Archive | September, 2010

The half price flat in Bristol…what a saga!

27 Sep

Today I am going to write about a cheap flat in Bristol which I nearly bought, then my friend Rich nearly bought… and then neither of us bought!!
It all started when I saw a flat for sale in Bristol – it looked cheap and while I don’t know the area, my friend Rich (a builder and investor) lives there. I asked him to take a look for me and he kindly reported back – the flat was in great condition and in a popular area for tenants – would be a good renter and a good seller. Only problem was I was due to fly out on holiday the next day.  Fortunately I know the auctioneer and I said if it doesn’t sell keep me updated.
So there I was lying on the beach sipping cocktails and I get a text from the auctioneer that the flat hasn’t sold… several texts backwards and forwards between Rich and I and I establish a price which I am happy to pay. The reserve was £40k and so I offer a cheeky £30k….
It comes back 5 mins later “No, sorry too low”.
So I increase to £32k…
It comes back 10 mins later “No, sorry still too low”.
I try £33k….
One hour later “Sorry, still no”.
I have a couple more cocktails and decide my final bid.
“£35k is my best and final offer” I text the auctioneer.
I hear nothing…hmmm maybe they are thinking.
Next morning…
“Sorry still too low”.
I decide that I’m out and I get on with enjoying the rest of my holiday.
One month later I am emailed by the auctioneer.
“Are you still interested in that flat in Bristol at 35k?”
Well one whole month has passed and I have now decided that I will stick closer to home in my investments and so I decide it’s not for me – although it is a good price and there is money to be made (resale was c.£75k) So I decide to call Rich (who had seen it originally) and ask him if he is interested.
“What – you have a chance to buy that flat for £35k and you’re not going for it?” He sounds flabbergasted.
“Well, I have decided that I am going to stick to my area for now and so I am passing on it” I reply.
“How long have I got?” He asks.
“Not long” I reply “you have to act quickly”.
Rich springs into action and quickly finds a joint partner who wants to buy the flat with him. Issue is there are some legal problems which basically mean while you own the flat – you don’t have right of access to the flat! It requires sorting out to make it worth the money.
Rich decides it’s prudent to get it sorted before exchange and hires a private detective to track down the freeholder. She turns out to be the same person who owned the flat and got repossessed. She is very elusive, and after 3 days of travelling to a series of empty properties he eventually finds the mother – who has her telephone number!
Meanwhile…Rich’s investor has got annoyed with the estate agent for not returning his calls to view the flat, so he’s no longer interested. Rich can’t believe he’d pass up a half-price flat over something so petty, but quickly finds a relative who’ll partner with him instead.
In the meantime, he’s negotiating with the freeholder to buy the title (which would then secure legal access to the flat and double the flat’s value). All this happens within a few days, but meanwhile – out of the blue – an offer of £38k is put forward by the estate agent.

The auctioneer is very apologetic but asks if Rich will increase his offer. Having agreed a price Rich is unwilling to bid away his profit. He persuades the auctioneer it may be a frivolous bid from an amateur who doesn’t fully understand the legal issues. This is accepted and they say whoever gets to exchange first gets the deal.

Rich quickly gets the freeholder to agree a price, then spends the next 2 days frantically driving around the country delivering papers for investor’s signatures and contracts to solicitors.
First thing Friday morning the solicitor tells Rich exchange will take place in half an hour. But at midday the solicitor calls back to say the vendor (the repossessing bank) are refusing to exchange.
Turns out they changed their minds and have put the flat in an online auction… they want to see how that goes before they’ll exchange. The auction ends on Sunday at 7pm.
Rich is at his wits end – he’s pulled out all the stops to get this sale through. Offering higher bids could end up making the whole deal unprofitable if the rival bidder follows suit. He’s still hoping it’s an amateur who’ll be unable to exchange.
On Sunday the online auction deadline approaches and he watches in horror as the bidding reaches its reserve of 38k… presumably to the same person who had given the 38k offer to the estate agent.

And that’s the end of that.  The buyer exchanges and completes on the flat within a matter of days.

Rich is left with a hefty legal bill and a slice of disappointment pie.

The morale of this story – if you see a bargain – act quickly and decisively. Time waits for nobody.

The Mouldy House of Horrors in London

24 Sep

Today I went to see a very ugly house….but I thought given it is so ugly maybe most people won’t bother going to see it !

To top it off it also had a flat roof which I know surveyors hate!

Anyway – I drove out to Plumstead to take a look….I had found out it had been with a local agent previously for 160k and had not sold (it was a repo so was now going to auction for a quick sale). It had a guide of £110k. Now I know Plumstead is outer London – but still £110k for a 2 bed in London sounds good value to me

On entering the property you are hit with a smell of damp…although it doesn’t look that bad:

Although this radiator looks pretty new and I’m sure it shouldn’t so rusty already!

And then you start up the stairs and you can see the damp spores on the hall….

And then in the first bedroom….

And the second bedroom….

