Have you ever gone for a property viewing as a new buyer and was just led around the house, not knowing what to do or look out for? You might just be nodding your head to whatever you’re being told about the property from the realtor, with moments of awkward silence as you look around the place.
What should we look out for when we go for a property viewing? How should we best prepare ourselves to make the most of the viewing session? After all, you are probably using your precious weekends and time off from work to look through what might be your future home, so you can’t exactly take the process lightly.
In this article, we will cover a sensory approach to property viewing. Of course there are many ways to go about viewing a property. Each person has their own priorities and things to look out for. There are also many different approaches that can work in property viewings, each with its own benefits and tradeoffs.
What is a Sensory Approach?
A sensory approach to property viewing means using our 5 human senses in the viewing process. Our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch naturally come into play whenever we want to better observe our surroundings.
Taking a sensory approach means that we have to be more conscious of the way that we observe. What are we searching for? What senses are we using? This focus helps us to spot things which we may not have observed in the past.
Millions of years of evolution have distilled into these senses we take for granted on the day-to-day. We unconsciously use them in our daily activities, and would probably not pay close attention to our senses until we lose them.
We complain when we can’t taste when we’re ill but we don’t often rejoice at the fact that we have the ability to taste many wonderful different flavours. When it comes to the different senses, our sense of sight dominates and takes up most of our cognitive resources.
Paying attention to what our other senses pick up might surprise you at how many things we miss out from our environment. The sensory approach to property viewing hopes to help you patch your blindspots. Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, and Touch. Use all your senses to find out if this is the right home for you.
Sight — Visual Expectation and Inspection
As they say, seeing is believing. When it comes to property viewings, homebuyers typically have an image in mind. Most of the time, this visual expectation is created by the photos uploaded by the selling-side’s realtor on platforms such as PropertyGuru, 99.co, and more.
Occasionally, some of these photos are taken off other listings or use stock photos from the developer’s marketing package. The impression can go both ways. Visual expectations of how the property looks may be low if the property was not staged, or if the images are blurry.
On the contrary, the visual expectations of the property may be very high if marketing and staged photos were used. With these images primed and ready to go in the buyer’s mind, the property viewing session is a reality check against these expectations formed in the buyer’s mind.
Apart from the reality check, sellers have to know that their property’s aesthetic look will affect how buyers value the property as well. Some serious buyers may be willing to pay more for a property which looks simple and neat, closer to a showroom look.
Moreover, when buyers go for a property viewing, they need to be able to visualise their future home in the given space. By giving viewers the physical and personal space in what might be their new home, they can better understand whether the property is a good fit for them.
When it comes to the sense of sight, we can go on and on about how viewers might look for defects or whether the surrounding area of the property is what they previously expected. Regardless, the key to using our sense of sight is to visualise and inspect. Reality check our expectations, and visually imagine what the future home might look like if they had bought that property.
Hearing — Sounds, Noise, and Serenity
Other than the sense of sight, all the other senses may suddenly sound more and more foreign when we bring them into the context of a property viewing. Nonetheless, our sense of hearing is important to help us identify the noise pollution levels in the area.
This is something that photos and videos on the property listing might not be able to convey fully. Keep your ears sharp and know what sounds you’re looking out for when you go for the property viewing. This will help you identify potential problems before making the decision to purchase the home.
The fact that you might be staying in the property for the next few years should be enough gravity for you to understand that the viewing cannot be understated. It will be well worth the time and effort to make sure you cover all the blindspots before borrowing millions and emptying your bank accounts for the property, the renovation and furnishings.
Home buyers should be aware of the noise level of the area from construction, road traffic, MRT stations, children in the pool or playground area, and finally the neighbours noise level from pets, children, music. To observe these noise levels, multiple viewing might be necessary to cover all the blind spots.
Of course, not everyone might be bothered by the noise levels. But if you have lived in a relatively quiet neighbourhood prior to moving to a noisier one, you might find it difficult to adjust. This might affect your stress levels, quality of sleep, and your general enjoyment of the space you have purchased with your hard-earned money.
