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    Somerset West, South Africa

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  1. Now dropped from almost £500K to £360K. Not so extreme kite flying...
  2. There is no harm making a £140K offer to the builder. They are in business to sell houses and they will want to off-load it. They probably won't want to sell for much below what they paid for, but you don't know what they paid as it isn't coming up on the LR. They will probably have a minimum figure they will sell for and will tell you this if they don't accept your offer. When negotiating with builders they sometimes accept lower offers at the end of the month (or towards the end of the quarter), as the sales people have targets to meet. They may take a slightly lower offer just to make their quarterly figures look good. August is a slow month for house sales (kids on holiday etc) and if they haven't found a buyer by the end of September then they know they could be stuck with the house until the following Spring.
  3. Keep advertising your house and hopefully you will find another buyer. I accepted an offer from a cash buyer and they pulled out on me last July, after they decided that my bungalow was too small for them so I know how depressing this is! Fortunately I didn't have another house lined up to buy (as I'm emigrating to South Africa). If thinking of taking out a BTL mortgage and renting out your old house then you need to do some research. What monthly rental can be achieved? Multiply this by 11 (allowing for 1 month unoccupied per year) and then take this figure and divide it by the current value. Is this annual rental yield above 6%? If not, you are probably better going all out to find another buyer. Things are traditionally slow in August, as people are more concerned with looking after the kids during the summer break and arranging holidays etc. After the last aborted deal last year I didn't receive any offers until July this year when 2 people made an offer in the same week. I have signed the exchange documents and I'm just waiting for the buyer's to do the same!
  4. I would be more concerned about the insulation and damp proofing if a garage was converted into a kitchen. Garages just have brick walls with no cavity. Also houses have a damp-proof membrane but do garages? (I'm not a builder so not sure) I would be wanting answers to these questions: Has the bare brick just been plastered or have they added some internal insulation between the brick if they have plasterboarded it? Has any additional insulation been added in the walls/ceiling/floor? Is there a damp proof membrane? Also garage floors are at ground level, but the house floor is usually higher than ground level. Do you step down into the kitchen or is the flooring level with the rest of the house?
  5. Yes, this is to do with money laundering regulations. They usually ask for 2 forms of ID - usually passport or photo driving licence and a recent utility bill. This is to confirm you are who you say you are. Sellers of houses have to do the same thing!
  6. You could also have a look on Zoopla. Go to "Home value" and put in the required postcode. If there is any historic data, you will see a little red and white "H" icon. Click on that and it will show you an archived ad for that house (either a sale or rental). I think this goes back 4 or 5 years, so you might see some neighbouring properties that have archived sales or rental ads.
  7. This is a very small part of the UK...and when did PE2 become the centre of the universe?
  8. And this is non-standard construction. I don't think lenders would give a mortgage to buy this.
  9. £445,000 This is isn't listed as a semi-detached, but as a detached. I don't know how the EA got away with calling it a detached, as it is actually an end terraced house (as it is attached to the 5 almshouses that you can see on the right). End of terrace To be fair it is a small village with only 3 houses on the market. A 2 bed semi bungalow for £235K and a 4 bed detached at £685K.
  10. We were selling to the builder "as is" and not paying him to install the kitchen and bathroom. The back garden was also a mess, as we got 4 tonnes of topsoil to fill in 2 large koi ponds (and this wasn't even enough to completely fill them). The builder told us to leave the garden. After he pulled out he hit us with a bill for his work (although we only paid him half of the bill). We then still needed to decorate the house, landscape the rear garden and fully paint the outside of the house. The builder was getting a bargain at £200K, but he couldn't afford to buy it. Him and his wife were getting a divorce and he was buying the house for the ex-wife. In the end the wife bought a 1 bed bungalow. The £220K offer was halfway through the doing the renovations. The kitchen and bathroom had been installed, but the house needed some minor plastering and decoration carried out internally. The garden and exterior of the house had not been painted by then. The £230K offer was after the rooms had been plastered and painted. The exterior was painted and the rear garden was landscaped. So you are not comparing like for like. Even at £235K this bungalow is still cheaper than the 2 nearest bungalows. One is a smaller bungalow (in a bigger village 3 miles away) on a smaller plot with no view and this is on at £240K. The other one is a slightly bigger bungalow on the same sized plot with a countryside view in a small village 3 miles from us and this is advertised at £290K. Price isn't the problem for us selling this house - nobody has said that it is too expensive. We must have had it priced right at OIEO £230K when we had 3 cash buyers viewing and 2 of them submitting an offer. Most of the people buying the bungalows are retired people who are downsizing. Most of the people who don't like the place say that it is too rural (in a small village with around 100 houses and no shops).
