The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Sisters left ‘high and dry’ after star Helen outbids original buyer for £1.7m home – then gets cold feet
WHEN four sisters decided to sell their idyllic family home in Devon, they were delighted to learn that Cold Feet actress Helen Baxendale had made an offer for it – one they simply couldn’t refuse.
True, it meant going back on their word to a local fisherman who had already agreed to buy the stunning Grade II listed property, which backs on to the picturesque River Dart.
But Baxendale, who also starred in Friends, was offering £200,000 more than the original agreed price. The 51-year-old actress even wrote a personal note to say she loved the eightbedroom Queen Anne home, and how much her three children would enjoy living there.
So the sisters were perplexed when the star and her partner, film producer David Williams, stopped replying to correspondence about the £1.7million purchase. And when, with no reason given, the sale fell through, the sisters were left frustrated – and heavily out of pocket.
Now they have expressed their frustration and anger about the couple’s behaviour after they were left ‘high and dry’, and forced to accept a ‘significantly lower’ offer after putting it back up for sale.
One of the sisters, Julie Lynn Evans, a child psychologist, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We’d already agreed another offer but there was a mortgage on the property which had been taken out to pay for our late father’s care home fees, and it was costing us £8,000 a month.
Because David and Helen offered so much more, and wanted to move really fast, we were happy to accept despite it involving us going back on our word to sell it to another buyer. Now, because they delayed and then effectively pulled out, we’ve lost a significant amount of money. We can’t believe anyone could behave so badly.’
The four sisters, who had enjoyed an idyllic childhood there, put the 1830s home on the market last December for £1.35million following the death of their mother, Fleur, who lived there alone.
The property, once home to Just William author Richmal Crompton, boasts a tennis court, five acres and private access to the river.
Helen, who appeared in Friends as Ross’s English wife Emily, visited the property ‘at least twice’ with David at the end of February, Julie says. ‘Early on, Helen wrote a lovely email which said they could see it was perfect for their three children.’ There were several expressions of interest and after bids went to last and final offers on March 3, the family accepted the highest offer. Three days later, an offer worth an additional £200,000 arrived from David and Helen – but with a strict caveat: that the house was to be ready for them to move into at Easter, in four weeks’ time.
David and Helen seemed all set to move out of their £3.5million semidetached townhouse at Richmond Hill in South-West London, where they live with their colourfully named children – Nell Marmalade, 21, Eric Mustard, 19, and Vincent Mash, 14. But as the weeks ticked by, there was no progress and the couple failed to return calls from the agents. ‘By mid-May it felt like something was really wrong,’ Julie says. ‘So we sent a request via the agent to see what they wanted us to do about it.
‘After a week without a response, we issued an ultimatum. We didn’t hear a word. We still haven’t.’
The property was finally sold last week to a family friend for a much lower sum. But the delay meant the sisters were forced to make an additional four months of mortgage repayments, amounting to £32,000.
Julie says: ‘I’m sure people will think we were stupid, but we trusted them.’ Ms Baxendale and her partner made no comment.
‘We can’t believe anyone could behave so badly’