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They've Even Taken The #?x!@x Lawn! Now House Sellers Really Are Stripping Their Homes Bare Before Handing Over The Keys

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They've even taken the #?x!@x lawn! Now house sellers really are stripping their homes bare before handing over the keys

The carpets are ripped up, switches torn from walls and there are no light fittings, let alone light bulbs. Naked wires hang from the ceilings. There isn't even a toilet-roll holder. Most of the heating oil has been drained from the tank.

This isn't a squalid bedsit, far from it. This was the scene that greeted a couple when they sold their shipping business in Hong Kong and retired back to Britain to live in a £500,000 farmhouse near Totnes, a historical market town in South Devon.

The sellers were a couple in their mid-50s who had fallen on hard times. The husband had been made redundant from his banking job and, desperate to claw back money and sell fast, had agreed to an offer 15 per cent below the asking price - and begrudged every penny he lost.

The negotiations caused enormous friction and, ultimately, they felt cheated,' says Jonathan Haward, chairman of The County Homesearch Company. 'It's not that they were especially attached to that light bulb or drop of oil; it was a jostling pole in their retaliation.'

Countless families are having similar experiences when they buy a house. Around one in every five homebuyers arrives at their new place to discover fittings they expected to keep have been ripped out - from brass doorknobs and plastic light switches to dahlias, wheelie bins and pre-Victorian toilet seats. In some cases, even lawns have been torn up.

More surprisingly, seven out of ten homebuyers will find themselves embroiled in petty wrangling over certain fixtures.

Around one in every five homebuyers arrives at their new place to discover fittings they expected to keep have been ripped out

That is exactly what happened when estate agent Paul Finnegan was hired to sell a Victorian-style mansion near Windsor, set in 35 acres of countryside. He had no shortage of would-be buyers. The piece de resistance, in the outskirts of the grounds, was a smart putting green complete with bunkers.

'The man selling was a golf fanatic and played every evening,' says Paul. 'He was so desperate to keep this bit of green, he knocked five per cent off the asking price so he could take it with him,' - which is a rather pricey patch of grass given that the palatial pile sold for £3million.

'Dramatic stand-offs about seeming trifles are all too common these days,' adds Paul, who, as a partner of Savills based in the Mayfair branch, has seen the most well-heeled of haggles. He recently oversaw a scuffle regarding the price of a £2million palatial estate. The seller eventually caved in - but only if he could take the koi carp from the lake, worth thousands of pounds.

House-stripping, as it is known, has been a problem for buyers since the 1990s when people took hot-water boilers, brass light fittings and radiators. Many sold them on as scrap metal because copper prices were high. over the past year, property stripping has seen a surprising resurgence.

'Vendors don't have the choice of buyers that they used to: asking prices are unrealistically high and buyers are negotiating astronomical discounts,' says Tim Hammond, chief executive of the Homebuyer Centre. 'To claw back pennies, they're taking absolutely everything they can.

'So many families, especially hard-working ones, barely look into what's excluded because they want to sign contracts, get the keys, move in and carry on with everything.' Which is when the problems begin.

The most common disappearances include washing machines, radiators, fireplace surrounds, light fittings and boilers - while others are more unusual.

When Tim showed a marketing executive and his wife, a teacher, photographs of a Victorian terraced house in Brackley, Northamptonshire, they were instantly smitten by a log cabin in the garden.

Six weeks later, their £250,000 offer had been accepted and they moved in with two children and removal men in tow. only then did they discover that all that was left of the log cabin was a slab of concrete: the foundation.

'They were furious, especially as the outhouse was pictured in the brochure,' explains Tim. The vendors were mid-divorce and, desperate to sell, had agreed on a price of £20,000 less than they wanted. They retaliated in the only way they could - by keeping a bit of the house.

Worse still, their action was perfectly legal. The log cabin hadn't been included in the ninepage inventory of furniture and fittings to stay, but the buyers hadn't noticed.

