They say the Scots are a canny people – I like to think that we can’t resist a bargain. ‘This is a probate sale,’ said the agent. The relevant questions to ask in this instance are: 1) How long has the executor been trying to sell the property? 2) How many beneficiaries are there?
The reasons for these questions are fairly obvious. Firstly, probate sales can often take longer to come to market and therefore the property may have been ‘hanging around’ – in the eyes of the beneficiaries – for a while. Secondly, the fewer beneficiaries there are the quicker you might be able to do a deal.
In this case the property had been (technically) for sale for 10 months and there was only one beneficiary, who the agent kindly informed me was a keen seller! Win, win in my opinion, and so it was to prove. The agent had told me that (unusually) a Structural and Specialist Timber survey had been carried out to hasten a sale. This was definitely a plus and key to any quick decisions! After reading the reports and ringing the Surveyor for an informal chat, I had a rough idea of what it might cost for a basic but essential rebuild/renovation.
With these figures in mind I decided to make a very cheeky offer, 25% below the asking price. I added to this as a sweetener, the will to complete my sale within 2 weeks. Within 2 hours the executor/beneficiary had gone for the deal. I’m not sure who was more shocked, the agent or myself and I will admit that once the offer was accepted I had a moment of panic! What had I bought? Could I manage a major renovation, one that required the demolition of a third off the building plus a partial rebuild? And an important question that I should have asked beforehand, can I find a Solicitor willing to process a purchase (offer to completion in two weeks) within a 2 week timescale?
At the very least I had bought a building plot in a popular village, in an area that has been designated of Great Landscape Value, i.e. an area considered to have a particular scenic value. I found a solicitor willing to give it a go for a two week purchase, despite being adamant that he had boxes to tick to safeguard my purchase – oh and he would not ignore good practice! As I told him, ‘give it your best shot and at the very least get the seller tied in asap.’ So the purchase/sale race was on – what could go wrong?