Deal breaker checklist


Small issues such as a broken kitchen drawer don’t need to be a deal-breaker. But make a list, so you can ask the seller to fix before you get the keys.

  1. Spot damp.
  2. Case the joint for wet spots, mould, peeling wallpaper and condensation on windows. Check inside cupboards too. Use your nose – does it smell musty?
  3. Look up at ceilings.
  4. Look for cracks, brown stains, slow drips and problem leaks.
  5. Open doors and windows.
  6. Also shut every door behind you as you’re being shown around to make sure they all work. Open cupboards and drawers with a smile and say: “I do hope you don’t mind.” Remember, you’re giving them £100,000s.
  7. Flick switches.
  8. Turn lights on and off, especially those with older switches. Fire up the cooker. Also check the wiring’s age, as updating electrics can cost large.
  9. Count power points.
  10. Make a floorplan and mark out power point locations in each room, testing sockets too.
  11. Inspect the plumbing.
  12. Flush toilets and turn taps on. Check cupboards underneath sinks are dry. Check water pressure and that it gets hot. If you’re feeling brave, go outside, lift the drain covers, then get someone to flush the loo and check the drain’s flow.
  13. Feel the heat. Ask the seller to switch on the boiler and turn on the central heating. Check the radiators for leaks and rust, and make sure they all get hot right across the surface.
  14. Locks are key.
  15. Ensure door locks are up to insurance standards. Most policies insist that front and back doors be fitted with a five lever mortice deadlock. Check windows for locks and the front door for break-in signs.
  16. Watch out for woodchip.
  17. Buying somewhere with woodchip or other textured wallpaper slapped all over it usually means excavating through layers of paper. And probably pulling half the plaster off.
  18. Lift mats and rugs.
  19. Check for stains and other nasties lurking underneath.
  20. Turn on your phone.
  21. Check for a signal to confirm it’s not a mobile dead zone.
  22. Audit the attic.
  23. Inspecting the loft in daylight is a great way to gauge the state of the property’s woodwork. Check timbers for rot, as well as cracks or holes.
  24. Observe outside walls.
  25. Check for wall cracks, mould and rotten woodwork.
  26. Hit the roof.
  27. Take binoculars and check for missing/slipped tiles. Eye up the gutters and woodwork for potential problems. If possible, go on a rainy day, to see if the gutters leak.
  28. Avoid kitchen nightmares.
  29. In the kitchen, mime preparing a dinner. Is there enough room?
  30. Take a compass.
  31. Check if estate agents’ promises of a sunny south facing garden are true.
  32. Pry next door.
  33. If buying a flat or terrace, alarm bells should ring if neighbours’ properties are rundown. Their problems can quickly become your problems.
  34. Vet the seller.
  35. If they strike you as unreliable, think twice. A property’s not good value if the vendor doesn’t want to sell it. You could waste thousands in fees.


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