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Considering a property that has been on the market for years...

(21 Posts)
ThereMustBeACatch Sat 07-May-16 09:36:03

DH and I are looking to buy our new house and have a viewing booked for what looks like a lovely house right within our budget - we're really excited to see it!

However, one thing that is causing concern is that the house has been on the market for several years - we're in Scotland, and the Home Buyers' Report was produced five years ago. As I said we're first time buyers so not hugely familiar with the house selling and buying process, but compared to other things in the area this seems like a very long time. The price isn't too high - indeed, it's well under the surveyor's estimate. The survey indicated absolutely no apparent problems with the house and other properties in the same development have been sold whilst this one has been on the market.

Obviously we can ask the owner and the agent about this, but are there any reasons/problems that we should be looking out for that the owner or agent might not be keen to highlight?

The other thing that concerns me is that even if everything is absolutely fine and we buy the house, if it took this long to sell this time around we'd have the same difficulty selling it on in the future - and it is definitely a 'starter' rather than a 'forever' home.

ThereMustBeACatch Sat 07-May-16 09:36:40

Sorry, didn't finish my second question! Has anyone had experience buying a house that had been on the market for a long time and then selling it later without too much difficulty?

sorenipples Sat 07-May-16 10:19:05

We bought a house which had been on the market for years. Not likely to sell for many years, but confident it won't be an issue provided we tackle various issues first (turn an ex slum HMO to family home - replace broken windows, fresh paint, replace internal multi locked doors and broken door frames, maybe address bedroom maximising internal layout and get rid of rats).

For us the key thing was identifying why it had remained unsold, and being confident we could address it before time comes for us to sell. Our house hadn;t been helped by vendor unwilling to sell (effectively waiting for market prices to catch up with his expectation while raking it in with an unlicensed HMO) .

I would be very cautious if you can't identify a reason or it is something you can't change.

FrogFairy Sat 07-May-16 10:20:27

If the house is structurally OK then maybe an issue with neighbours or something environmental nearby, or did something awful like a murder happen there? Must be something to have put buyers off for five years.

If you buy it, could you possibly keep it and rent it out when you move on?

ShinyShinyShiny Sat 07-May-16 10:24:28

Has it definitely been on the market for all that time or could it have been taken off and put back on again?

Do you know whether it has recently been reduced? Perhaps the vendors were originally asking too much for it.

Pufflemum Sat 07-May-16 11:58:44

There is probably something wrong with the house. We have recently been through the the same. Found a beautiful house online, it had been on the market for a few years. On paper it seems perfect and mentally we had bought it. Drove up, looks gorgeous. Go into garden, massive electricity pylon right next to it. I could have cried.

Found a second house that seemed lovely, went to visit, drove past electricity station.

Third house, seems ideal, very good price, right next to busy A road, no escaping the noise form garden or kitchen.

So in conclusion, if it seems too good to be true, there will be a massive compromise. I hope I am wrong for you though. Maybe the owners has a personal reason not to sell.

BigGreenOlives Sat 07-May-16 12:00:33

Have a look on google earth and on the local council's planning portal to see if there are any major developments planned.

parmalilac Sat 07-May-16 12:02:11

Check local council planning - maybe something awful is planned nearby and locals know about it? Is it near a tip/chemical plant/other noisy/smelly business? You need to have a good recce and at different times of day. Also knock on doors and ask people.

RTKangaMummy Sat 07-May-16 12:11:43

Was it a full building survey or one of the shorter ones?

When we were selling our old house one surveyor just walked around the rooms occasionally tapping the walls. He was only there about 10 mins

We were shocked that this was classed as a survey for a 1920s house

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Sat 07-May-16 13:27:58

Can you find pricing history? Sometimes houses can be on the market for ages because the owner is 'not giving it away!' and persists in keeping the price far too high until the penny finally drops.

If there's no obvious downside (dark, north facing garden/something noisy or ugly nearby/difficult neighbours/flood risk/some planning issue in the pipeline) then maybe the house just doesn't have a nice, comfortable feel to it. I don't know why, but some houses just don't.

LizzieMacQueen Sat 07-May-16 13:34:29


We'll give you our opinions.