In theory, the legallyenforced rules governing what items remain when a house is sold should be clear. Mike Dibben, of Brethertons solicitors, uses a dramatic analogy: '

Imagine that you pick up the house and turn it upside down. All the items inside that would then fall on to the ceiling count as "loose contents" or "furniture", which can be taken, while everything that stays put should stay, unless it's agreed otherwise.'

The most common disappearances include washing machines, radiators, fireplace surrounds, light fittings and boilers - while others are more unusual.

However, in reality, property solicitors often shun the official Law Society inventory of items that the vendor promises to leave and, instead, use woolly and less legally tight versions. Equally, some buyers fail to scrutinise the inventory properly and don't realise that some fittings that they've set their heart on are not included.

What's more, claiming back items that have been illegally removed involves cumbersome court procedures and hefty fees. 'When you weigh up the cost of the legal fees against the value of the light fitting or radiator that's been taken, it's often not worth the effort,' says Mr Dibben.

Some buyers are resorting to extreme measures. Businesswoman Ann Stocks hired a security guard to sit in the house she had just bought for two days to protect the treasured Aga and pre-Victorian bathroom suite while she packed up her old home in Kent and took her four children to their new £170,000 house near Torbay in South Devon.

She explained: 'The man who had sold it to us had taken everything. He'd unscrewed the beautiful brass doorknobs and yanked out the light bulbs and light fittings so long wires hung from the ceiling. He had moved into a barn a few streets away and we were terrified he'd return for the Aga.' Other families have turned up at their new home only to find it gutted.

Annie O'Neill describes the moment she, husband Mick and their two daughters opened the door of their new Belfast home: 'It was pitch black. We went to turn a light on in the hall but nothing worked. The chap who left had ripped the light fittings from the ceilings, pulled out some of the kitchen fittings such as the fridge-freezer surround and there weren't any carpets or light switches left.'

It took weeks of hounding solicitors and the seller until the home was finally habitable.

The solution, according to Jonathan Haward, is simple. 'You just need to make sure you're upfront when you agree in advance what is being left and what is being taken.'

Which sounds reasonable enough. But Annie is still furious. 'You don't expect to clarify things as simple as a light switch in a contract,' she says.

'You expect to be able to walk in with your family and not have hanging live wires and a dark, uninhabitable house. No matter how lengthy the list of items and no matter how rigorous the contract, nothing can protect you from the horror of that moment.'

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This echoes what happened in the 1990s crash here, and in the US in recent years, when people who are repossessed gut/destroy the house interior.

I suppose you need to detail everything in a contract now - problem is, the end result is just a long, costly and stressful legal case.

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This echoes what happened in the 1990s crash here, and in the US in recent years, when people who are repossessed gut/destroy the house interior.

I suppose you need to detail everything in a contract now - problem is, the end result is just a long, costly and stressful legal case.

When we bought our house the vendor was pretty p*ssed off with Mr B for bargaining the price down.

Out of the goodness of my heart I then let her stay 4 days after completion (my sol. had a fit) because the much bigger house she was moving to wasn't ready.

The b*tch then took down every single curtain rail, even though she knew I was moving in on my own, with a new baby.

And most of the light bulbs.

B*ggered if I'd ever do anything like that again.

It was great fun putting up all new curtain rails with nobody to help. :(

,

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I refurbed my current HA place.

I do not need to now, but I may well have taken:

All the rubber flooring tiles

The free standing bath

The entire kitchen (free standing) including the belfast sink and taps

I would sell the nice Victorian doors on ebay (the only thing I didn't pay for)

The whole place will be put in a skip anyway when I go as it is not really habitable.

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When we bought our house the vendor was pretty p*ssed off with Mr B for bargaining the price down.

Out of the goodness of my heart I then let her stay 4 days after completion (my sol. had a fit) because the much bigger house she was moving to wasn't ready.

The b*tch then took down every single curtain rail, even though she knew I was moving in on my own, with a new baby.

And most of the light bulbs.

B*ggered if I'd ever do anything like that again.

It was great fun putting up all new curtain rails with nobody to help. :(

,

I would NEVER take the lightbulbs.

