Archive | October, 2012

Mistaken For An Estate Agent – And I LIKED It!!!

30 Oct

So you may remember I renovated a property recently and put it on the market for sale.

And…you may also remember I am currently conducting a real life experiment of selling the property with a High Street Estate Agent Vs. an Online Estate Agent.

Now, the idea of an online estate agency has always appealed to me – the savings are HUGE – and all you have to do is the property viewings – which is very little work for a mammoth saving.


What I didn’t bargain for was how NERVOUS and EXCITED I would be doing my own property viewings.  Me – myself doing the property viewings – I would be like – well, I would be like an estate agent! Yes, an estate agent may be one of the most hated professions in the UK – but the thought – the idea of me doing the viewings and showing my own house for sale was deliciously tantalising…

And I took it very seriously…

So seriously I had to have my entire wardrobe out to find “appropriate-showing-people-around-my-house-for-sale-clothing”

I refused to bow to the archetypal suit and tie beloved by so many estate agents – but I was worried that the casual look of jeans may be taken as *too* casual – maybe even bordering on slovenly.  And so after several try-outs, I settled on a pair of beige skin tight trousers and a black jumper – topped off with knee high leather boots.  Admittedly, that may sound a bit hooker-style – but I like to think I looked “urban casual”.

And I was on tenterhooks…

I called the potential buyers-of-my-house (I wish!) an hour before the scheduled appointment to check they were still OK for the appointment, knew where they were going, didn’t have any delays and had my number to call me should they have any last minute issues.

I could tell from the lady’s voice this was an unexpected call.  And I got the distinct impression no previous estate agents had bothered to call her prior to an appointment to check she was still OK for it and knew the way there.  Of course, that could be because as the home owner (and person selling the property) – I REALLY do care that you know the way there and you will be arriving!

So I arrive at the property 10 minutes before the appointment.  I turn on all the lights (it was just starting to get dark and I wanted the house to look friendly and welcoming) and quickly gather up flyers from around the letter box.

I check around to make sure everything is as it should be and then I decide to go and find them outside.  I decide that I shouldn’t do the estate agent “thang” of hovering around the door – I’ll just march on down to the parking area and collect them and guide them round for the tour of the property.

Just as I go outside they are parking – I wave excitedly as though I am welcoming long lost relatives to my home hungry for some sustenance after a long drive.

Having parked up and introduced myself, I walk them to the property all ready to tell them how popular and quiet the area is when…


I don’t know where the dogs are, I can’t see them, but I can hear them *loud and clear* – there are lots of them.  And I can tell my viewers are hesitant about the impending arrival of a pack of dogs to savage our little legs.  And so my wonderful introduction to the area gets a little lost as we quicken our pace to get to the safety of the property.

Now my viewers are a lovely couple.  They are not local, but the lady is a very clever lady and has just been offered a senior post at the hospital which is located just a mile down the road, and having sold their property in Essex they are looking to buy…they are MOTIVATED buyers!  I am so excited by this news that I cannot contain myself – I am gushing about this, enthusing about that – to be honest – I think I was an embarrassment to myself.  In fact, I may have even been *drooling*.  Even the lovely lady buyer was taken aback by my excitement at her good fortune.

But I felt BLESSED.

Here I am wanting to sell my property…and here they are wanting to buy a property – well you can’t say better than that! (well apart from the fact I want them to buy MY property).

Anyway, so I am taking them on a tour of the property and I realise they are normal people.  They are more reserved and conservative than me. And I hate to admit it, but I suddenly realise I am like an excited puppy jumping up and down on their leg to welcome them in.

So I take a step back and I decide to be more “professional” – I decide to still be excited – but perhaps more like an older Labrador who has seen people before and just smiles in pleasantness at the additional company in the house.

But, I am desperate for feedback – I desperately want to know what they think.

But, they’re not giving much away.

Even in the kitchen they look around and are quiet and thoughtful.  Even my Neff range and bright orange glass splashback don’t get a mention…in fact, I am disappointed to see the husband is taking more interest in the grout in the tiles, than he is in the actual size and layout of the kitchen.

However, I refuse to be beat.

I continue unabated on my grand tour, trying where I could to try and elicit some sort of response – but instead I am met with mainly quiet smiles.  Not very forthcoming indeed!

Maybe, I think to myself…they don’t want to give too much away because they know I am the owner and don’t want to offend me?

Hmm..what to do, I ponder.

