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Can we get 'first refusal' on a house which will be coming on the market?

(19 Posts)
RebeccaH879 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:09:01

We would like to buy a house in a very sought after village near us. The owner of the house is a family friend, very elderly, very practical and sadly very unwell. At the moment they are 'getting their finances into order' - having their house valued etc - as I said, they are eminently sensible and organised and still mentally sharp. Their estate is going to be left to charity and they did draw some of the equity out of their house a few years ago.

Are we able to approach them and offer to pay for first refusal on their house? Obviously we are expecting to pay the market value. I wouldn't even consider asking this if I thought it would distress or offend them. I actually think they might be quite pleased that their home would be lived in by a young family that they know.

Clearly this is all hugely distasteful and mawkish but does anyone know what the legal position is in this sort of situation? I think essentially the bank will be owed money because of the equity release years ago but there will be equity still on the property which will go to the charities.


icklekid Tue 23-Feb-16 06:14:07

Yes they can privately sell their house to you after getting market valuations. They don't have to use an estate agent so no need for first refusal effectively. However it is up to them but if family friends and given a reasonable offer I doubt they will refuse

RebeccaH879 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:21:29

Hi Ickle. We can't afford to buy their house until we have sold our house. Once we have sold our house we will need to live somewhere (ie the house we had bought) which we can't do if they are still living there.
We would definitely need to wait until they had died before we could buy the house but what we wondered was if we could set up something with them now so that when the bank comes to sell the house we could be the first people they approach to buy it if that makes sense.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:21:34

Yes you can have first refusal.

Make sure you let them know before they instruct an agent.

Once they have instructed an agent, and then you view and buy, the agent will be due their fee.

So drop a letter through their letterbox now.,

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:24:52

Just x posted.

I think that now sounds too complicated. The bank will be interested in getting the best possible price for the will beneficiaries so would need it to be offered on the open market for that to happen, I would imagine.

Your best bet is to try and buy it before it goes to the probate stage.

RebeccaH879 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:26:22

Sorry, I must have been a bit confusing in my post! They aren't selling their house now, they are intending to live there until they die. They are getting valuations done so that they know how much it is worth - not for moving purposes. I think they want to satisfy themselves that the charities will still receive a decent sum of money once the equity release is paid back rather than for any reasons of selling the house.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:29:40

I don't think there is a way you can ensure you get first crack at a house once the owners have died.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:30:06

....if they haven't even died yet.

Silvertap Tue 23-Feb-16 06:51:11

I've done it with farmland where there was a clause in the deceased's will giving my business first right to buy from a trust - I even had 10 years to buy it. So I would imagine in could be done with residential property but k would advise getting a solicitor to advise.

RebeccaH879 Tue 23-Feb-16 07:25:40

Thanks silvertap, that is interesting think we will need to consult a solicitor.

sleepwhenidie Tue 23-Feb-16 07:27:15

It might be something he could sell you - a put option effectively.what I mean is, is he likely to give you first refusal just because he knows you/is being nice? Actually buying the right may work better (whether you pay just the legal fees to put this in place or that plus a premium for his trouble, whether £1k or £10k...)

lalalonglegs Tue 23-Feb-16 07:49:51

If they're leaving the property to a charity, I doubt you would be able to do this. A lot of charities pursue every penny from legacies - often quite aggressively - and it wouldn't be in their interests to honour any agreement such as this proposed one. I can't think how you would broach the subject with the owner without sounding crass.

homebythesea Tue 23-Feb-16 07:52:45

The executors will be under a legal duty to maximise the return from the estate assets which means they will need to offer it on the open market regardless of whatever arrangement you may make with the current owners. And what happens if at that time you can't sell your home- do you think the estate beneficiaries should wait for an indefinite period while you sell? And what happens if the valuation is higher than you think and you can't actually afford it, or in the meantime the roof falls in and you don't have the funds to fix it! I think you just need to not enter into any kind of agreement (that personally I feel is a bit creepy) and just wait till the house goes on the market and take it from there

HereIAm20 Tue 23-Feb-16 17:05:04

Also under the terms of the equity release it is possible that the company will own the property with them having the right to remain in the property and any further capital then being paid by the company into the estate. It might not therefore be their decision to make.

SeasonalVag Tue 23-Feb-16 18:55:10

Sorry, op, the charity thing means you won't be we to get first refusal....there was a really interesting program on radio 4 a week ago about legacies and people being forced to buy back their own parents trinkets etc.

SeasonalVag Tue 23-Feb-16 18:57:22

It's in bad taste anyway to be dropping letters through door....surely if they are a family friend you can talk to them face to face

fiorentina Tue 23-Feb-16 21:41:27

From experience of offering on a house where the deceased owner had left it to charity, they were extremely demanding in terms of offers to maximise its value. With s friend in a similar situation the charity had sought planning permission for extensions and redevelopment of the site. Just warning you it may not be easy. Trustees are duty bound to raise maximum funds.

scribblegirl Wed 24-Feb-16 14:39:41

Not my area at all, but would it be possible to buy the house now and get it arranged legally that they have a right to live there rent free until they die?

Without wanting to sound incredibly crude, how long are we talking?

scribblegirl Wed 24-Feb-16 14:40:00

Sorry - probably wouldn't work as I've missed the equity release point.

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