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Be Prepared For The Unexpected When Buying A ‘Doer-Upper’

a couple redecorating their house

For many people moving home, buying a ‘project’ offers the best value, not just in financial terms, but planning and designing the interior to suit your own taste for years to come.

However, one must be prepared for potentially dealing with a mess when you get the keys because ‘doer-uppers’ are sometimes left full of rubbish if the previous occupant has gone into care, or even died, and the executors just wanted a quick sale, ignoring any responsibility for clearing it, with the exception of anything of value!

In most cases, what is left may include piles of boxes and redundant furniture, despite buyers being assured when viewing – often remotely during the last year or so – that everything would be removed.

So, what to do? Contact the estate agents and your legal adviser, and take photos. The disappointment is stressful, ruining what should be a happy occasion, but getting any redress will take time and may be unsuccessful, so the best thing is often just to get on with sorting the mess yourself, recording the process on your mobile phone, and keeping details of any costs.

Friends and family, and often your new neighbours, are likely to help; ironically, these events are an opportunity to bring communities together.

Unfortunately, sellers of any second hand property may ‘forget’ to empty the fridge, clean the kitchen and bathroom and empty the bins, as well as sheds and garages! Sometimes pets may also find themselves gifted to the new owners, without their consent.

Happily, welcome cards and a bottle of Prosecco alongside a bunch of flowers are more commonplace gifts from sellers when properties change hands, and neighbours are usually keen to offer coffee and cake as removal vans are unloaded.

Most importantly, buying at the right price is key to success. With the stamp duty holiday now curtailed, there is less pressure on the housing market, and greedy sellers who may previously have demanded higher prices if buyers were to meet compliance deadlines, are also being curtailed. Buyers should take their time to assess opportunities, compare prices and physically view favoured properties before committing to a purchase.

Always have your mortgage agreed in principle as you start the search because this can speed up a transaction and ensure the best deals are offered to suit individual circumstances – taking into account potential refurbishments to any second-hand, structurally sound, property. And don’t forget to secure appropriate insurance from the day you move; in the event of facing a mess, you may be able to recover some, if not all, costs in sorting it out.

Our advisers at The Mortgage Centres would be delighted to discuss your ambitions and assist with identifying the right mortgage to enable you to realise your new home’s potential.


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