  11. I tried to sell my house privately, but it wasn't that easy! Initially I "sold" it to the builder across the road who I got in to refit the kitchen and bathroom. He asked me how much I wanted on the 3rd day of work. I said to make me an offer and he said he would give me £200K. This was a bit below market value, but I accepted because I didn't need to advertise, get a HIP or pay EA fees. He initially said the offer was unconditional - buying our house was not dependant on him selling his place. He later said he needed to sell his place, so we waited for him to sell his place. Finally he sold his place but he didn't get as much as he thought AP was £325K and he accepted £292.5K. He pulled out of the deal in late August 2009. I then advertised privately on Gumtree, Tepilo and any other free websites that I found. I also advertised with an on-line EA that got me on Rightmove and Primelocation for £295 up-front fee. "Sold" my house again via the on-line EA in October 2009 to a retired couple for £220K. They were in a chain and needed to sell their house to buy our bungalow. Their buyer then pulled out and the chain collapsed. I was advertising the house in local newsagents, had a "for sale" sign made up, had magnetic for sale signs advertising the bungalow on both our cars. I also made my own website to advertise the house. I also placed 2 adverts in the property section of the local newspaper. Between August 2009 and April 2010 all this advertising produced: EA via Rightmove - 4 viewers and 1 offer. For sale sign - 1 viewer Vehicle signs - 2 or 3 enquiries, but no viewers Free websites - around 5 enquiries and 2 appointments. 1 viewer and 1 no show. 1 person wanted to rent our bungalow. Local paper and newsagents - No response I then landscaped the rear garden and got 2 EAs up to value the place in April 2010. Both EAs said to market it around £230K to achieve £225-230K. Picked the EA we got along with and he put the place on at OIEO £230K in May 2010. He found 5 viewers including 3 cash buyers. 1 person viewed our place twice along with another place, but they bought the other place. 1 cash buyer didn't like our place. The other 2 cash buyers made us an offer. 1st offered £220K which we refused and they increased to £222.5K. 2nd cash buyer loved our place and offered £230K which we accepted. The people then decided our bungalow was too small after 2 weeks and pulled out of the deal. By now it is the end of July 2010 - the EA contacted the 1st cash buyer again, but they won't respond to his calls. Changed EAs to another small EA in the next village who specialises in rural property in August. They suggest to market at £235K to achieve £230K. They have 4 viewing requests, but only had 2 viewers 1 no show and 1 cancellation. Perhaps we have just been unlucky, but we didn't manage to sell privately. The EAs get more people through the doors, but even they couldn't secure a sale. I think most of our target market (retired people) don't use the internet to search the free house websites to look for property. The people who made enquiries via the free websites were young couples who wanted to trade up from a flat.
  12. Keeping your original house to rent out seems to give a reasonable return. £500 per month rent on a £80K house is 7.5% gross yield. As for houses, option 1 is a "safe" option but I'm not keen on new houses (in England they have tiny gardens). I would be interested in option 2 as long as I had the time/money to renovate it. Option 3 is something I have always wanted to do personally, but I could never get the numbers to stack. I used to buy self-building magazines and looked for plots near me. All the plots were too expensive once you took building costs into consideration. I think it would cost you around £80 per sqft to build a house up in Lanarkshire. I'm assuming labour rates are still much less than down in England. So a 1000sqft detached house could be £80K. This isn't a huge house. BTW, do you know what is the floor area of the new build? I bet the red sandstone house is a large house on a decent plot.
  13. I agree about 1980s (especially late 80s) houses being terrible. They tend to have have small rooms (my flat had smaller rooms than some new builds today), plasterboard walls and some of them were still had tiny single glazed windows. My 1980s flat even had Economy 7 storage heaters. The kitchen and bathroom was really cheap - I ripped them out and upgraded them with 10 years. All houses have their advantages and disadvantages. I personally like late 60/early 70s houses because they have large windows and let in plenty of light. The one I bought has solid internal walls and a concrete floor. One problem with older houses is they sometimes used asbestos soffits and facias, but I had the asbestos removed by a specialist team before having the new uPVC soffits and fascias fitted. House are like everything else - they need regular maintenance in order to keep them from falling down. There are several 400 year old houses in our village and the next village. These are still here because their owners have maintained their structure over the years.
