boiler isn’t necessarily a bad thing (in my last house it was about 30yrs old) if you’re also told it’s been serviced at least once per year whilst the seller has lived there. If it’s fairly new and has been serviced every year, even better. If you wanted to go one further you could ask the make of the boiler (you may have a savvy relative or want to google the company afterwards) if the seller currently has a boiler cover and the cost to allow for this in your monthly bills.

– Do you have solar panels or loft/cavity wall insulation – when were they fitted and how effective are they now?

The second part of the question could probably only be answered if the sellers had these things installed whilst they lived in the property, if not they will probably only be able to comment on how effective they find them in general (i.e. Does the house get and stay warm)

– What can you tell me about the neighbours?

Much better than “are the neighbour’s nice?” In this day and age people may not know the neighbours more than to say hello to, but if there’s been any kind of acrimony or negativity you are giving them the opportunity to tell you (there’s potential legal recourse if they fail to disclose a serious problem, as it may affect whether you choose to buy the house or not). You’ll generally find most people will be quite vague “we don’t see them much but everyone seems nice” which is the answer you should hope for.

– What’s parking like down the street?

This is becoming such a hot button issue as many houses have at least 2 cars, sometimes more if older children live at home or visit often. Not everyone likes to park in garages or on drives as they’re lazy, but this obviously takes up valuable space and determines how easy the area is to drive and manoeuvre around. If the property has a shared Drive, ask what kind of arrangement are currently in place between the seller and neighbour for right of way etc.

Top tip: whatever answers you’re given, do a couple of drive-bys at different times/days in the week so you can see for yourself (evenings, weekends and early mornings are key times)

– What are local transport links like?

Also see if they can tell you the name/number of the local services so you can look the timetables up afterwards, how far away the nearest bus/tram stop or station are, and if they know how reliable these are.

– Is there anything else we haven’t asked that you feel would be useful to mention?

If you’ve asked all of the above and anything else that’s popped into your head as you’ve walked around, there probably isn’t, but it may trigger a memory of questions that other potential buyers have asked the seller.

– What is your favourite thing about living here, and what do you like the least about living here?

This one is a curve ball and generally not a regular thing most people would ask, however the hubby and I viewed so many properties this time around that we added it in to wring every last bit of honesty out of the seller. They won’t be expecting the question so won’t have had any time to pre-prepare an answer, meaning you’ll get a response that’s more honest or more telling. We found this very useful indeed.

After viewing

As you’re leaving a viewing, thank the seller for showing you their home and tell them at you will be in touch with your feedback shortly. This doesn’t indicate you love or hate it, but simply that you’ll let the agent know either way what you thought and how you’d like to move forward.

If the agent is getting information about the property from the sellers, be sure to chase this up after a couple of days if you haven’t heard anything.

A good agency will call or e-mail a day or two after your viewing to ask what you thought of the property, if you have any questions and if you would like them to book a second viewing or pass along an offer on your behalf. With these conversations I find it best to be honest and clear – if you didn’t like the house, say this and explain the reasons why if possible as this will help the agency manage things and stop them chasing you about it. If you’re genuinely in the fence, tell them this as well and they may be able to help with this, either by booking a follow up viewing for you to have another look and make up your mind or trying to find out why to see if they help you work through this.

And that is basically it in a nutshell – it’s a pretty large nutshell but it’s all here!

If you’re able to ask all of these questions during a viewing you’ll get a pretty complete picture of the property you’re interested in. It’s not an exhaustive list; every property is different and some may require a bit more fact finding than others, but it’ll put you more in control of the process and let the seller know this.

I’m planning one more post as part of this series that covers the last part of the process (the part people usually get the most stressed over) from offer to completion.

Happy house hunting!

J xx

LIFESTYLE / Buying a house – getting started

Welcome to my new mini series!

I’m going to start by saying this post is going to be long and definitely more on ‘functional’ side of things you’re likely to read in the blogosphere, however it may also help you immensely when taking those first tentative steps in to a house that you’re considering turning in to your home. It’s a huge commitment!

I decided to write this for a couple of reasons – firstly, because I’ve seen more than a few posts on social media lately from people looking to get their foot on the property ladder and buy their first home, secondly because searching for a new property consumed a large chunk of my life for a good 18 months between last year and the year before sorts something I feel equipped to talk to people about.

