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Viewing a house before renting or purchasing remains a critical step;  and there is much more to look out for when considering a house other than just how spacious the living room, the kitchen or the master bedroom is.

This article gives you tips on what to look out for when viewing a house.

  • Take Your Time: Whether you’re looking for a house to rent or to buy, don’t be in a hurry.

You should ideally spend at least 15 minutes on a property on each visit to take in the place since the more time you spend viewing a property, the more things you observe.

Also, try and see the house more in more than one occasion even though this might not be possible for guys who are renting and have a short notice to house hunt.

N.B.: Visit the area at different times of the day/night and even in different weather seasons.

If you are viewing the house during the day, switch off the lights (agents leave them on during viewing) this will allow you to see just how much natural light comes in.

  • Security: No matter how good the house is, security should be your primary concern when viewing a property.

Mr. Innocent Ndemo, Managing Director at Secureman Services, acknowledges that although different areas require various security apparatus, there are key safety indicators that a buyer should look out for when viewing a house;

  1. The Surrounding: is the house next to a pub for instance because that should raise a security concern? Does it have an electric fence or a security alarm system? If it’s an apartment, you need to know if there’s a security firm contracted to provide security services and if they have CCTV.
  2. Nearness to a police station: Although in Kenya sometimes this doesn’t matter, Mr. Ndemo says that it’s an aspect that a buyer should be keen on when viewing a house, he also advises purchasers to look at check if the kind of doors and windows installed are bugler proof.
  • General infrastructure: how is the general surrounding of the house you’re interested in buying? Is it near a major road? If not how accessible is it from the nearest? Are there means of public transport? Are there shops nearby?
  •  Mobile Network Coverage: In today’s world, our lives are centered on the mobile phone, and you, therefore, want to ensure that your home has proper network coverage.

Apart from checking the network bars on your phone, you can make a phone call or send an email to ascertain the signal strength.

  • Is the house damp? A damp house can be a health hazard as exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of respiratory infections, allergies or asthma.

You can quickly detect a damp house instantly if there’s a musty smell. Other signs to look out for include watermarked walls or ceilings and flaky plaster. A newly repainted house might camouflage the moldy smell, but you should pay attention the ceiling and around the skirting boards for cues.

N.B.: Do not be shy to move furniture or any décor along the walls to get a proper view as this can be stage-managed to hide problem areas.

  • Is the building structurally sound? You need to look at the external overview of the house you want to buy. Are there missing tiles? Is the roof intact and chimneys straight? Is the exterior wall cracked? Check out for columns and beams; the tragic thing is most properties in the low-income areas have no columns, and this is a grave violation of which the buildings may collapse.
  • Can the property be extended? You might find the need to build an extension in the future to create space for your growing family therefore when viewing a house it’s prudent to find out whether the property has planning permission or if it had any in the past.

N.B.: having a quick look at what the neighbors have done will give you an indication of the planning permission.

  • Availability of Water: Water remains a crucial resource in any home. You need to identify the source of water for the house you’re looking to buy. Even in cases where the houses have a borehole, find out more. Are there perennial water shortages in the area? You can establish this by talking to the neighbors. You can also observe if they have kept many water storage containers like jerry cans and drums in their balconies; the need for many many water storage containers may reflect water scarcity.

Also, inquire about the cost of water per cubic meters for the rentals; however most landlords will include this as part of service charge.

  • Garbage collection: Find out how often garbage is disposed of in the estate/flat. The more the frequency of garbage collection the better. Lack of proper garbage collection measures can lead to piling of rubbish in people’s balconies as well as the collective community trash bin. This may result to cheap aesthetics of the property, bad smell, as well as health challenges.
  • General aesthetics: These speak more than just beauty and will give you a good indication of how well the property is managed. This means in such properties a leak on your roof will be fixed much faster as compared to properties that seem unkempt. Also, the caretaker is an accurate reflection of the service offered; the way he treats and answers your question at viewing will give you a clear picture of how the management is.
  • Ambiance: Ambiance in a building is important in every home. This is mostly dependent on the neighbors. Some neighbors are loud verbally; some just are into loud music. This is very annoying especially to those people who love their peace and quietness. If you are in the later category, you are advised to look for a house where the occupants are families compared to singles.

Most single rooms and one bedroom attract young people who are mostly loud and if you are looking for serenity, properties with more two bedrooms than one bedroom houses and bedsitters will do.

Hanging lines can be a good lead to identifying whether the occupants are families or singles; the more the children clothe on the hanging lines, the saner the place, you hardly have overnight parties in such households.

You should also check out the neighborhood for any Clubs, Churches/Mosques; unless you don’t mind the loud music from the clubs on Fridays, or loud music from a ‘kesha’ from the church next door, or a daily wake-up call from a nearby mosque.


N.B.: Speaking to the already existing tenants if the set up allows will reveal more about a house than an agent will.

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