  14. Heating oil always goes up in Winter due to increased demand, so people shouldn't be surprised at the high prices now. Some dealers are taking advantage of the increased demand and loading their prices now (70p per litre as opposed to 40p when I filled up). All you need to do is make sure you have enough oil to see you through the Winter - it isn't rocket science! If your oil tank is correctly sized for the house, a full tank will store around 1 year of heating oil. My tank stores just over 1000 litres and I find I do use around 1000l of fuel per year. I always try to fill my tank in May, when there is reduced demand. Because of the reduced demand, heating oil is normally a bit cheaper then.
  15. I live in a small village in NW Essex. There were 4 houses for sale over the Summer. Substantial 5 bed detached with large rear garden overlooking farmland. On the main road through the village. This was the former village pub, so no garage - just ORP for 4 cars at front of house. Asking price £589K 3 bed detached Victorian cottage on small plot. On the main road through the village. Asking price £329K 2 bed semi-bungalow on a 110ftx38ft plot in a cul-de-sac. Views over farmland to rear. Asking price offers over £230K Substantial 4 bed detached on 0.75acres. Although facing main road, the garden is walled and the house sits well back from the road. Farmland views to rear. Initial price was £775K House 1 sold within 2 months of coming up for sale. The EA told me offer price was £579K. This wasn't a bad price and the house offered loads of space for the money. The seller of house 1 bought a house in the next village 1 mile down the road. House 2 also sold within 2 months. The seller of house 2 bought house 1. Don't know what it sold for. I'm the owner of house 3. I advertised and sold it privately in 2009, but the deal fell through on both occasions. The first person couldn't afford it and the second was in a chain that collapsed. I decided to put it with an EA in May 2010 and the EA gets 5 people to view including 3 cash buyers. 1 cash buyer offers £220K in June - we reject it and they increase to £222.5K. We reject that and it and they walk away. 2nd cash buyer offers £230K in July, which we accept. They are living with their Son and want us to move out within 7 weeks. We say no problem, but they then pulled out after 2.5 weeks! They decided the house was too small for them and had made an offer on a bigger bungalow 40 miles away. Changed EA and new EA said we were lucky to get full asking, as people just look at the price and automatically expect to take money off the price, even though it was offers over. The new EA only gets 2 people up between September and October. One person views as she wants to downsize, as she has recently lost her husband. She hasn't put her place on the market and our bungalow is the first place she has looked at. She says the bathroom and bedroom 2 are both too small. I can understand her saying the bathroom is small, as it is just 6ft6x5ft6. She is absolutely barking mad if she thinks bedroom 2 is too small - it is a small double at 10ft7x8ft4. Our bungalow is slightly larger than a typical bungalow advertised below £250K in the area. She would know what small was if she went to see this one in a village 3 miles away. There are bigger bungalows available, but the asking price is well over £250K. There is this one in another village 3 miles away that has 2 good doubles, but it is £290K (reduced from £310K). The 2nd couple came out from Hoddesdon and absolutely loved our bungalow and the views, but said they could live here because it was too rural! House 4 came on at £775K which seemed rather optimistic. They reduced to £750K then £730K and it "sold" at £730K. I was gutted when I saw this had gone - it is only 5 houses from our place and we thought that although it was a big house, it was way overpriced. It looks as if the deal fell through, our EA is now advertising it for £689K. I've been talking with our EA about the state of the local market. Apparently there is some demand for anything up to £200K (FTB territory). The market between £200-400K seems to be really quiet. Houses above £450K are really flying, particularly those around the £700K mark. This isn't just the EA blowing hot air - the big houses do seem to be selling. We had another viewing request for 10AM on Monday. The people cancelled at 9AM on Monday because they said the weather was wet and windy and they wanted to postpone the viewing for "at least 1 week". We are going on holiday, so told the EA we would leave a key with our neighbour and he would show them around if they were cash buyers. It looks like the viewer is an elderly woman and her family are trying to convince her to downsize to a bungalow. They are not in a position to proceed, so I've taken our place off the market over Winter and they can see it in January if they still want to. I think that I might try advertising privately again. I did have a website to advertise the house and was advertising on various free house websites. TBH I didn't get that good a response from the free websites - 1 viewer and 2 time-wasters. I did have it with an internet EA who got the house on Rightmove and Prime Location for an up-front fee and no commission when I sell. He said I could relist my place with him again for free, so I may do this in January.
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