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Seeing is believing?

So what is the value of seeing? We actually see very little of what actually exists. Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. This puts things into perspective. Clearly seeing with human eyes has its limitation yet people put a lot of emphasis on seeing. WHY? 

We are, as I write, on the verge of exchanging on a property on a popular road in prime Hampstead. Many agents say they are selling properties in Hampstead but they are not, the property instead is in Finchley Rd, West Hampstead and Kilburn. In the same way when properties in Bayswater or Queensway are being sold in auction they are described as being sold in Notting Hill. 

However this property was on a prime road and actually in Hampstead. It consisted of roughly 1,100 sq. ft. and we were getting it at the knock down price of £700k. We understandably had interest from three of our investors all at the same time.

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However one of them wanted to see the property and made an appointment to have a look at it the following day, and then was prepared to exchange straight after. Another party knew this was a deal right from the outset and went ahead and agreed to purchase the property blind. You cannot hang around when you see a deal.

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So the deal was closed, on the day and without viewing, which annoyed the other party who had arranged for an appointment. The third buyer was one step behind, he was going to confirm whether he could make the appointment to me on the following day but the appointment was terminated. You cannot hang around once a deal is put your way. This property is about £300k cheaper than market value; therefore I cannot see from a financial point of view what anyone is doing which is worth more than £300k. The property is in a letable condition, and requires no work. 

We had a similar scenario when selling 5 flats in Earls court, Nevern Square, before we completed on them ourselves. We had a party interested who had proof of funds, had serious intention – but they wanted to see the property. 

We could not get access prior to completion for various reasons and they would not purchase without seeing. We were prepared to accept £5.5m prior to completion from someone ready to do the deal. 

But after completion we know we will resell the property for £6.5m perhaps even more, without doing any work by simply cutting up the leases. So the price has jumped up. Perhaps they will think we are being cheeky, but we are simply selling according to the market appetite.

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They are of course free to not purchase the property without looking, but they will have to pay us £1m more. This is the price for being a doubting Thomas. It’s similar to playing a poker game when you’re putting bets down blind you get to put in half in the pot compared to someone who has seen the cards. Similar principle here.

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So is it right you should purchase without even seeing the property physically?

We had a deal last week which was a property in Knightsbridge with a long lease for £600k, I knew I could buy this blind as there was plenty of margin on this deal. Without seeing the property we sent the funds over in a few hours in anticipation of an exchange.

Most of the work should not be based on seeing the property, a lot of ground work can be done prior. With the help of google maps you can see the outside of the property, directions, nearby buildings and do some research etc.

Interior condition is given too much emphasis when people purchase. To redo the flat above shouldn’t cost you more than £50k maximum for a BTL finish. Even if we assume this is the case the property is still a deal, therefore seeing the property has very little to do with whether it’s a deal or not.

Most people worship a maker they do not have the privilege of seeing, yet when purchasing a mere investment property many have it set in stone they must see the property. This is a must and a condition.

Consider many off plan properties are sold on the basis of a show flat, actually what’s being sold is a volume of air. They need to have faith in the builder that he will deliver and deliver according to the product shown.

This is the same leap of faith required by investors who invest in our say so. Not so much faith though as they are buying something that does exist, so there is no chance of us not finishing the development. The titles will be checked by a lawyer. They need to trust that we are making the right call.

This comes in varying degrees from different investors, some who have been burnt previously will be less trusting and will carry their sceptical and distrusting attitudes over when they start with us. Others who have perhaps luckily not been burnt have a more open mind, and go with our say so. Others we have built trust with by doing deals, and slowly this gets built up stronger and stronger until it becomes an almost blind level of trust.

Yet some have this even at the beginning of our relationship, so it is not even earned. It is a leap of faith.

I appreciate it is a cold and brutal world out there and more so when it comes to investing in property. Yet without a level of trust established nothing would move.

We send millions over to our lawyers account, we need to trust that they, and the money, will still be there the next day. Bank lenders need to trust that the surveyor has done his job properly and given the right figure to lend upon.

Trust has to be established and earned, or it can be given, based on what you see and feel. For example, a couple who live in Harrow had been sitting on £400k which had not been doing very much. But they didn’t know what to do had no inclination of investing in property. Yet they saw the necessity of investing into a physical asset to simply protect their wealth. They agreed to purchase a flat in St John’s Wood, an ex- local 3 bedroom flat, priced at £575k. Many will say this is too much for an ex local flat. However a few months later it has been valued at £700k.

They moved on the purchase blind and only went to see the property after completion. I asked them why they invested in the property not really knowing me and not seeing the property. The lady mentioned it ‘felt’ right. So this has its place too.

Many business people describe using a gut feel to make decision upon, and the right people to trust. Hell if it was only about the figures and cash flows, then this is available to everyone one. This deeper aspect comes into place.

One tycoon I know makes decisions very quickly. They are not always a yes, but he tries to get a feel for the property most of the time without looking physically at the deal and gives his decision. He purchased a £5.2m property in this way without seeing the property internally.

The value of seeing the property is to look at the aspects, meaning views and ceiling heights, these cannot be appreciated from text book work, you also get a feel of the property as well. The square footage is given in property descriptions, so you can get a square footage figure and you can even look at the floor plans, but volume which is very important is not mentioned in either of these places. This will show you the height of the ceilings, and indeed whether the ceilings are high enough to construct a mezzanine floor, adding valuable extra square footage, and whether you can get away with it.

The Real Deal

South Hampstead, London, NW6

Purchase Price: £2m

  • A large beautiful property in an excellent location
  • Around 2500 sq ft area
  • Very high ceilings
  • Communal gardens
  • Close to the leisure facilities of Finchley Road and Swiss Cottage
  • Expected resell price after loft and rear extension is £3.5m

Call us now to secure this deal!

Suresh Vagjiani

Sow & Reap

A Property Investment Company

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!Tips of the Week

Remember you never have to pay Capital Gains tax until you sell a property; and you never have to sell a property… you can still extract the increase in price by way of remortgaging.

Look beyond your doorstep. Investing on your backdoor is often a safe but poor option. The question you should ask is: where will your money serve you best?_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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