We go out to the garden again where my boisterous puppy returns and I find myself tripping over myself to tell them how wonderful an end of terrace is, how wonderfully private it is and how quiet it is (the dogs have shut up now!).

And at that point (maybe it was me telling them how private the garden is) that they start to open up.  They tell me how nicely maintained the property is, how everything is new and they wouldn’t have to do anything, how it’s good to have the extra potential bedroom but without the price tag of a 4 bedroom and they agree with me on how quiet it is (phew!)

They then tell me they like the property (my property), and that they didn’t like the other properties they had seen.  However, they have more properties to see – and was it me that was also taking them to the next appointment?

“No” I reply hesitantly “that will be a different person”

Oh, but…” the lady replies, looking at me quizzically “You work for Hatched don’t you? And this next property is also on with your agency – are you not going to show us that as well – it’s just round the corner”

At that moment I am a bit stuck.  The couple think I am an estate agent.  And I am momentarily stunned.  Just what do I say?

And so I reply “Well…that property….that property….it’s being dealt with by a different office.”

Is This £6k Flat Worth The 60 Per Cent Rental Yield?

29 Oct

I LOVE property auction bargains.

Some would say I am *addicted*

And I cannot deny I love the thrill of feeling I am getting bargain.  But, I know I am not alone – I know you all feel the same.  It’s that inner pleasure of “smugness” when you buy something for less than what it’s worth.  It’s such a tantalising buzz…

So when I wrote the other day about a 1 bed flat in Liverpool going to auction with a ridiculously low guide price of £6k I just couldn’t help myself.  I just had to know more.

To remind you here is the property in question:

It’s a one bed flat of 40 square metres on a long leasehold.

Now, I am not familiar with Liverpool, but I have to say, even for my lack of local knowledge £6k for this flat sounded cheap.

And so I called my Liverpool Expert to find out more.

This is how the conversation went:

Me: “I have seen this property in an area of Liverpool which I am not familiar with, but I wondered if you could shed some light on the area, and what your thoughts are for future rental and resale, I’ll just send you the details now”

(Email pings over)

Liverpool expert: “Oh, right….” Uncomfortable silence.  “Are you really serious about this area?”

Me: “Listen, I know it’s going to be rough, it’s just the property is cheap – and I mean cheap

Liverpool expert: “OK, the area is well known for being a really rough area – and I mean rough. Most people there have got ASBOs, there’s massive crime, it’s filled with hoodies, youth crime and knives.  While you would probably get a rent of around £300 per month it would only be DSS or more likely a drug dealer. The F.T.M graffiti – that means F**k The Matrix – which is the police. It kind of typifies the area and the sort of people you’re dealing with”

Me: “Well, I guess that would explain the low price”

Liverpool expert: “How low?”

Me: “6 grand”

Liverpool expert: “WHAT? What did you say – 6 grand? Are you for real? Are you kidding? 6 grand for a 1 bed flat? Are you sure?”

Me: “Well, that is the guide – obviously it’s a property auction so will go for whatever price someone is willing to pay, but what do you think of that?”

Liverpool expert: “6 grand!!!!!!!!!!!! That is CRAZY – that is so LOW!”

Me:So would you buy it?”

Liverpool expert: “I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s *worth* it”

Me: “But, you just said it was SOOO cheap and agreed with the £300 rental – even if it is DSS or a drug dealer”

Liverpool expert: “Yes, but it’s the sort of area and the sort of people you would have to deal with. PAUSE AND DEEP SIGH. I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle…I just don’t know who you would ever sell it to – who would willingly buy a property in that area.  Are you thinking of viewing it?”

Me: “After what you’ve just told me about the area – not a chance – I value my life too much! 

But still my curiosity was piqued – what sort of person willingly buys a property in an area as bad as this?

So I got the auction legal pack.

And I discover that the flats were built just 6 years ago and in 2006 somebody paid £70k for the flat.  Yes, the same flat which now has a guide price of £6k was bought for £70k just 6 years ago – which is a pretty catastrophic market price correction!

But what sort of person would willingly buy a property in an area like this?

I can tell you.

A criminal.

It’s all there in black and white on the title deeds: the property has a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  The purpose of a Restraint Order is to preserve assets which have been acquired with the proceeds of crime so that they are available to satisfy any Confiscation Order which may be made at the end of criminal proceedings.  Which means this has been proven to be a “Criminal Property” – and it’s even registered at Land Registry.

