Archive | March, 2013

Rarer Than A Pink Brick: Property Porn Under The Hammer

16 Mar

I LOVE property porn.

Salivating over big, beautiful houses amidst manorial splendour is a favourite past-time of mine.

But, alas “Jeeves, who’s at the door?” is a question I have yet to ask…

“Wow, there is a door!” is more my style with the sort of auction properties I tend to look at.

So given the usual, half-falling apart houses I am used to, I couldn’t help but feel a zing of excitement as these two beauties flashed onto my screen.  These are auction properties of such grandeur, glamour and gorgeousness that I just couldn’t help myself *mentally moving in* (and browsing the net for suitable furniture to adorn my new pad with).

And so I’ve rooted around in the bread bin for some crusts to feed the ducks, and now I’ll make my way to the ornamental pond via my very own roundabout and later on I’ll meet the girls at Sunningdale to pot a hole or two…

So join me in my moment of rare auction splendour – and dream and drool:

Peacock Manor, Billesley Lane, Alvechurch, Birmingham, West Midlands

Guide: £975k

Fabulous 5 bed residence, set in gardens, grounds and parkland of some 17 acres

An Arts & Craft influenced stylish country residence:

peacock manor

Benefiting from it’s own roundabout:

peacock manor

A kitchen which does NOT require refurbishment:

peacock manor

A stunning conservatory:

peacock manor

A music room:

peacock manor

A large, ornamental pond:

peacock manor

And a private tree-lined drive:

peacock manor

For more auction details: John Earle


Stratford House, London Road, Sunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire

Guide: £2.5m – £2.75m

Stunning 7 bed residence, set in beautifully landscaped gardens of 0.88 acres with views towards Sunningdale’s Ladies Golf Course.

An impressive period family home:

Stratford House

With a spacious kitchen/ diner:

Stratford House

Three seating areas, including cinema room:

Stratford HouseStratford HouseStratford House

A bathroom NOT in need of updating:

Stratford House

A south facing rear garden:

Stratford House

Views towards Sunningdale’s Ladies Golf Course:

Sunningdale golf course

For more auction details: London & Country




Raising Finance For A Property Auction Purchase

13 Mar

Raising finance to buy property at auction is a never ending nightmare.  To be blunt, it’s the reason why most people do NOT buy at auction.

If you successfully bid on the day you give a 10% deposit and exchange contracts.  Then 28 days later (sometimes 14 days) you have to come up with the rest of the dosh.

Which is where the lender comes in – as they are providing some of that “rest of dosh” to pay for the property sale completion.

raising finance for auction property

In theory, this should be quite straightforward. In theory.

To be honest 28 days (in my mind) is plenty of time for the valuer to visit the property and report back to the lender if the property is suitable security.  The solicitor then needs to do his various checks and bits and bobs (I am not a qualified solicitor so although I don’t really understand their various paper shuffling exercises, I do know it’s EXTREMELY important).  And then he in turn also reports to the lender.  And then the offer gets sent, gets accepted and funds are released.  In this age of instant banking, funds can be sent the same day.

In this day of “the internet” emails, reports and any sort of documentation can be sent instantly.

But for some reason everything takes a l-o-n-g time.

Which is why, if you are looking to buy a property at auction, and you need to raise finance, it is always best to have an application for finance (and preferably an offer) before you bid.

Because the fact is, for some unknown reason, valuers, banks and solicitors seem to do a whole load of unseen-yet-important-paper-shuffling-stuff before you get your monies released.

That means anything which may add to this, needs to be done beforehand so you do not add any more to the “unseen yet incredibly important paper shuffling” because otherwise you will most likely blow your chances of completing on time.

If you are thinking of buying property at auction and want to raise finance for the purchase – my advice: speak to a broker beforehand.  Submit a provisional application and get indicative terms of business and willingness to lend.  Where possible, it’s best practice (although will cost you more) submit a full application and get the property valued before auction and a mortgage offer in hand.

That way when you bid, you know you have the money to buy and the best chance of auction success!




Fancy Your Very Own Stately Home Restoration Nightmare?

11 Mar

Repossessed properties are common at auction – however, it’s not everyday you see a repossessed prestigious Stately Home!

‘Glynn Park’ in County Antrim is one of the most important houses in the Carrickfergus area, dating back to the 1600’s and offering a fantastic opportunity to “posh yourself up the property ladder!”

glynn park

This prestigious property, in need of modernisation, boasts a wealth of charm and character and will appeal to those who could inject the Georgian style and charm to reflect the character and history it once oozed.