I’m by no means a property expert – I’ve bought and sold three houses over the past 13 years and viewed legit close to 100 properties of varying size/price point/ seller in a variety of different financial markets so I’m comfortable in saying I believe I have a good deal of experience. I also spent three years working as a mortgage and insurance adviser, so I have experience from a slightly alternative prospective there too.

Before you start to look

First things first: you need to know how much you’ll be able to borrow. There’s no point in looking for houses you can afford, right?

You’ve got a couple of different options for doing this – speak to a mortgage advisor (face to face or on the phone) or do some research online. Even though I used to work in the business and done this both ways in the past, I’d probably lean towards going, at least in the first instance.

Mortgage calculator tools have significantly developed to provide more and more accurate information, and many times mortgage advisors will use something similar to provide the information you’re looking for.

Internet research can be done at any time of day so you can fit it around work/family/social life easily, and you can look up as much as you want for as long as you want without being constrained to a set appointment time.

I’d suggest starting with your own bank/building society’s website first; they may be able to offer a better deal to you as an existing customer (for example, I get cashback into my current account every month at a higher rate because I have my mortgage there too). Comparison sites are also a really good resource as they have access to a large portion of mortgage providers in the UK, including special deals for first time buyers or larger deposits etc.

One key document you should look to get at the end of this process is an Agreement in Principle (sometimes called a Decision in Principle). This is official confirmation from a mortgage provider that they would be happy to lend you the funds you need, subject to supporting documentation (e.g. Payslips) and valuation of the property. When you starting making appointments to viewing houses, saying you have an AIP shows you’re a serious buyer who can afford the property you’re like to look at. Most of the time now you can get an AIP without having to go through a credit check; this is better as too many credit checks in a short space of time can actually lower your overall borrowing limits when you’re ready to go ahead. For this reason it’s better to do just one before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage, even if you decide not to use this company to go ahead.

Key piece of boring adult advice here: tell the truth and MENTION EVERY SINGLE THING – if you have credit card balances, loans or bad credit these could affect what kind of amount you can borrow, it’s better to know exactly where you stand from the jump than waste time on a situation that end up not being able to move forward.

Let the house hunt begin…

Now you know what you can afford, you can start looking for your dream home, eek! There are three main ways to do this:

– Online

Back online you go, same reasons as before – you can look whenever you want and for as long as you want and change parameters of your search. Sites like Rightmove or Zoopla are good because they have almost all estate agencies registered with them and can show all of the houses for sale within your price range (with possibly the odd exception).

Some sites have a function that shows you average house prices in a certain postcode area/street too, so you can get an idea of property prices for the areas your interested in living in.

When clicking on individual property information, pay close attention to two areas:

1. Listing history. This tells you the date the property was put up for sale, if you can see how long it’s been on the market for you’ll be able to get some idea of the level of interest other buyers have shown and therefore what room there is for negotiating on the asking price. If a house has been on the market for a while the sellers may be more open to a deal, if it’s new to market that’s when they usually attract the most attention and sellers aren’t usually as open to this.

2. Properties sold nearby. This tells you the date and value houses on the same street have sold for. This gives you an exact picture of what properties down the street are selling for and therefore what you’ll need to pay to live there. Remember though; some streets have several different style of house, so try and check that the property is similar before comparing.

– Drive bys

You probably have an idea of the area/s or event streets you’re interested in living in, so simply jumping in the car or taking a walk there and looking out for ‘For Sale’ signs could narrow the search pretty easily. Plus, you get to see the area as people are living in it – types of people, parking, local amenities – which will help confirm that it feels like it could make a nice place to live.

– Register with estate agencies

Estate agents typically have mailing lists that will send out an e-mail every time they list a new property that matches your basic criteria (usually area and price) which are worth signing up to alongside the above two options. Some of the more attentive / organised agencies are also happy to give you a call with this information as soon as they take on a new property if you ask them to.

In the next instalment of my ‘Buying a House’ series, I’ll be talking about the next stage of the process – viewing houses. This will include valuable questions to ask and why, as well as things to think about whilst you’re viewing.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

BEAUTY / How I make make my lips…

Since I have made a commitment this year to be more thoughtful about my fashion and beauty spending, I thought I would do a series sharing the beauty items I reach for most for each part of the face and body.

I’m kicking things off lips – I like to chat so, ya know, makes sense!

…look nicer for everyday: Urban Decay Vice Cream lipstick in Naked.

I’m stopping short of saying this is “my lips but better” as this shade is a bit more pinky than my lips are, but I’d say it definitely helps them a bit more alive and healthy if that’s even a thing?

