To think this sounds a bit dodgy?

(37 Posts)
gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:16:56

We have had an offer accepted on a flat, our first move from rented. Everyone is very keen to move quickly. The flat had been on the market for 3 months (Oct - Jan).

I'm now starting to get cold feet ... The flat is still lovely, but there are two things concerning me:

1. The vendors only bought the house in March 2012. So they decided to sell it 7 months later. The Estate Agent says they are moving back to France, where they're from, but he lies about everything so I have no idea whether or not this is true.
2. Survey says the downstairs flat looked unkempt. It looked fine to me when I went round, but I did see a slightly dodgy looking bloke ring the doorbell. I'm now not sure what that means. We are going to drive by tonight to suss out the area a bit more, but I don't know what else we can do.

The Estate Agent is putting lots of pressure on us to move quickly, and for financial and practical reasons it would be good to. Are we being paranoid, or does this sound dodgy to you?

Can you clarify point 2? Who says the downstairs flat looks unkempt? As long as the communal areas and your flat are nice, it doesn't matter what the downstairs flat looks like inside. What do you mean by a dodgy bloke ringing the doorbell? Probably just a mate of the person who lives there. Do you think it's a crack den or something?

Ariel24 Sat 09-Feb-13 15:23:52

I would say if you're having doubts, listen to your instincts, buying a home is such a massive commitment and if you buy the flat then change your mind you could be stuck.. if there are issues with the downstairs flat could this be why the vendors are selling?

MrsBW Sat 09-Feb-13 15:29:39

Go and knock on some doors, explain and ask the neighbours what the area is like if you're really concerned?

Have a looking the land registry and you can see how many times 'your' flat has sold before this time... And when downstairs was last sold/bought. If downstairs moved in in September, I'd be worried. This only works if they're not renting anyway.

If you're having serious doubts, you should pull out (we pulled out of a house sale late last yer) but be aware that sometimes you can build things up to more than they are when you're about to make a massive purchase like this. Do as much as you can to ensure any decision you make is based on fact.

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:29:39

Well, we thought it looked fine (ie the front garden did, but it was dusk or nighttime when we looked round), but the survey said, 'The lower flat seems to be rather neglected possibly even unoccupied or a sitting tenant rather than an owner occupier.'

Obviously, I have no problem with anyone renting a flat rather than owning it, and it doesn't matter if it's unoccupied either. But now I'm wondering - why are the vendors so keen to move after just 6 months? Have they had problems with their neighbours?

The guy I saw was in his fifties, dishevelled, talking to himself, looked like he was high. He rang the doorbell but there was nobody in. I wouldn't think twice about it normally (we live in London, I don't care what anyone else does or takes or is). But we're expecting a baby and it's all making me a bit paranoid. Eg- is the downstairs flat a crack den?! (Sorry, super paranoid, I know!)

MrsBW Sat 09-Feb-13 15:31:11

Have a look on here if you're worried about it being a drugs den... Likely to have been crimes reported if so.

www.police.uk/

MrsBW Sat 09-Feb-13 15:34:54

Sorry, some really bad spelling in my first post due to iPad autocorrect!!

I meant 'have a look at the land registry'

Adversecamber Sat 09-Feb-13 15:37:10

Can you walk past the flat a few times at different times of the day?

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:39:05

Wow, very useful link MrsBW! Doesn't look like anything has been reported.

I hope I'm being paranoid.

The flat has been sold twice in the last 18 months. First time it was renovated and sold in 3 months. Then the current vendors bought it. It has gone up in price by £50k since they bought it (lucky sods), and they weren't ready to accept a low offer - which is maybe a good sign?

Do you think I can ask the vendors or the estate agent again? Will I get a straight answer out of any of them? We're going down there tonight, but it feels a bit intrusive to knock on neighbours' doors on a Saturday niight. I work 7 days a wk so won't be able to do it again for some time. Meanwhile, the estate agent calls every day asking us why we're being so slow ....

You must go and look again in daylight, if it is a conversion and a leasehold there will probably be joint responsibilities, ask your conveyancer to clarify what they are. You don't want to get lumbered with a property where the other leaseholder is someone who is not keeping up the structure of your home. Do what MRS BW suggests, talk to neighbours. You can also ask your conveyancer to ask the vendor, formally, whether they are aware of or have had any issues with neighbours downstairs eg noise, or to do with the property upkeep. They may not answer truthfully if they are off to France though! And an unoccupied flat below yours is vulnerable to squatters, damp, any number of problems.
Move at your pace and pull out if you are not sure.

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:39:41

Thank you for all the advice, and sorry for my ramblings ....

