The Daily Telegraph - Property - - PROPERTYCL­INIC -

Con­tin­u­ing the se­ries in which our Clinic ex­perts pro­vide a guide to those thorny is­sues that can trip up the un­wary. This week, Lorna Vestey on buy­ing a re­pos­ses­sion. Re­pos­ses­sions are sup­posed to sell very cheaply but how do I go about find­ing one? Lenders used to pub­lish lists but don’t any longer, partly for PR rea­sons and partly to avoid dam­ag­ing po­ten­tial sale prices. How­ever, it is still worth ask­ing them if they’re sell­ing any re­pos­sessed prop­er­ties in spe­cific ar­eas as they may give out in­for­ma­tion on re­quest.

Some use es­tate agents — who will gen­er­ally tell you about any they are list­ing — and some sell by auc­tion. Auc­tion­eers don’t al­ways men­tion in the cat­a­logue that a prop­erty has been re­pos­sessed, but when you view there are clues: un­oc­cu­pied, per­haps with new locks, no heat­ing and the wa­ter turned off (fac­tor util­ity re­con­nec­tion charges into your costs).

If all else fails, there are web­sites (try that col­late in­for­ma­tion on re­pos­ses­sions but they do charge a sub­scrip­tion fee. Ar e there down­sides to buy­ing a re­pos­ses­sion? Fi­nan­cial prob­lems may have pre­vented the pre­vi­ous own­ers from main­tain­ing the prop­erty and oc­ca­sion­ally some cause dam­age or re­move fit­tings. Debts at­tached to the ad­dress shouldn’t dam­age your credit rat­ing but keep a watch on this (0844 481 8000; www.ex­pe­rian. so that you can have any nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions made. And open post for the pre­vi­ous oc­cu­piers as you will need to in­form cred­i­tors that they have moved out and you are the new own­ers. Oth­er­wise you’ll find bailiffs turn­ing up at your door. What about the buy­ing process? Lenders have an obli­ga­tion to ob­tain the best pos­si­ble price for prop­er­ties they have re­pos­sessed. For open-mar­ket sales, they will usu­ally ac­cept your of­fer, then put a no­tice of of­fer in the lo­cal press to in­vite higher bids by a cer­tain date, usu­ally within seven days but some­times longer. Even then you can­not rely on them re­fus­ing a late higher bid, so re­quest in writ­ing the op­por­tu­nity to match any sub­se­quent of­fer. En­sure that you have a good so­lic­i­tor so you can ex­change con­tracts quickly. Is buy­ing a re­pos­ses­sion a good idea? It all de­pends on the prop­erty, so re­search the mar­ket. There are cer­tainly bar­gains now, some re­pos­ses­sions and some not. Be­ware of clus­ters of re­pos­ses­sions in par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tions; this may sig­nal a lo­cal over-sup­ply. Such prop­er­ties will take longer to re­cover value and are likely to be poor rental prospects in the mean­time. Most own­ers will have un­suc­cess­fully tried to sell or let the prop­er­ties them­selves. The Com­plete Guide to Buy­ing Re­pos­sessed Prop­erty Bar­gains: All You Need to Know About Buy­ing a Re­pos­ses­sion by Cather­ine Daw­son (Law­pack Pub­lish­ing £14.99) may be use­ful.

Lorna Vestey is a for­mer part­ner of a blue-chip Lon­don es­tate agency.

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