The formula is really comfortable but a little bit sheer so it kind of mixes with the natural colour and generally makes them look a bit more appealing.

…feel sultry.

I have a couple of different options for this, depending on whether I’m feeling a goody vibe or some colour (which usually depends on what I’m wearing.

Option 1: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow.

This stuff is Gloss to the next level, definitely worth the money if you were just buying one to use all the time. The shimmery particles reflect the light so nicely and make lips look fuller and poutier yet still fairly natural as there’s not a lot of colour.

Option 2: MAC Lip Duo in Chilli/Chicory

This is a fairly new discovery of mine and I’d probably say this is the perfect red for me. It has a slight brown undertone and is just a little bit deeper which seems to work really well.

I’ve tried the infamous Ruby Woo previous which I really like but can sometimes feel a bit too bright and orange toned for my skin.

…red for days: NYX Liquid Suede in Kitten Heels

Step aside Snow White; if I want a true red that has immense staying power, this is the one I have reached for most over the past few years. I know I’ve just named my perfect red above, but this one is for when you’re not coming to play! Controversial opinion – I much prefer the formula of the Liquid Suede to the soft matte lip cream by NYX, it’s applies easier due to the thinner consistency and you can always get it out of the tube, occasionally with the cream you’re having to kind of scrape around to pick it up not applicator.

I hope this has given you inspiration to dive back in to your own beauty collection and re-discover some faves, or some recommendations to test this year.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

FASHION / The love of leopard print ain’t going anywhere!

Picture the scene: you see one of your fave influencers online in the summer wearing the sassiest of jumpsuits, but it’s sold out everywhere.

You wait for weeks until it comes back into stock, but not in your size. Then suddenly, just as the cold weather hits, it makes a triumphant return to a full range of sizes in stock. Hurrah!

But wait, there’s a problem: it’s now approaching the chilly winter months and it’s a spaghetti strap jumpsuit. Whaddaya do?

Stick a roll neck next underneath and call it even! Jacket, ASOS / Jumpsuit, New Look (sold out – see below for similar) / Roll neck, New Look / Boots, EGO

I’m glad a preserved because it’s something I now adore and have worn a few times and felt awesome as well as received a lot of lovely comments on.

Th material is really lightweight and allows for really easy movement, I totally dig how super swishy the culottes bottoms of this are! I’d usually have cinched the waist section in a little bit using a belt, but on this particular day I was running around quite a lot and it felt easier to leave it.

I can definitely see why red (or non- traditional coloured) leopard print is having a moment – the print itself has now become a staple in a lot of people’s wardrobes, and the pop of colour underneath allows for just a little bit more experimentation with something a bit more ‘safe’ to back it up. Aside from red, I’d say purple and lilac are also ones to watch as we go in to spring/summer for a lighter approach.

As you can imagine, it’s flown out of the stock again, it the good news is that there are some amazing red leopard print pieces on the high street that will make super sassy alternatives – MissiLondon , ASOS, Boohoo and New Look have some similar options.

Have you ever desperately stalked a clothing item, and was it worth you while when you managed to get you hands on it?

Thanks for reading,

J xx

FASHION/ Weekly fashion faves, 8

Even though the sparkle of the festive season is well and truly over, I thought I’d keep a bit of glitter alive in this week’s header…glamour is for life, not just for Christmas dontcha know!

There have been a few cheeky outfits that caught my eye this past week, but these three were the ones that stood out most…

Vicky Pattison

Dress, House of CB

Yes Vicky pet! I ADORE this colour and the cut of the dress makemit one of those pieces you could keep in your wardrobe for years and pop out whenever you have an event that you want to feel sassy and special in. I feel like we all need that kinda frock in our lives.

Lily Melrose (image: @llymlrs) Hat, Topshop / Jumper, Boohoo /Skirt, Motel Rocks / Boots, similar here

One of my faves has had a super strong start to the year in the fashion front! The simple colour print mixed with the different textures and print are exactly what I’m about at the moment, I love experimenting with making leopard print more understated and also in place of a kind of colour pop I guess (or sometimes with, leopard print and a red lip are a pretty failsafe combo in my eyes)

Caroline Flack Dress, Zara

To fully appreciate the cuteness of this outfit, you probably have the ignore the sacks of dog poo bags and the dog lead…she’s just keeping it real I guess! I’m definitely embracing the coloured leopard print that’s everywhere a the moment too, which is something you will be seeing from me in an upcoming post (hint: if you’ve checked out my Instagram feed lately, you may know what I’m talking about).

