Saturday, 14 December 2013

An Open Letter to my so-called 'Buyer'.

Dear Sir,

Almost a month ago now you made an offer for our house in Abingdon Road, London W8.

It was a good offer, £2.2m in cash. You also agreed to exchange contracts within 5 working days of the papers being in order.

You did all the right things. A good firm of solicitors was appointed. You quickly nominated an overseas company to make the acquisition. And you were happy for our agent to talk to your Finance Director and confirm your company's status and intent.

The necessary papers were all quickly collated. Questions answered. Queries sorted.

The solicitors were ready to exchange. All they needed was you and your deposit money.

At this stage, even the profoundly cynical, like myself, might have believed things were on track for a successful and speedy conclusion.

Then you disappeared. Went off the radar. Didn't answer emails. Or phone calls.

Apparently you were in 'the States' for Thanksgiving. Couldn't be contacted.

That's strange. After all, you have offices in four countries and according to your website conduct offshore investments on behalf of international investors.

You should therefore, by now, have mastered the art of picking up a phone or tapping out an email. But seemingly not. You apparently have to be physically present in the London office to conduct business in London.

These days the euphemism for a delaying tactic is not "it's in the post", it's "he's travelling." And you have used this relentlessly.

Yesterday, for example, our agents received an email from you (finally) saying that you had "arrived from the US at 1pm and would be flying to Dublin at 9am in the morning". It's nice of you to keep us posted on your itinerary, but honestly don't bother. It's not remotely impressive or in any way an excuse.

(Just in case you were wondering, I'm travelling to Clapham for lunch today and will be heading to Mells in Somerset and then Bristol tomorrow morning.)

Your cash offer also seems to have morphed into a much less desirable deal requiring Lloyds Bank funding. This was casually dropped into a your recent email with hardly a comment, yet it's a fundamental change.

We aren't interested in your travel schedule, your financial arrangements or your internal approval systems. We are interested however in the fact that you have wasted my time, our agent's time, the time of two solicitors and caused all of us enormous frustration.

You are at the very least disingenuous, possibly a fantasist, but mostly just an arrogant bastard.

Your company is named after a famous cigarette brand (sadly not Marlboro, because the cowboy connection would be most appropriate). But dealing with you is far more dangerous to one's health than a few fags.

You had a chance to acquire a very rare, unmodernised W8 terraced house in a rising market. You messed up, and and we will now redevelop the property ourselves. Which is a shame for your clients.

We don't need to deal with rude, insincere buyers like yourself. And won't.

Yours faithfully

The Doer-Upper.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Under Offer shouldn't mean Under Consideration.

So far one of our properties has gone 'under offer' three times and still there's no sale.

It seems that some property buyers make offers the way politicians make promises. Without any idea whether they can or even want to make good their offer/promise.

I do understand, of course, that there will always be good reasons for house sales to fall through. But all too often it seems that making an offer is little more than a ploy.

A gambit designed to buy the buyer more time to consider the property.

There should in my view be a price to pay for messing with sellers in this way.

And the simplest price would be an offer deposit, only repayable if a survey, search or legal enquiry throws up a genuine and significant issue.

Of course, sellers can insist on this now. It's not unknown. But according to my solicitor it can take two weeks and a fair few hours of a lawyer's expensive time to concoct one of these agreements.

That is typical legal world self-interested bullshit. There should be a standard agreement that can be signed the same day as the offer.

This might stop some of the ludicrous 'about-turns' from buyers that I've experienced over the past year.

In one case, for example, the buyer decided that the lack of a bath (it has a shower, in case you're wondering) was sufficient reason to back out. Two weeks after agreeing an offer!

This absurd time and money wasting behaviour is not only frustrating, it borders on deliberate dishonesty.

Currently our 'wreck' in W8 is under offer for the third time. The 'buyer' agreed a five day exchange, briefed a solicitor, made all sort of reassuring noises (it's a company) and then......disappeared for two weeks. The decision makers are apparently in the US. But this is a blatant lie as we know that the person concerned arrived back in London earlier this week.

Whether we sell it isn't actually critical to me. I'm more than happy to redevelop the property myself.

I'd just like to know one way or the other.

So, I've decided to put something else under consideration.

Naming and shaming the sham buyers I come across.