Let’s be honest, an empty home is simply a waste and I’ve never got my head around why they exist. We live on a tiny island where planning laws ensure that property price remain amoungst the highest in the world. According to Recent council tax statistics there are 710,000 empty homes in the UK. Nearly 70,000 of these are in London. A place where house prices and rental prices make most people winse.
Chances are that there is a property near you that is empty. And with no tenants or residents there’s a strong probability of that property requiring some sort of attention. So look out for an empty property makes sence.
How can I get hold of an Empty Property?
Firstly you need to see where the property is actually vaccant or not. There may be some signs of neglect or the lights are off at night, there may even be signs of windows being borded up. The best bet is to knock on the door. If some ones there you can always ask if they would like to sell, they may be struggling with upkeep and the opportunity to buy direct could reduce buying and selling fees on both sides.
Once you know the property is empty you’ll need to contact the owner. You can do this via the land registry. The land registry keep a record of property ownership throughout England and Wales – the service cost around £3 per download. Scotland has the UKLRS. Both websites enable you to downloead the ownership records and title deeds for any give address. This will enable you to see who the rightful owner is. Keep in mind the owner could be a company, local council or a housing trust.
Once you’ve got this information try contacting the owner with a letter. Just keep in mind that one of the reasons the property is vaccant could that they have died and there’s complex family issues around ownership. If the property is owned by a local authroity you might want to consider a joint ownership, where you would rent the property back to them after completion. Keep you mind open to ideas based on the ownership.
Once you’ve made contact and the owner agrees to sell you’ll need to make an offer. Just like any other purchase, do you sums. Make sure you know what it’s worth to you. Bear in mind they may expect you to take on their legal costs of sale which need to be incorporated into your calculations. Try to be diplomatic ask them ” what would you like for the property?”. If their expectation is miles above yours you need to tell them why you think its worth what you’re prepared to pay. If they’re expectation is lower than what you’re prepared to pay do the right think and tell them that you’re prepared to pay more. Don’t rip people off especially if they’re vulnerable and have no one around to confide in. Trust me, you’ll make money in property development, you don’t have to seal from people.
Financing an Empty Property
Traditional mortgage lenders have few products for properties that are uninhabitable, so finding money will be difficult. As we’ve discussed before raising finance for property developers requires expert market insight so best seek the advise of your broker. You may look at creating a bridging loan until the property meats the requirements of a traditional leander, so keep this in mind when you do you costs.
The Government is also about to release the National Empty Home Loans and will offer empty home owners a low intrest loan to help bring them back as affordable housing. This could be worth exploring if your local authority is participating in the scheme.
Where can I find an empty property
Most property auctions offer some empty properties back into the market. Check with your local authority, many have a developers list when empty properties become avaiable they normally inform list members.
Hit the streets. Find you’re own properties it’s always the best way. It might seem odd looking out for signs of no habitation but it’s the best way to find your next project. I always keep a few calling cards in the car. If I drive by what looks like an empty property I’ll just pop a card in the door saying ” if you’re ever thinking of selling I’d be interested in buying” sometimes I get a call back.
Websites that offer empty property
- No Use Empty – West of England Empty Property List
- No Use Empty – Kents initiative to reduce empty homes
- Freedom of information – Enables you to request empty property lists from any local autority in the UK. the link is an example of someone successfully using the service to aquire access to a local authorities list
- Wiltshire Council – Empty Housing list
- Redbridge Councils – Empty housing list
- Richmond Council – Empty housing list
Ah heck the list is a mile long as are local authorities refusing to publish their list of empty homes!. My advise is to use the Freedom of information act to source the list available with your local council. Good luck, let me know how you get on.