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My biggest problem has been people not taking away stuff, i.e. leaving old bits of shite like broken washing machines and 20-year old microwaves that drown out local air traffic control. These 'gifts' are usually left as the removal firm will charge extra to dump stuff (it would be costed by the local council as commercial waste) and the sellers are too busy at that point to get round to dumping the stuff themselves

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im sure ive seen this in a film, couple shown round house and seller says we are taking it with us to everything, the buyers assume they are joking, they arent, maybe its the money pit, was a funny film

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im sure ive seen this in a film, couple shown round house and seller says we are taking it with us to everything, the buyers assume they are joking, they arent, maybe its the money pit, was a funny film

There's also Pacific Heights, with Michael Keaton the psycho tenant who stripped the flat he was staying in...

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im sure ive seen this in a film, couple shown round house and seller says we are taking it with us to everything, the buyers assume they are joking, they arent, maybe its the money pit, was a funny film

Wasn't money pit was a film about con artists, and they take the windows and the pool...

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I would NEVER take the lightbulbs.

I would however take all my nice energy-saving ones and replace them with cheap incandescent ones. Does that make me appalingly cheap?

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I would however take all my nice energy-saving ones and replace them with cheap incandescent ones. Does that make me appalingly cheap?

I was reading a review of some new Philips eco ones over the weekend - 40 to 60 bucks in the US review so will that be 40 to 60 quid a bulb here?

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im sure ive seen this in a film, couple shown round house and seller says we are taking it with us to everything, the buyers assume they are joking, they arent, maybe its the money pit, was a funny film

might have been the film "Moving" with Richard Pryor

they took everything in that but he thought they were joking

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Friend of mine bought a small 3-bed detached around '96 (for £60K, those were the days). Listed items included a decent washing machine and a nice stone sundial in the garden. A separate agreement had been used for the contents to avoid stamp duty (60K limit at the time)

On moving in day, my friend noticed the washing machine had been swapped for a cheap one and the nice stone sundial had been swapped for a stick with a wooden circle on it.

The good news was that my friend thought the seller was dodgy so had listed everything down properly and had paid the money separately for contents via the solicitors so was able to get the proper items back. The seller eventually brought them back, claiming he wasn't well, lost his job and needed the money.

Buyer beware.

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I would however take all my nice energy-saving ones and replace them with cheap incandescent ones. Does that make me appalingly cheap?

That seems fair enough really.

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I refurbed my current HA place.

I do not need to now, but I may well have taken:

All the rubber flooring tiles

The free standing bath

The entire kitchen (free standing) including the belfast sink and taps

I would sell the nice Victorian doors on ebay (the only thing I didn't pay for)

The whole place will be put in a skip anyway when I go as it is not really habitable.

About how much do you reckon them doors are worth? I'm looking at a place which still has old Victorian doors.

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I would however take all my nice energy-saving ones and replace them with cheap incandescent ones. Does that make me appalingly cheap?

Energy saving bulbs are often now cheaper. Last week in Sainsbury's I bought x1 energy saving bulb for 29p (60watt equivalent) x2 incandescent bulbs were 79p.

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'The man selling was a golf fanatic and played every evening,' says Paul. 'He was so desperate to keep this bit of green, he knocked five per cent off the asking price so he could take it with him,' - which is a rather pricey patch of grass given that the palatial pile sold for £3million.

So the guy agreed in advance that he would be taking the lawn and paid 5% of £3million for the right to do so.

What's the problem exactly?

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It's quite funny because you might not even notice if the contract is missing things like "glazing".

I wonder if anyone's ever taken the windows with them! :lol:

I have heard of people taking the loft insulation. :lol:

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I would however take all my nice energy-saving ones and replace them with cheap incandescent ones. Does that make me appalingly cheap?

If it was me buying your house and they were 100 watt ones I'd be very grateful to you for doing so. Can't stand dim slow-to-brighten-up rubbish "energy-saving" ones. I bought one recently after a bulb went; it quickly ended up in the spare room so that I could have a light that worked properly in the lounge.

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  • 259 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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