Set on an elevated site of c.1 acre, the house extends to over 10,000 sq ft of accommodation. The entrance hall boasts an ornate and elegant staircase and double opening period doors which lead to the principal reception room, formal drawing room, dining room, games room and living room. In addition the ground floor offers a large kitchen/living/dining room with hardwood French Oak units and Aga, utility room. bathroom and access to basement cellar. Elegant cornicing detail, ornate fireplaces and original windows are special features of this Grade B2 listed house.

The bedroom accommodation is set over 2 floors and 7 bedrooms along with a guest annex (including bedroom, bathroom and kitchen) complete this along with 4 ensuites and a family bathroom, all with period style fittings.

An unexpected bonus is the recent addition of a swimming pool and changing area.

So if you’ve watched Sarah Beeny’s “Restoration Nightmare” on Rise Hall (also a Georgian Stately Home) and thought to yourself “I fancy a bit of that” here’s your chance!

Gynn Park’s original price tag of £525k has been cut to a measly guide price of just £270k and is being auctioned at Barnard Marcus in London




From Gas Governess to Lumberjack And Service Station Owner – It’s All Possible At Auction!

8 Mar

Like a shopaholic finding an original Gucci handbag in Poundland, a lot being sold NO RESERVE at auction is a property buyer’s wet dream.

Seriously No Reserve means just that: the property will sell for whatever someone is willing to pay for it – which could be – not a lot.

So I wanted to get to the auction where the seven lots with No Reserve may potentially sell for “not a lot” on the off chance of bagging a bargain.

Three bits of land had taken my fancy which were being sold by the Highways Agency.  This meant, for the most part, they were close to roads.  Which is a good thing because I seem to have got rather obsessed with the idea of owning some roads.  Admittedly, I’m a little short on ideas with what I would do with a road, so I think owning land next to a road is probably a better option.

So the first lot I fancied the look of was a scrap of land (0.062 acres) in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

sandy land for salesandy land for sale

It piqued my interest as there was a 99 year lease with Transco for their “Gas Governor Station” which was situated on the land.  I figured there would be some rental income – plus maybe even the future potential of redevelopment of the site.  That was until I realised the “Gas Governor Station” was in the way of any redevelopment ideas I may have had.  And then there was the small issue of the rent which Transco would be paying: one peppercorn per year.  Call me old fashioned, but I prefer pounds to peppercorns and so I decided to pass.

The next site I fancied was in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

ely land for saleely land for sale

Adjacent to the A10 and comprising a freehold site of 1.193 acres.  The land was mainly woodland – which for a tree-loving potential lumber jack such as myself – was right up my street (!).  I have no idea how to value woodland next to roads, so I decided a nice round figure of £5,100 would be my bid.  And as the bidding started at £50 I thought I may be in with a chance.

But, that was short lived.  The £50 soon jumped to £500 to £1000 and then eventually sold at £7,500.

So that left me with my “star lot” which I really did fancy: a freehold wooded site of 1.045 acres adjacent to the A1M in Stevenage.

stevenage land for salestevenage land for sale

Now for me, Stevenage is just down the road and beyond the obvious usage of this land as a personal garden extension where I could spend many happy evenings with a glass of wine and watching the traffic sail by, I also know the local council are under massive pressure to build more houses.

I know it’s speculative and a bit of a “bottom drawer” investment, but I decided – you never know…

And so I had done my research on the site and what I had noted was, besides access from the A1 (which is a major motorway to London) the site was in fact land-locked.  The bit where I would need access, if I was ever going to redevelop the land, needed access from the less major road.  But if you look closely, you will see a tiny strip of land is not included in the parcel of land for sale. (I have highlighted it yellow).  This is what is known as a “ransom strip” – because whoever owns that strip can hold you to ransom when you want to access your land!

stevenage land for sale


So I pondered some more.

And while sat in traffic on the A1 and gazing at (what I thought to be the piece of land) I happened upon what could be a “top idea”.  I decided I could build a mini-service station.  I could call it “Sam’s Services”.  I know it’s a long shot – but I thought “just maybe”.

I know the chances of success are pretty unlikely – however if redevelopment was possible – there could be some stunning rewards on offer.

So I decided my limit was my cash ISA for the year.  I didn’t do any fancy pants mathematical calculation – because in all honesty, this is a complete gamble.  £5640 was my bid limit.

I admit: it was a churlish bid limit.

Sam’s Services in Stevenage will not be opening in the near future:  it sold for £8,000.


TescoGate: How A Failed House Sale, 8 Hungarians, Lunch At Nando’s And Coffee At Tesco’s Got Me Full Asking Price

4 Mar

You knew it was too good to be true: accept an offer from a cash buyer and the sale completes one month later.

It didn’t happen…

So completion was set for the end of February.  Hatched had seen proof of funds for the cash purchase and a survey was being arranged by the buyer.

