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Unravelling the thread

8th July 2020

Being in property is a little like being a detective.  Recently, a client reported a residential house near his home, which had squatters in and was in a state of disrepair.  This is very surprising given the current situation, and that squatting in a residential property is illegal.  This tells me that the property has not been lived in for a while, and nobody is keeping an eye on it.

This is a surprising phenomenon, as squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence.   Not so with commercial properties, where they are free to come and go without interference from the law.  Don’t get me wrong, you’ll receive plenty of phone calls, complaints from both the council and local residents; but no offers of any help, not even from law enforcement.

Typically, they come in organised gangs, who will use the site to dump rubbish on continually until you pay them off to leave.  It’s almost like a modern day Mafia.

Given the above isn’t applicable to residential property it was a surprising situation.

After some sleuthing, we managed to track the ‘owners’ down and made contact with them.  We were the first to inform them that probate had been granted.  The family were not even aware this was now over the line, and ready to be sold.

The reason why many deals are probate deals, is that often they have been neglected for decades.  This could be a problem if the purchase is being funded by a mortgage, especially if on a Buy To Let basis.  If the property is not rentable you cannot fund it on a Buy to Let basis.  Even on a residential basis the lender may request a retention if the property is in bad condition.

The beneficiaries are also more likely to take a haircut on the price if the deal can be executed quickly.  Simply put they just want the money; it’s often viewed as free money akin to winning the lottery.  So, if they get 20-25% less they often aren’t that bothered.

We advised the beneficiaries to keep a closer eye on the property, as it looks like they have got visitors, the permanent kind.

Informing the family of both these points served as good ice breaker.  Ideally, we will want to buy the property without it touching the open market; this will be our primary objective.

Given the market is just waking up is something which is in our favour.  Appointing an agent to sell a property can take many months, and perhaps a few failed mortgages too.

We can offer a clean quick purchase, though of course less than market price.

We will keep our readers informed on how this thread unravels.

Suresh Vagjiani

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