I wrote this article for a magazine a few months ago, I did it to show the kind of lengths I would go to in order to get the "DEAL". Since writing this there has been a development, sadly a crap one for me as the property below was FINALLY put on the market and you guessed it sold to someone else! sad sad times. I thought putting this out there would give me some closer on the whole matter enjoy!
The unicorn, we all have one, right? I’ve been sourcing property for five years and there’s one I’ve been chasing for 4 of those years. In this article I’ll be sharing this particular story with you to give you the inside scoop on what it takes to be a great property sourcer. A lot of the methods I used to source this property have worked previously by sourcing other direct to vendor deals. Now before you go any further, doing some or part of these can land you with a restraining order so tread carefully. There’s a fine line between persistence and harassment.
Sometimes with property you can go into a situation pushing the best deal for you. I’ve been there trying to convince a 70-year-old with no mortgage that wants to sell his house to do a purchase lease option with me. I can assure you that’s not the way you’re going to get great deals or any deals to be honest. Property is a people’s business and sourcing is simply understanding someone’s problems and fixing them. It has to be a win/win. There are so many tools available to investors currently that if the vendor is truly motivated there is nearly always a deal to be had.
That being said, sometimes no matter what you do you just can’t get in a room to discuss the vendors issues. That’s what my unicorn story is about. How you get into that room. So, rewind to the middle of 2015. I stumble across a beautiful property situated in a very affluent area of Nottingham. It sticks out like a sore thumb. Fully neglected, trees growing from the roof and chimney. Ground floor windows so rotten that they are now fully open. I do what I always do and add the address to the s**t list on my iPhone. Whenever I drive around and see a neglected property I pull over, find the address and add it to this list. At the end of the month I then use land registry to find the owners of the properties on the list and send them a letter. Simple, right? Well this particular property wasn’t registered. So back to the drawing boards.
I started by knocking on all of the neighbour’s doors. It’s fair to say that the neighbours hate the sight of this property too so they have a vested interest in it being fixed. In theory it could add value to their homes. So, despite the reception you think you may get using this approach, the outcome tends to be very positive. After speaking with the neighbours one elderly gentleman mentioned that the owner had died and a company had inherited it. With this information I began researching the company to find it was a ghost office. Another dead end. However, the company did have an accountant’s address on the accounts so I called them. This led to a dead end due to data protection. I went back to Companies House. After some work I found that the director did actually have another company which was registered to a different address. One close to the actual property. I began by mailshotting that address. Weeks passed and I heard nothing. As you can’t always trust the post I decided to send a hand-written letter to the address in person. Six weeks later I heard back. Not from the vendor himself but from his letting agent! That’s right, this property was let out and tenants were moving out as the council had effectively shut the property down due to its condition. Rightly so. It was missing a window on the ground floor. The agent went on to say that his client was interested in “disposing of the property”. Odd words I thought, unless he was thinking of burning it. Anyhow, this was fantastic news and I requested a face to face meeting with the letting agent and vendor at any time preferably at the house. After this the owner went missing. Not literally! But he had stopped returning calls to the letting agent. Me being me I visited the address I had for him and knocked on the door. I did this once every week as no one ever answered the door. I considered whether it was the times of day I was visiting so I made sure to visit in evenings and weekend and all the while leaving hand written letters when I visited.
Months passed and still nothing. I decided the visiting wasn’t working and changed tactic. We live in an era where everyone is findable online and as I had the vendors name finding him was simple. Facebook! I messaged him. He read it and didn’t reply. At this point I considered calling it a day but with all the best property deals I’ve ever played a part in persistence has been the key! I soldiered on and carried on messaging him. Once every few months or so. I then found his linked in profile and his place of work. It took a lot of courage but I called him. Understandably he was pretty shocked but he gave me his mobile number and asked me to call him later on. I tried and I got nothing. I tried his office line again but he never made himself available for me again. This went on for at least a year or so. I even sent him Christmas gifts such as a mug and a card in the hope that he would find the humour in it and call me. He never did.
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In 2017 the property was broken into and squatters began living there. I found this out as I drove past it and saw someone entering through the window. I thought of all of the motivators out there to sell a property, getting squatters must be close to the top. With a new gust of wind behind me I began contacting him again. He took my call, mentioned that he wanted to speak with me but didn’t have the time currently despite me saying it would only take 10 minutes. After that call the house was boarded up and the trail went cold on me again.
The property stands deteriorating by the day. A real shame but I’m out of options. Unless I really want to get that Restraining Order. I still message him every six months in the hope that one day he will return my calls. I’ll let you know if it ever comes off.
Bath anyone ?