So despite the incredible yield, I won’t be buying this flat at auction – but I am interested to see who does buy it.  Maybe I should go to the auction just to see…



Does Cheap Property Make A Good Property Investment?

26 Oct

Today I have been struck by the inordinate amounts of cheap property going to auction.

And when I say cheap – I mean cheap. I mean so cheap you could buy it with a credit card – Hell, you could probably even buy it with Tesco Clubcard points!

Take for example, this one bed flat which is going for sale in Liverpool.  It has a guide price of just £6k.  I mean, I know people say it’s rough up North – but 6k – that sounds like it’s GOT to be rough!

Admittedly the photograph does it little justice – but it’s got a roof, it’s got walls…and it may even have some glass behind those security shutters.

Research suggests you might even be able to rent it for around £300pcm – which is an incredible yield.  Of course, that assumes you will find someone who wants to rent it and who will actually pay you the rent – but these are just details.

But how important is the detail?

If a property is cheap enough, is it worth buying just because it’s cheap?

I remember the stories of old, when people used to talk of buying entire streets in Northern towns, towns where you could buy entire streets for the equivalent of a pint of milk.  Houses that were so cheap you couldn’t even give them away!

I’ve never seen these fabled cheap streets, but I do remember in 2004 when I was thinking of buying property in Burnley and the other half stopped me.  He said I wasn’t to buy the s**t there even if it was £7,000 per house.  I was really annoyed with him at the time – especially more when just a few years later I could have sold that very same house, in the very same condition for £40k.

Of course that was during the boom years, otherwise known as the bubble.

Property prices are nowhere near £40k per house – but still you’d probably have to pay at least £15k for one of these trashed Burnley houses at auction nowadays, so it hasn’t dropped quite as much as what you would think.

Which got me thinking: Does cheap property make a good property investment?

Is there a point at which you say – that is just sooooo cheap I have to buy it, just for the sake of the cheap price tag – or do the details (the little details like rental/ resale and all that other investment malarky) really matter so much more than a cheap price tag?

And then I saw this chapel for sale in Wales for £22k.

I love chapels and with such a cheap price tag I couldn’t help myself but start to wonder…of course, it doesn’t have planning and will cost a fortune to convert…but at just £22k…how wrong can you go?

And then just a few lots later in the same catalogue I saw another Chapel for sale, in fact it’s just a few miles away from Chapel 1.  This one has already been converted to 4 flats – so the planning and much of the work has been done for you.

And the guide price for this converted chapel: £55k.

Admittedly, the converted chapel is £33k more than the unconverted chapel, but seriously, £33k isn’t even going to touch the sides in terms of conversion costs for a building of this size.

And then I wondered if a cheap price tag on a property is actually a red herring – because I couldn’t help but notice the converted chapel was a repossession.  And I couldn’t help but wonder if it had been the stratospheric conversion costs which had bled the former owners dry?

And surprisingly – the £6k flat in Liverpool – that’s also a repossession.

Which really makes me wonder: Does cheap property make a good property investment?

Property Auction Round Up: Car Parks For Sale

22 Oct

When I previously wrote about buying a town centre car park for sale I had no idea of the huge interest in investing in this area of the market.

Since then, I have been flooded with requests for more information about car parks for sale.  Now, I have to hold my hands up – I am not a car park expert – however I feel I should do my bit for all of you who are interested in buying and investing in a car park for sale.

So here is my auction round up of car parks for sale in the UK.  All car parks are being sold at upcoming property auctions shortly.  I have provided details of the auctioneers, so if you are interested – please contact the auctioneer direct.

Lastly, I would love to hear of any car park success stories – so if you do get lucky – please do share your story 🙂

Happy bidding!

Former Car Park at Brunswick Street, Luton, LU2 0DF

Guide: £60,000+

Auctioneer: Allsop (lot 27)

car park for sale

A Freehold Former Car Park extending to Approximately 0.068 Hectares (0.169 Acres). The Property affords Possible Development Potential subject to obtaining all necessary consents

BY ORDER OF Luton borough council




The property is situated on the south side of Brunswick Street to the west of its junction with Back Street. A range of local shops are available close by on High Town Road with the further and more extensive amenities and shopping facilities of Luton town centre also being situated close by. Rail services run from Luton Station and both the A6 and A505, which provides access to the M1 Motorway, are close by. London Luton International Airport is also located within easy reach as are the open spaces of Stockwood Park.