Solicitors details were exchanged and it seemed like all the “formalities of sale” were going ahead.  I replied to my solicitors inquiries with an endless ream of check boxes to tick, certificates and other paper paraphernalia to send to him “urgently”.

Hatched kept me informed of what the buyer was doing and what we were waiting for…which was the surveyor and all the concomitant bits of worthless paper he would e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y produce.

The surveyor took F**KING ages to visit.  I have no idea why it took so long, and I constantly harassed Hatched with requests for people to act quicker, work harder and meet the deadlines set.

And in the midst of all this, the “cash buyer” did the classic stunt (once they had shown proof of sufficient cash funds to buy the house and get the offer accepted).  They then turned round and claimed their mortgage advisor had informed them they “should buy the property with a mortgage to take advantage of the good BTL deals available at the moment”.

Needless to say, I hit the ROOF.  What had happened to my cash buyer and promise of a quick completion?

Hatched gave me a healthy dose of “Verbal Valium” and calmed by their words I kept my mouth shut, agreed there might be a slight delay on the completion date and waited for the surveyor.

So the surveyor finally got to the property and at this point the house had been off the market for almost two weeks. I was not a happy bunny with what was happening, but I consoled myself with the prospect that if the buyer was getting a surveyor round, they were spending money and so were “committed” to the process.

Of course, what I didn’t bank on was the surveyor, quite frankly, visiting a DIFFERENT house and writing a survey about that house.  There is no other explanation for the report which I then got sent a copy of.

Amongst a list of ridiculous allegations was:

– The property has damp and the public footpath will need digging up to rectify the situation.  Firstly, the property has NO damp, nor any signs of damp and I have no understanding why a public footpath would have to be dug up to rectify a damp problem (which there isn’t) at my property.

– The kitchen cabinets require adjustment.  I am not sure what sort of “adjustment” BRAND NEW kitchen cupboards require given they have recently been fitted by a qualified carpenter.

– The property requires rewiring.  At this I went BALLISTIC and almost hurled my laptop out of the window.  What eyes does this surveyor have in his head?  Who’s house did he inspect?  I have just re-wired the property to the latest 17th Edition at considerable expense.  And I have also sent all the paperwork and building regulation compliance to the solicitor.


Of course, none of this mattered.

Because the fact was, the survey was about to be used as “leverage” (well, this is my version of events).

A lot of umming and arrhing then happened.

Hatched liaised with the buyer about the results of the survey (which I vehemently disagreed with) and desperately tried to placate me (and find a middle ground) by convincing me to send a damp expert to get an independent opinion of the “alleged damp” which involved, for it’s eradication, the rather odd claim of digging up the public footpath.

To say I was “unhappy” would be putting it mildly.

And then the next stunt: The buyer (one day after the anticipated completion date) then reduced their offer on the property to still buy it cash.

My reply: “They can go *swivel*.  Put the property back on the market and stop wasting my time”

And I hung up.

I had started the week badly by losing my dream property at auction so it was rather fitting to end such a week by now losing the buyer of my property.

And then the phone started ringing again.

It was Hatched.  Again.

I didn’t particularly want to speak to them.  There was not much to say.  I was not going to be convinced to go back with this buyer.

But actually, they were not calling me about the by-now-swivelling-buyer.


They had done as instructed and made the house available on the market.  And I was bombarded with viewing requests.  At this point, I hadn’t even had a chance to call the high street estate agents to put the house back on the market.

I informed Hatched I would do the viewings the next day (Saturday) between 1pm and 1.30pm as this fitted in well with the other half and I’s anticipated lunch at Nando’s (conveniently situated close by, but not too close to the house – and you know, I am such a cheap date!).

So the first viewers turn up – there are EIGHT of them.  They are a Hungarian couple who are looking to buy their first house and have brought along both sets of parents and siblings to view what they anticipate to be the ‘house of their dreams’.  It was. My house was their dream house.  They were positively climaxing in my kitchen.  I was in awe.

They offered to buy the house right there and then in the kitchen.

Delighted by their offer and pleased to hear they already had a mortgage agreed, I agreed their offer.

CUE: Knocking on the front door.

The next viewers have arrived.

The other half has to accompany them around the property as I am still trying to manage the excitement of the Hungarians in the kitchen.

The next viewers also love the house and they tell me to my face.  They are also in a strong position having sold their house and currently renting while they find a house to buy – which they indicated to be mine.

I am about to show them the “rear south facing sun trap of a garden” when the Hungarians rush back into the property (who I had escorted off the property just some moments before).

The Hungarians are IN LOVE and they have returned to tell me how much they LOVE the property and how much they want to BUY it.

I explain I am happy for them to buy it and I am sure we can organise the deal.

But really, right now – we have an appointment with Nandos.

