Six years ago my Ex and I were persuaded to buy BMV (Below Market Value) properties in the North of England. On paper, they looked like good investments and, during a time when one only needed to be able to sign their name to be granted a mortgage, it was easy. A letting company “only” charged us £2,500 to find each property and £5,000 to refurbish it, promising immediate equity of £20,000 to £30,000. A few of these under our belts, and next year we could be millionaires, Rodney.
Following the split I agreed to sell what I could. The first property took six months to sell and achieved £15,000 under the perceived original value although I was grateful to be rid of it. I instructed the sale of the next one, with a tenant in situ, but after a year of being on the market and only one vague offer which barely made it to exchange I took the decision to find another agent and help the tenant to move on with a cash incentive to aid their moving costs and market the property with vacant possession.
The agent told me it was easily worth £90,000 and with a £70,000 mortgage and £2,500 agent’s fees, I comforted myself that I would finally get something out of the house after sinking thousands into it for repair, maintenance and buying costs. After weeks of no interest, the agent persuaded me to try their auction house for “only” £5,000 selling fees as it was sure to generate some activity there. Three months later and I was offered, £55k, £60k and £65k. It was a sure bet that my Ex would be unwilling to share the loss so, for the last two months, I’ve sunk another £8,500 into its long needed refurbishment, changed agent and put it back on the rental market at a rent of £550 per month. After agent fees and mortgage, it’ll take 60 months or 5 years to repay the investment omitting any capital growth in the north of country.
With head held high, desperately trying not to weep at having to spend hard earned savings on the stupid house and consoling myself that at least I was reinvesting rather than having to look after an empty, risky property or give funds to the mortgage company the agent called this week to say they’d found a tenant.
“Great! Brilliant! Get them in!” I said. “Well, the only thing is” said the agent “That she’s lived there before and wondered if you’ll have her back? She said she loved it so much, didn’t want to leave and said you were a great landlady who sent them chocolates every Christmas.” So, after months of paying a mortgage, council tax, insurance and utilities for an empty property, dug deep for refurb costs, spent hours finding a decent agent and agonising over turfing a good tenant out of their home, it’s gone full circle and she moves back in at the beginning of January.
Surprises in the HMOs:
Back on home turf, Tom lost his job, Sarah has discovered a ghost and my son received the most thoughtful Christmas present ever.
Tom lasted three and a half months in the warehouse of a big company. To be fair, it was two month’s longer than any of us thought he would before he either killed someone whilst driving a forklift under the influence or his vital organs gave up trying to digest the fruits of his overtime pay. I really do think he enjoyed being a regular, employed person but perhaps he just didn’t have the stamina to stay out of the pub.
Sarah cornered me the other day to say that she’d managed to get hold of a radiation meter to check the levels of her room. According to her, all the rooms in the house are clear except hers. She saw my look of alarm and put me at ease by saying that this could be due to the wifi signal but is more likely to point to the existence of a ghost which she is trying to negotiate with. She suspects it’s a child and she’s working with it to help it move on to the other side (this could be true as the house used to be home to wayward teenagers) and assured me she’s content to live with a “squatter”.
Finally, this weekend I dragged my seven year old son round to help with rent collecting. Tom shoved a bag into my hand and whispered “give this to George at Christmas”. “No” I said “You give it to him so he can thank you personally”. As George unwrapped the gift his eyes lit up to find a Chelsea football shirt with his name and age (7) on the back, signed by all the players. “Tom? Is this legit?” I asked. It had to be as the odds of finding a shirt with my son’s name and age written on were a long shot. He replied “I know a bloke in the pub who owed me a favour and works at Chelsea”. George was so bowled over, it brought a tear to Tom’s eye so I gave them a tenner and sent them off to McDonalds for some mutual appreciation where they bumped into my eldest daughter who didn’t think twice to question why some middle aged bloke was buying my son a Happy Meal!