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Property Advice

Our monthly property advice in association with Charterhouse

Q. Is there such a thing as an ideal time for a property to be viewed – and if so, when is it?

A. Like most things to do with the property market, this all depends on whether you are selling or buying. As a seller, you naturally want your home to be seen in the best possible light. So, generally speaking, you should aim to schedule all viewings for a bright, sunny day that offers the maximum amount of natural light inside your property, as well as showing off the outside to the best effect – particularly if you have an attractive garden. Sunlight, of course, also has the added advantage of putting everyone in a good, positive mood.

As a buyer, on the other hand, you are actually much better off viewing a property on a miserable, rainy day! Why? Well firstly, it enables you to see whether the gutters leak, the drains are blocked, or the garden has an unpleasantly high water table.

Secondly, if you like the place under those circumstances, you can be pretty sure that you will positively love it when the sun finally shines. So far, so good - except for the fact that in this country we can’t actually guarantee the kind of weather we’re going to get from one moment to the next. And while sellers can to a certain extent compensate for a dull, overcast day by switching on all the lights, there’s not much a buyer can do to make up for a lack of rain.

However, it’s not just the weather that comes into play here. Much depends on the individual circumstances and situation of the property concerned. If you are selling a house close to a school, for example, you might want to avoid holding viewings at break times. Similarly, if your home happens to be on a major road, then it might be wise to try and schedule viewings outside rush hour. These are not dastardly underhand tricks, incidentally – whatever the consumer lobbyists might say. If you are selling, they are just plain common sense. If you are buying, they are simply issues you need to be aware of and take into account.

Q. Help! We need to move and don’t really want to wait until the Autumn - but we’re going to be away for much of the summer.

A. The first thing to say is “don’t panic!” Even in high summer there are buyers about; maybe not as many as in the autumn, but they are just as keen to buy. Do not worry about it interfering with your own holiday plans, either. When it comes to showing prospective buyers around, many estate agents actually prefer it if the seller is absent, since it allows them to concentrate on the job in hand. So, just give your agents the keys and a contact number, and let them deal with viewings and so forth while you’re away. Security is really the big issue here. Remember, 4 out of 5 burglaries take place when properties are empty – so having an estate agent visiting your property regularly is actually a big plus. There are many other measures you can take, for example:

• Avoid discussing your holiday or business trip in public, and don’t put your home address on your luggage.

• Try to enlist a friend or neighbour to keep your house looking lived-in: for example, by opening and closing curtains, keeping the hallway clear of junk mail, etc.

• Put one or two lights in different rooms on timer switches, and do the same with a radio.

• Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries.

• Try not to leave valuable items visible through the windows.