Taste — Food Options Nearby
When it comes to our sense of taste, we do not mean for you to take a literal bite out of their refrigerator. Using our sense of taste to guide us will come in handy before and after the viewing process. In the day-to-day, you might cook or order in.
When it comes to that, you will need to know what options are available to you before making the huge commitment to the home. It might be a good idea to have a meal in the area before or after the viewing to have a feel of what it might be like if you are a resident of that neighbourhood.
Alternatively, you can go on GrabFood, FoodPanda, Deliveroo, or other food delivery apps to see if you have your favourite bites available in that location. This might be outside of the viewing experience itself, but it is a good idea to spend some time in the area since you are already there to view the property.
Food is a super important part of our lives. In Singapore, where food is a huge part of our culture and way of life, you should pay close attention to what food options are available to you should you choose to stay in that particular part of the island.
The convenience and an abundance of food options will increase your quality of life, giving you fewer annoyances and things to complain about. A hungry person is an angry person. So, keep yourself well-fed and go to the viewing sharp and in a good mood.
Smell — Quality of Air in the Neighbourhood
To home buyers who are new to this process and are looking for a new home for the first time, this might sound iffy to you (or that we are squeezing content out of a rock). But we aren’t kidding. The air quality in the neighbourhood is important. More so than you think.
The key part of being an experienced property viewer is to make sure that you don’t let your biases affect your viewing and inspecting process. This is hard to do. But for the short 1 hour or so, you will have to be focused on your goals for the viewing.
When it comes to air quality of the unit and its surroundings, you are looking for a few things. Specifically, we are looking for air “pollution” from our surroundings. For instance, Pasir Gudang has pollution travelling to Punggol, or confectionaries in the north and north east region having a sweet smell in the mornings.
Similarly, we are looking if there are any religious institutions in the vicinity of the property. This area could have the smell of incense during festive or religious periods. Home buyers need to be aware of these aspects of their surroundings. On some occasions, you might or might not like the smell of the neighbours’ cooking.
Having hawker centres or kopitiams near your future residence might be great for your taste buds, but you will have to be alright with the potentially intense smell of cooking all day round. However, depending on the location this might not be as severe an issue. If the property you are viewing is near industrial areas, you might want to be extra aware of potential issues as well.
Green and blue spaces in the surroundings of your future home will impact the air quality. Having more nature around you acts as a natural air filter. More space for nature means less space for commercial and other polluting activities. Perhaps this is also why some homeowners are willing to pay a premium for homes near large parks and nature reserves.
Touch — Temperature & Textures
Touch is another important human sense. Interestingly, our sense of touch can also contribute to the viewing process. The temperature of the area when viewing the property, and the textures of the material used in the development (especially if you are going to move in without renovating).
People living in Singapore often complain about the heat. Even born and raised Singaporeans do this more often than we realise. If the temperature is so important for our comfort (unless you A/C 24/7), you should probably check out if the property is located in a very dense urban area.
Large, built-up spaces with a lot of concrete trap the heat from the sun. Dense urban areas will have a higher chance of being more uncomfortable with this issue. As global warming cranks up, this might be an increasingly important issue in the long run and definitely deserves some attention in the viewing process.
Finally, textures. This tip is perhaps more for homebuyers looking to move in immediately. Are the renovated surfaces in the home to your liking? Do the washrooms have non-slip tiles that might save you a world of pain? Taking the mental note of this would help you better value that home. How much will you be willing to pay for that piece of real estate if you have to spend more money to renovate it to your liking?
Clearly, we would be willing to pay more for a home that doesn’t require additional work. But how will you know this unless you pay close attention to the details of the home and which areas are to your taste and preferences?
Taking into consideration all these 5 senses when going for property viewings, we hope that this article can help you be better prepared when you visit what might be your future home. No more awkward conversations. No more being led around like a sheep.
Now you’re ready and you know what to look out for. We hope that this has been helpful and that you go into that property viewing with both eyes open and all 4 other senses ready to rumble. Make the most of the physical property viewings and take your time to enjoy the experience.