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Everything is for sale

When we purchased a block of flats in Kilburn High Rd our original aim was to refurbish and then resell. This later changed once we saw that the Housing Association was not only willing to fund the full refurbishment costs but also will rent the building from us at £180,000 per annum on a ten year rental contract. This is in addition to the £80,000 already coming in from the other five flats held on ASTs.

It was then decided to keep the property, and instead of reselling it, to refinance it and extract money in this way.

That was until I met a Nigerian tube driver who has someone in Nigeria who is desperately looking for a long-term high yielding BTL property. This tube driver was also into property and had done rather well from it, he had purchased a whole block in Westbourne Terrace with no money down. This was in the good old days, when you could use the discount on a property as the deposit and banks were lending at high Loan to Values. He made money by eventually selling the block and then decided to invest it in Nigeria, building property. This was many years ago and he’s still waiting for the returns, meaning the chances are his money has disappeared into a black hole never to be seen again. When a Nigerian has issues investing in Nigeria, what hope do the rest of us have?

I must admit alarm bells started ringing in my head as the last time I dealt with a Nigerian in a property transaction I ended up getting attacked. The property was sold by a Nigerian with a Nigerian tenant in the flat; the tenant, despite a letter from the lawyers which stated we were the new landlord, refused to recognise us as the new landlords and consequently refused to hand over any rent. When we tried to go and collect in person he struck out and attacked me. The police were called and the whole episode was videoed, as I suspected he would be difficult. In the end we had to evict him using the proper channels, he even had the nerve to turn up in court to defend himself!

Of course one example isn’t sufficient to tarnish the whole nation, therefore here’s another: a while ago, when we wanted to place a mortgage from an overseas client from Nigeria we rang up a well known High St Bank’s international department to see what the application process was. The person on the other line told me on the phone they do not accept any application from Nigeria, full stop; irrespective of the client profile. I asked if they could put this in writing, they refused but stated this was set in stone and any application submitted would be simply declined.

However, this is a country which is doing well and growing, even though it may be difficult to transact in and with; so it would be unwise to dismiss it completely. Money is being made in Nigeria and is flowing into the London property market without a doubt. Industries are booming there, along with this there is a high level of corruption as well.

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It’s rare to get a lump as big as this with a solid guaranteed income, without any breaks or money to be spent for the next ten years. In the interim the property will go up in value, a 5% increase means a £225,000 uplift on a purchase price of £4.5m; and a 5% uplift is a modest assumption, given the ripple effect which is causing Kilburn prices to go on an upward trajectory.

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This property wasn’t on the market, but when a request came through which matched the stock that we had, it automatically became on the market, as we are open to selling it at the right price. Although not openly marketed, we only need one person to purchase it, not the whole market to know about it. So if this is a serious offer we will entertain it. There are means and ways to ensure the offer is a serious one. One way is for the buyer to put a non refundable deposit down with the lawyers, subject to the right legal paper work being received, the buyer is given a set period to exchange. If they do not do so by this time they lose the deposit. If the buyer is serious they should have no issues in doing this.

The hurdle in this kind of scenario is often the solicitors, especially on the buyer’s side who at times is more concerned about covering themselves than actually getting the deal done. They put so many clauses in the agreement to the point where it’s hardly worth anything. Nonetheless if the lawyers are decent this can be done to secure the sale prior to exchange, it always helps if the firms know each other, this means they can sing form the same hymn sheet and get the transaction done quickly.

Another way is to check they have proof of funds sitting in the lawyer’s account ready to exchange. This shows intention and the ability to purchase.

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Any letter showing proof of funds has to be treated with caution, as many forge statements to pull in contracts. Or they use one proof of funds to pull in multiple contracts, once the contracts are in they then start to resell the properties and keep delaying the sellers using tactics from their lawyers. A good way is too call the bank and cross check the statement and ask if this is the only transaction which it is being used for.

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Rest assured we will be doing very thorough due diligence to ensure the purchaser is genuine, and we have seen the many tricks purchasers use when they have no intention of purchasing but have another agenda.

It will not take long to figure out if this is a genuine buyer; either way we are not in a desperate situation of having to sell, which is a fortunate position to be in.

It is dangerous in this situation to stop our other avenues, namely refurbishing the block and refinancing; both are still in full motion. It is when you’re in a position of strength both psychologically and in reality that you find you can attract a strong offer. It is never good to negotiate from a position of weakness. Blagging your position only takes you so far, it is far better to spend money on valuations and doing groundwork, look at it as if paying an insurance premium; it may go to waste but it gives you peace of mind should the sale not occur.

        The Real Deal

 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge 

  • Off market
  • Short Lease
  • Cash purchasers only
  • The lease extension is likely to cost £550k
  • End value expected to be £1.55m
  • Rare to get this much margin in this location

Purchase price £550,000

Call us now to purchase! 

Suresh Vagjiani

Sow & Reap

A Property Investment Company

 

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!Tips of the Week

Always focus on the capital growth of an investment property – never sacrifice this for yield as the bulk of your money will be made in the rise in property value, rental income is secondary. This is driven by location. 

A property crash is not like a stock market crash, you won’t lose all your money as the property is a tangible asset class, and it cannot disappear. Even buying a dud property is like having a bad haircut if you wait long enough it will grow back.

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