Estate Agent Repossession Scam
I was interested in a previously-squatted property with security shutters on the windows and an estate agent’s board outside. But when I phoned the agent they denied all knowledge of it. I was quite persistent and even asked to speak to someone else but met with a brick wall.
Exactly a week later and by a bit of luck I gained entry to the building. I’d gone for another look and noticed the hasps off the door and it was ajar. I thought the squattersmust have come back. I banged hard on the door but there was no reply, just a lot of clattering about upstairs. I have my own reasons for not being afraid of squatters, so I let myself in and went upstairs.
It wasn’t squatters, but a couple of security guys fixing metal shutters to all the doors. They were a bit surprised to see me but once I’d explained why I was there they let me have a good nosey about.
So having assessed the cost of the works needed I phoned the agent again and they immediately said the property had already sold! Bear in mind, this is exactly one week after this same agent swore blind they knew nothing about the property!
With repossessions buyers can make offers right up to exchange, so I insisted on knowing if they’d got to exchange yet. The truth was they hadn’t, so it still hadn’t actually sold, but they worked very hard to discourage me from putting in a rival offer. I insisted, and managed to get the name of the lender and the offer price. With presumably no other offers coming in, the lender had accepted an offer a little over 50% of the real market value. Make of that what you will.
It wasn’t worth my while to pursue at this point, more work needed doing to the property than I was really minded to take on anyway at the moment. Also I’m reliant on private investor finance so have to run everything by them before offering on anything and time was running out. But in future if I run up against a similar brick-wall I’ll be really, really persistent, find out the lender’s name (use Land Registry if necessary), and insist they put my offers forward and that I receive a reply IN WRITING to make sure they do. They probably wouldn’t want me to contact the lender directly! I know this is likely to annoy a few estate agents and I’d rather not annoy anyone, but if I’m locked out of deals from that agent anyway sometimes it’s a case of having nothing to lose.
I’d be interested in other people’s experiences of this sort of scam, for that’s what it amounts to, and what you did (if anything) about it.
EDIT: Having recently lost £540 on abortive transaction fees I’ve changed perspective on this. More recently I’ve seen it from the other side. EA just says how much do you want to pay for the GFF. And the TFF, how much do you want to pay for that? OK we’ll go for a quick completion and if anyone wants to view I’ll just tell them we have no one available. Avoids latecomer bidders and gazumping when the transaction is already underway.