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The Phantom Deal

12th May 2021

We have been tracking a property in a desirable part of West London.  The property is freehold and consists of a large shop, basement and uppers.  The uppers are in a derelict, and possibly dangerous, condition.

This is an example of the kind of deals we seek; obviously subject to a reasonable price point.

As it is a freehold building, it should therefore be easy enough to transact.  However, the representative of the owner at first claimed the property belonged to relatives, then it transpired to be himself; the square footage was also up in the air, as was the point about whether the property had planning or not.

It definitely used to have planning for something, but that had lapsed.  The owner claimed it had been implemented and therefore was valid.  However, no proof had been provided regarding the implementation.

To top all of this off, the owner wanted above market value for the property.

So, we didn’t know what was being sold, yet we were being asked to pay over the market value.

Usually when there are unknown variables to a property the price is reduced; and substantially.  Here, we had a vendor who went against this flow and wanted an enhanced figure.

Unsurprisingly, the property didn’t sell.

Regardless, we had stayed in touch; and recently, it seemed the deal could be resurrected.  The vendor said I could purchase the property but without confirmation of the square footage, planning etc., all the important bits you need to know when purchasing a property.

I thought ok, in order to do the deal, I’ll agree the enhanced above market price, on the condition of a delayed completion (I had a strategy in mind, which would make this deal worthwhile).

Nonetheless, I still needed to know what I was purchasing, for example, the size; and a proper survey of the building was urgently required too.

In this particular circumstance, the best way to proceed was via an option agreement.  So, we would agree to purchase the property within a short space of time, say 6 weeks.  This would have given us the required breathing space to understand all issues and the potential with the property, allowing us to exchange with some knowledge of what we were purchasing instead of no knowledge.

I thought this was a reasonable solution given the lack of basic information concerning the property.

I thought this would give the vendor what he wants, and will allow the deal to finally move on and close.  The vendor gave me a window of three days to close the deal, which is very unreasonable.

Of course, we wish to do deals; but there comes a point where frankly speaking it’s just not worth the time and energy.  Often, the problems presented are not the actual issues, so, dealing with them will not bring the deal to a close.

I suspect this is perhaps one such situation.  If there is an emotional attachment to the property none of what we have addressed will advance the deal to closure.

Suresh Vagjiani

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