The property comprises a roughly rectangular site extending to approximately 0.068 hectares (0.169 acres).
The property slopes gently down towards Back Street, is hardstanding and is currently arranged as a pay and display car park with 21 marked out spaces. The property affords potential for development subject to obtaining all necessary consents.


Site Area: Approximately 0.068 Hectares (0.169 Acres)


Car Park and Garages at Bishopswood Road, Tadley, Hampshire, RG26 4HQ

Guide: £10,000+

Auctioneer: Romans (lot 11)

  • Road, forecourt & garages
  • Residential area
  • Good letting investment

An area of land including a forecourt, parking spaces and garages providing potential for the erection of further garages – great letting potential.


The site can be viewed at any reasonable time.


* High density residential area * Good access to Tadley centre * Good access to M3 and M4


* Roadway and garage forecourt * 8 parking spaces comprising 4 garages and 4 vacant parking spaces * Rental investment opportunity


Freehold with vacant possession


Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – 01256 844 844


Oates Street Car Park, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, WF13 1BB

Guide: £170,000-£200,000

Auctioneer: Pugh Auctions (lot 104)

part vacant freehold car park investment producing £22,000 per annum


The site is located on Oates Street in Dewsbury town centre. Oates Street is accessed via Daisy Hill and Union Street.


The site comprises a tarmac surfaced car park which is mainly rectangular in shape. The car park is currently configured to provide 31 designated bays. The site is bounded by stone curbing on all sides.

Site Area

Approximately 700 sq m (837 sq yds).




We understand the car park is currently producing a gross income of approximately £22,000 per annum. There are long standing agreements in place on approximately 22 of the 31 spaces. However, there are no written contracts and the agreements are made on informal terms. If the vacant spaces were let on terms similar to those currently occupied the Vendor informs us that the car park could produce an income of approximately £35,000.


Freehold Car Park, Chapel Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 5DA

Guide: £TBC

Auctioneer: Allsop (lot 193)

Site area approximately 0.074 Hectares (0.183 Acres)
Subject to a Tenancy
Possible Development Potential subject to obtaining all necessary consents. On the instructions of J Gershinson FRICS and L Brooks MRICS of Allsop LLP acting as Joint Fixed Charge Receivers




The property is situated on the east side of Chapel Street to the south of its junction with Victoria Street. An extensive range of local amenities and shopping facilities are readily accessible in Luton town centre. Rail services run from Luton Station and both the A6 and A505 which provides access to the M1 Motorway are close by. London Luton International Airport is also located within easy reach as are the open spaces of Stockwood Park.


The property comprises a broadly rectangular site extending to approximately 0.074 hectares (0.183 acres). The property is hardstanding and is currently used as a permit holder’s car park which is stepped to provide parking over two levels for approximately 20 vehicles. The property may afford potential for development subject to obtaining all necessary consents.


Site Area Approximately 0.074 Hectares (0.183 Acres)


The Receivers understand that the property is subject to 22 car parking licences at a licence fee of £500 per annum each (totalling approximately £11,000 per annum). The Receivers do not hold copies of the licences and the terms are unknown. There are a total of 25 possible car parking spaces at the property.

If you want to read more about the latest property I bought (and my renovation diary!) please read: Diary of a Property Renovation

Here I write about my real life experiment of selling the property Online vs. a high street estate agent

And also, I have an update here on the best way to sell a property: Online vs. High street estate agents

Fancy A Holiday Home Of Titanic Proportions?

19 Oct

You know the story – everybody wants to come and stay at the same time and there is never enough space – and never enough bedrooms for everybody…

Well how about Bryn Mel Manor on the Isle of Anglesey?

Offering 39 bedrooms, plus ancillary accommodation- this impressive stone manor house built in 1889 should have more than enough space for when your family and friends come to stay!


Ideally long in build to make the most of the sea views across the Menai Strait- the property is topped off in it’s fairytale-esque presentation with turrets at either end.

Internally, Bryn Mel Manor (which was formerly used as a care home) still retains many beautiful and original period features, including wood panelling, decorative ceiling plasterwork and fireplaces.

Externally the property offers 3.5 acres of secluded formal and informal grounds.

But the beauty of this Titanic sized property is not just it’s temptingly low guide price of £750,000…but it’s also it’s family tree – it’s provenance – because this property was built by the owners of the White Star Shipping Line – the owners of the Titanic, as the family’s holiday home.