And my God I was itching when I was in there – I swear the damp spores were in the air and were attacking me!

Anyway I decided that with a new roof and some treatment I could sort it – but meant I needed to buy it close to guide…sadly it sold for 10k more and so alas another purchase I did not make!

Today I am a Finalist at the Landlord And Letting Awards!

20 Sep

Today I got a lovely email – here it is:

“FAO:  Samantha Collett

I am delighted to announce that Samantha Collett has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2010 Landlord & Letting Awards in the following category/ies: Landlord of the Year By Region West Midlands

This year, we received over 4 times more entries across all categories than we did in 2009 and the judging panel had a very difficult time in whittling down all submissions to achieve the list of finalists, as all entries were of extremely high quality, so you should be extremely proud of yourself for reaching this stage.

Once again, many congratulations, and I wish you every success for the remainder of the judging process”

Well – I am chuffed! It’s fab to gain recognition for what you do

AND – the lovely Craig from Big Brother (who is also a landlord) will be hosting the event so I’m sure it will be fun!

Hotel booked – now I just have to get myself a glamorous new dress 🙂

Today I didn’t get out of the car to see a flat in Peckham

17 Sep

Today I saw a flat for sale in London with a guide of £80k. I knew 2 things at that point – either it was going to be really, really bad or it was a “come-and-buy-me-price” from the auctioneer. I checked on google maps before I left and saw it was in an ok area of Peckham.

And then I arrived and saw the flat:

Yes – I was in a concrete council sink estate

At this point you become 1 of 2 types of investors

1. Mad to buy – just imagine collecting rent arrears in a place like this!

2. Normal.

So I am normal – I stayed in my car (doors locked) looked out the window and took a few photos. Sometimes you have just got to know when a property is not worth looking at!

Today I got pulled by the police & narrowly escaped a police escort!

10 Sep

Today was a busy and full day of property viewings in London. Fortunately I’m a confident driver and so I enjoy driving around London – I know it will take twice as long as what the Sat Nav says because of all the traffic!

I was due to see a flat in Elephant and Castle and having seen where it was I realised I would have to pay the congestion charge….however I had a dastardly plan hatching!  The property was just a few minutes walk from a street where I reckoned I could park and just walk there.  And so off I set on my search for a parking space….driving around the streets I soon realised they were all permit parking….hmmmm.

My Sat Nav was chirping away in the background and at that moment I decided to take notice of it – it told me to turn right at the traffic lights – and so I did…



I was stranded in the middle of the road turning right, realising my mistake – but at the same time realising I had 2 lanes of traffic coming from the left into me….I did not want to be sandwiched!!!!!!

So I stamped on the accelerator as I spyed an opportunity to turn right and weave my way onto the right side of the road once I had got across….

Fine in theory…

Not so fine if you have a police car behind you….

So I make it to the other side manage to get on the right side of the road and I hear the siren and see the blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror…

Shit I am going to be late for this property viewing now!

I pull over immediately….but the police don’t get out – they keep signalling for me to move on

I then realise I have now broken yet another rule and have stopped on double red lines which mean NO STOPPING

Shit – what do I look like now?!

I drive a bit further, stop and get out of the car

“I am so, so sorry I was following the Sat Nav and it told me to turn right but I don’t think I was able to turn right and by the time I had realised I had so much traffic coming for me I thought the best thing was just to go”

It is a police man and a police woman – they look at me startled

“Where are you from?” They ask in unison

“Hertfordshire” I reply and I continue in my apologies “I’m ever so sorry, I just didn’t know what to do when I had realised the mistake and…”

They interrupt…

“You do know you were almost wiped out from the car behind you? He had to do a full emergency stop as he thought you going straight on, not right”

“No” I reply quietly

“We thought you were about to be wiped out” They look at me in amazement

“I am sorry” I reply again, “It was a stupid mistake”

I expect for them to breathalize me, see my documents, tell me I am being done for dangerous driving or something – and I deserve all of it. I made a stupid driving error.

They look at me sympathetically – “Where are you actually trying to go”

I give them the postcode and the address. They type it into their sat nav system and proceed to start giving me directions…they realise from my blank face I am not following…

“Look why don’t you hop in the car and we’ll give you a lift it’s not far – Janet (the police woman) can take your car and then you’ll be safely where you’re trying to get to” The male police man motions for me to get into the patrol car

I don’t want to sound ungrateful but I was MORTIFIED

a. How would this look – turning up at a property viewing in a police car – oh the shame and embarrassment!

b. What a terrible waste of police time – I am an idiot and they should be helping somebody else

I am hesitating….

Janet’s radio suddenly crackles

She turns to me “Sorry, we would love to take you, but we’ve got an emergency call. Drive safely”

With that, they jump into their patrol car and speed off into the traffic of London through sets of red lights with their sirens blaring and their lights flashing

God I am such a villager I say to myself as I shake my head and drive to the property…I will just pay that congestion charge!