So we get to Nando’s.

It’s a Saturday lunchtime so it’s rammed full of texting teenagers and families with small crying children. And us.

My phone rings.  I can see from the number it’s Hatched.  I have a mouthful of chicken but I figure I better answer as they will want to know about the deal I have agreed with the Hungarians.

But it’s another offer!  The other viewers also LOVE the house and want to buy it as well!

Hmm.  “Olivia” I say “I have a face full of chicken right now which does not appear to be the best way to negotiate – can I call you in 5 minutes?”

“OK” She replies, “You eat your chicken and I’ll just call the buyers and inform them there’s competition and they need to offer more..”

“OK” I agree

Five minutes later she calls me again: “You have a full asking price offer from the second viewers.  I don’t think the Hungarians understand they now have to offer more and the price you agreed with them is no longer enough”.

“Oh” I reply, imagining how crestfallen the Hungarians would be.

Then my phone rings again – the Hungarians are confused why the price they have agreed with us is no longer enough.  Trying to explain the house buying and offer system of the UK is getting me nowhere.

So I arrange to meet the Hungarians in Tesco’s cafe.  In my defence, it is around the corner from Nando’s (I know this story just keeps giving!).

Wiping the chicken juice from our faces we make our way to Tesco’s cafe.  The Hungarians are sat there expectantly waiting for us.  We explain to them as nicely as possible that while we would love for them to buy the house and bring up their family there, we have now been offered more money for the property and so they need to pay more if they want it.

That sounds like a pretty easy thing to do?


We are met with a table full of dismayed faces and tears pricking in eyes.  Many eyes.  Many tear pricks.

I cannot fall for this.  I cannot do such raw human emotion.  I am absolutely overwhelmed by their desire to live in my property, but this is business.  I must remain strong, business-like and well, business-like.

So I get up and say: “You talk about it, and we’ll go and buy a coffee”.  At which point I grab the other half and we make our way to the queue for coffee.

We are in the queue when the other half suddenly freezes and turns to me very slowly: “Don’t turn around now, but our other buyer who has offered full price is sat just behind the Hungarians”.

I stand and stare at him.  Open mouthed, I just catch a glimpse of the other buyer sat two tables away from the Hungarians.

What do we do??” we both whisper to each other at the same time, while ducking behind the cappucino machine.

We look at each other open mouthed.  WTF?!

We deliberate on making a quick exit and soon realise that’s very “unbusiness-like” – plus we’re not going to be able to make it to the “escape escalator” without the Hungarians seeing us…

We both take a deep breath, put our heads down and return with our coffee to sit with the Hungarians who are still talking and making numerous phone calls.

My phone rings.  It’s Hatched.

“Sam, are you in Tesco’s cafe with the Hungarians?”

“Yes” I yelp

“Your other buyer is also at Tesco’s cafe and has just called me to find out what is going on as you are at Tesco’s cafe with the Hungarians and she is sat two tables away from you”

“I know” I admit uncomfortably.

“How has this happened, what are you doing” Olivia demands.

“Well, I, er…I was just trying to explain about the offer system and how they need to pay more…” I trail off. I can tell Olivia thinks I have lost the plot.

“Right” she exclaims, sounding more in control “I will explain to your other buyer what you are doing with the other buyers at Tesco’s cafe.  Although I have got to wonder what are you all doing at Tesco’s cafe?”.

“I don’t know…I have never come to the cafe before, it just happened to be close to Nando’s” I reply, not understanding why Tesco’s cafe had now become the centre of the universe for property deals.

*Super awkward* sums up the next few moments.

I don’t know whether I am to acknowledge the other buyer by giving a little wave, or if that may be misconstrued and they may think I am giving them the finger, or being off-hand.  I just don’t know what to do.  And so I do nothing.  Nothing is the best plan of attack when you haven’t got a clue what to do.

So we continue talking with the Hungarians who are still making copious phone calls and looking increasingly anxious.

Then the father finishes what looks to have been an important phone call and faces us triumphantly.

“We will pay you asking price as well” he shouts, eager with excitement.

I speak with Hatched again, we agree that both offers will be considered and on Monday their in-house financial advisor will look at the strength of both offers to enable us to make the final decision with who to proceed.

So today is the day…

The other buyer has called Hatched wanting to know what is happening and why they didn’t get the VIP treatment of coffee at Tesco’s cafe.

And we ummed and we arrhhed.

And we knew either way we would disappoint someone.

But at the end of the day, we had to do what was best for us – we had to choose the buyers who we believed to be in the best position.

And that means we have upset the Hungarians.  We have gone with the other buyer (who we didn’t woo at Tesco’s) but I guess they get a new house now – which has got to be better than a coffee from Tesco’s cafe!