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:40:46

Thanks 25 - the conveyancer is the solicitor, right? So she can make enquiries on my behalf?

mrsbunnylove Sat 09-Feb-13 15:41:38

gertrudestein says thats enough, i know that that's not enough now...

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 15:49:33

Go and look in daylight, and then go over there tonight at about midnight and sit outside for half an hour or so.

Ask at the local police station.

Find out who owns the flat downstairs, and see whether you can find out any more about them - you are going to have to share costs of renovation, roof repairs etc over the years, so it's worth doing a bit of homework.

Don't be rushed into a quick closure. Give a date, and then stick to it. If the vendors aren't happy with that date, they can put it back on the market.

And finally - have you just knocked on the door? Knock and say "we are thinking of buying upstairs, so we thought we would just say hello". If the door is opened by a zombie, or if it smells of dead bodies, or if you can't see inside because it looks like this then maybe pull out.

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:50:08

I quite agree mrsbunnylove! I could always blast Idlewild out at full volume and see how they respond ... Probably a good mark of character

Yes sorry - she can and she should! Don't be intimidated by the agent. Tell him the survey has highlighted a couple of issues that you have asked your solicitor to pursue. Tell him what the problem is as well and him if he is aware of any issues with the other flat.
It is probably nothing to worry about but you are spending alot of money and you want to be happy with your new home so it's worth checking it out smile

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:53:41

Ha! MaryZ, scary.

But excellent advice. Am not sure what to say if knocking on the door after the first 'hello' though. I'm trying to think how I would react if someone did that to me. Perhaps we could ask about the shared front garden. I've probably got to get over shyness for the sake of such an important decision.

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 15:55:40

Thanks 25, I didn't know I could do that! You are right, of course. Am beginning to not like the estate agent very much ....

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 15:56:47

Oh, it's easy.

Knock on door. "hello, we are x and y, we want to buy the house upstairs. Can we access the garden, we just want to have a good look at <insert anything at all, roof, gutters, whatever>. By the way, lovely to meet you, have you been here long, is it a nice place to live? I love your pitbulls geraniums, what lovely dead bodies curtains".

You'll get a good idea.

And if they tell you to fuck off and slam the door, do you want to live above them?

Bozzle Sat 09-Feb-13 15:59:47

If,I was you I would be asking neighbours who's living there and if any issues have arisen. Estate agents work not for you but the sellers - take what they say with pinch of salt. S/he just wants the deal done... so you take your time and get questions answered. Your solicitor can find out if the flat below is owner occupied ( if not, who rents it if anyone?). If leasehold you have shared costs - this should all be documented and managed by someone , either company or flat owners themselves. You should be able to see accounts on expenditure and what the plan is for the future - like does roof need replacing? Is the house or building in good nick generally? How many times have you seen the building and flat and visit it not just at night time. Its a big purchase so you might need to take a half day off work and go and see it again. The vendors fill in forms where they can be asked specific questions. But I think its easier to lie on paper. Ask them direct and look them in the eye- how do they react to questions about the other flat owner/renter?

gertrude I think they are used to that!
maryz I used to live in London and when we viewed our flat the shared garden was full of geraniums, by the time bought it was full of staffies and their copious shit which the neighbour used to push the lawnmower over boak

gertrudestein Sat 09-Feb-13 16:09:03

Ok, so, armed with my biggest smile I will go round tonight (Saturday night!) and hope the neighbours are friendly. Blimey, am not sure I would be that friendly to a stranger on a Saturday night, but fingers crossed.

Bozzle I think you're right - we need to see the property once more in daytime I will see if DP can get some time off work.

Am really glad I asked. Why am I feeling pressured by the estate agent? He doesn't give a rat's arse about us, I'm sure ...

schoolgovernor Sat 09-Feb-13 16:12:21

I think there are a couple of things you need to find out. How is the freehold managed? Is there a company that is employed by the owners of the freehold that will be billing you for things like ground rent and maintenance charges? In other words, how are the joint costs managed?
Have you checked to find out if your management/maintenance fees are reasonable?
Also Google the name of your freeholders and any management company that they use. There are some absolute horrors about who are definitely to be avoided.
I'd actually be as concerned about finding out this information as I'd be about visiting at different times of the day and wondering about who is downstairs. After all, even if the downstairs neighbour is fine, sadly they could move.

mrsbunnylove Sat 09-Feb-13 23:17:13

I could always blast Idlewild out at full volume
always worthwhile. i saw them live about fifty times. can't tell you exactly, as i lost count. used to be three times a fortnight in 1998...

Lovecat Sat 09-Feb-13 23:48:24

Is the OP back? Or has she been chopped up and fed to the pitbulls?

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