So that’s me for another week, as I type I have a face fully of nourishing green mud and am planning some future content – as well as more fashion (yay!) there will some semi-regular beauty stuff, (hopefully) some travel and some more lifestyle/adulting posts that I hope will help others taking those steps in life now. If this anything else you think would make an interesting post feel free to shout out in the comments or get in touch on social media.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

FASHION / Same old brand new me?

Top, Topshop / Trousers, ASOS / Shoes, Misguided

I would normally post a better quality of picture than this as part of a blog post these days, however I wanted to use this one because it captured a very are and fleeting moment where I felt a little more like my old self, so I felt it was a moment worth sharing.

I wore this outfit on my last night out of 2018 and it kind of reminded me of the stuff I used to wear in my slimmer days, which me think I may be starting to turn a corner in this whole self loathing thang I’ve had going on for the last couple of years.

A high waist and a high neckline are my sweet spot for making me feel comfortable and looking flattering, as this experiment was successful I may bring this combo out again more often!

What are your favourite clothing combos that make you feel good?

Thanks for reading,

J xx


We’re into yet another year – another chapter of our lives where we promise ourselves a bunch of stuff will happen that’s better than what we’ve done before…

Last year I posted 5 Things for 2018 which were some of my most popular posts of the year (the final one is here if you want to see how I got on) so I thought this would be a great thing to repeat for 2019. There are things I want to do and apparently pledging to do them on the internet helps me think about doing them a bit more! So, here goes…

1 – shop in my own closet 75% of the time 👖

Quick disclaimer: I haven’t watched ANY of the documentaries or read any articles about fast fashion and how wasteful the clothing and beauty industries are becoming. However, I have noticed for a number of years now that the way I spend money on these items isn’t very responsible at all, and I would like to work on changing that. At the start of last year I committed to a January spending ban which was a bit unrealistic and not the right way to go about things; this time I am simply resolving to make more considered choices for the sake of both my sanity and bank balance.

2 – get a home bar 🥂

When we moved into our house 6 months ago we promised ourselves that this would be one of the first things we did so we could enjoy some lovely summer parties at home. Well, that didn’t happen (though we did have a couple of nice gatherings anyway) but this year it will because we have the intent, a plan and a load of bar-related utensils given as Christmas gifts!

3 – Un-join the gym and get outside 🌳 Further disclaimer: this is not a recent pic of my, it’s about 3yrs old, I added it in as it shows me doing exactly what I want to start doing again.

Most people join the gym in January, right? Not me! I’ve just given notice on my membership – for a variety of reasons I wasn’t going and getting stressed about not going, and I managed perfectly well with getting regular exercise pre-gym (although I must point out that I was at uni and not working full time during this period). I used to love getting outside, going for a walk and clearing my head a bit, so that’s what I plan to get back to doing again. There will need to be a few changes to my old habit this time to accommodate for work and also finding some new routes now I don’t live in the same place, but I’m confident I can make it work if I start small and build.

4 – Get out of the house more

But you’ve just said you’ll go outside more, I don’t get it? You make be thinking. Well, the Mr pointed out to me a few weeks ago that I’ve put myself deep in hibernation mode for a fair number of months now. Partly as I’m loving being in my new home, partly because I haven’t been making an effort to leave the house, partly because at some points I haven’t felt able to leave the house and function as part of society other than go to work. I need to do a little bit of work to enjoy life more throughout, from the little things to the big – adding the weekly date nights back in, a few more nights away, coffee dates with friends etc.

5 – Dranks out, drinks in.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but a little less conversation and a little more action is needed! I have long considered myself as ‘not much of a drinker’ (although “mid twenties Jenny” would fall down laughing at this, “early twenties” and “late twenties/early thirties” Jenny were virtually teetotal) however if you’ve checked in on my Instagram account over the last 12 months you’ll see that I definitely can’t say this right now…I don’t know why I haven’t curbed this as I really want to, so I plan to put myself back in positions where I can easily not drink but still have fun.

I’ll post my first proper ‘how I’m getting on’ update around March time, though any major updates will probably be in their own posts and on my social media channels.

If there’s anything similar that you’re doing are do share it with me, it definitely helps keep things on the right track when others are aware of goals to encourage and support.

Wish me luck!

J xx