BreakfastAtSquiffanys Sat 07-May-16 13:43:07

Can you find out from agent if the sellers have found somewhere to buy?
It might be that sales haven't gone through as seller hasn't been able to proceed,

AGrinWithoutACat Sat 07-May-16 16:19:34

Our house sat for years before we bought it despite it being a reasonably priced family sized home, detached with off road parking

We looked and fell in love, then took a builder and electrician round and had a timber and damp survey - our home report was also several years old but the vender did get it updated for the mortgage company

to give you an idea of why this house sat for so long

So far the electrics (old but checked out ok - phew!)
New coping (sp?) stones on the roof
Woodworm treated
Damp wood removed and replaced
Old leaking hot water tank removed and new boiler installed
Storage heaters removed and central heating fitted
Drainage added to garden

To do
Rendering needs redone
Large shed needs pulled down and rebuilt before it falls down itself
Very dated decor and worn carpets needing replaced
More work needed done to improve drainage

The biggest issue we found was that there was a flood history and this made getting insurance eyewateringly challenging

Do have the building checked as if it has sat empty and may have hidden problems through not being heated/aired. There may be issues with water tanks etc

I think the point of this essay is - if you feel it is right for you go for it but do go in expecting problems and be prepared to do the work needed to bring it up to standard

EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard Sat 07-May-16 16:57:31

OP, do you know if it's being sold by a couple? because sometimes in the event of a breakup, one party doesn't want to sell. Just a thought if you can't find out any other reason.

ThereMustBeACatch Sat 07-May-16 20:09:55

Thanks everyone for their thoughts!

Pricing - I'm fairly certain from the survey that the owners had it from brand new, so there's no pricing history on this particular house. That said another place we're looking at in the same area shows new builds that really depreciated in value from brand new to 10 years old so perhaps the sellers are having difficulty dealing with a similar fall in value on this place.

Condition - it's such a relatively new house and the survey was so positive I'd be surprised if there were any massively expensive problems, but we will be on the look out and if in any doubts will get a more in-depth survey done (will have to get a new HBS for a mortgage anyway).

I think suggestions of personal issues (neighbours, divorce etc) may be on the nose. It may also be a combination of slightly reluctant buyers with not very good estate agents - these particular agents have quite a few similarly 'stagnant' properties on their books, which isn't the case with other agents in the area.

Is it acceptable to ask the owner straight out (in a polite fashion, of course!) why it's been on the market so long? The viewing is owner-led.

PlaymobilPirate Sat 07-May-16 20:13:14

My Mam's house has been on the market for 5+ years. They've had lots of offers but haven't found their next property yet (they have a ridiculously small search area so they're waiting for one to come up --which will probably be never--)

SheriffCallie Sat 07-May-16 20:43:37

Me. The house we bought 2 years ago had been on the market for 5years. We were dubious, but
viewed it and fell in love immediately. We spent 6m before exchange, terrified it would fall through but searches and survey were all standard.
Why I think it was on so long:
-Slump in the market and people were being cautious. Sale agreed twice but one couldn't get the mortgage and the others couldn't sell their own property.
- vendors were inflexible over price. It has been valued at height of the market and I think they were focused on the 'loss'.
- layout is a bit too unconventional for some. We know other families who viewed and thought it wouldn't work for them. We are changing and extending to make it more conventional, but I want to keep some of the quirkiness too.

It's a long term house for us so I'm less worried re the resale. But the market lifting and the changes we've made should make it easier should we need to.

starry0ne Sat 07-May-16 20:49:42

Yes this is a business deal with an awful lot of money so yes I would ask the question but also consider other answers as well.

Fingers crossed for you

Kirriemuir Sat 07-May-16 21:33:35

I am a Scottish EA.

parts of the country were hit badly and have only started to re-cover since 2014. It could be a bad estate agent. The HR should have been replaced once things started to pick up. A 5 year old HR isn't doing anyone any favours. I'll look if you want me to. You can pm me if you like.

Palomb Sat 07-May-16 21:36:50

There are a pair of neighbouring houses where I live that have been on the market for 3 years for exactly the same price. They are both lovely but we didn't view them. I recon there must be some kind of neighbour dispute going on.

snowspider Sun 08-May-16 07:48:19

We are trying to buy in West wales at the moment and our problem is houses that have been on the market for years and have unrealistic price tags (and stubborn owners). Some have been for sale for 5, 6, 7, 8 years...i have even seen one that was on the market since 2003. I am generally put off even viewing some of these because i assume they are not really for sale. We have tried to buy one that we were very keen on that has been for sale since 2011 and had three different agents, but our best and final offer didn't even get a counter offer. we are cash buyers but the agent response was "well the house was possibly over-priced for the first 3 years but we are now getting more online viewings". The owner is 70 this year and wants to downsize, it is an unusual property for various reasons and I fail to understand why she won't budge but people are stubborn when they perceive a "loss". She has been there since 1999 has no mortgage and would still be 200k over what she paid for it if she accepted our offer.

So a combination of price and personal reasons plus probably would be buyers not viewing because it has been on for so long is my guess.

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