The upper maisonette of 17 Broxash Road, London SW11 6AD was marketed by Property World at the end of June 2012 for £625,000. I was the first person to view the property and subsequently made an offer that was eventually accepted. The flat had been rented out for 15 years, was in need of updating, had visible structural damage to a party wall on the first and second floor caused by a neighbours extension in 2007 which was never repaired, a lease with 76 years remaining and an unknown private freeholder not resident in the building.
Despite these obstacles I was still keen to proceed and agreed an offer price of £597,500. Four weeks passed between making my first offer and for my third offer to be finally accepted. During that time I heard very little from the Property World whilst the seller was apparently investigating the lease extension with the freeholder. When my offer was finally accepted, it was envisaged that a Section 42 lease extension notice would be served and transferred in to my name on exchange of contracts so it would not hold up the flat purchase.
When the seller's solicitor finally got in touch at the end of July 2012, my solicitors' review of the lease identified that the roof and the roof voids were not demised within the flat and the freeholder's permission was needed for any internal alterations. Due to the flat's poor condition, I wished to update the property and create a dormer loft conversion like every other house in the street as the existing loft conversion within the natural ¢â‚¬Å“v¢â‚¬Â of the roof was sub-standard. With the permission and co-operation of the seller and despite it being August and the Olympics, I negotiated a 90 year lease extension to include the loft space for £33,500 with the freeholder.
At this point, only 3 weeks had passed since my final offer was accepted and everything appeared to be proceeding accordingly. I had no related sale, my mortgage was agreed, the structural survey had been completed and my legal fees were over £2,000. Subject to documenting the lease extension with the freeholder, I was in a position to exchange contracts.
On 16 August 2012, I received an email from the Property World saying the seller would not sell to me and was going to re-let the flat, extend the lease himself and re-market the property in the future. I was not even extended the courtesy of a phone call.
As we had previously agreed to a statutory lease extension which would not hold up the sale, and as we were now extending the lease and buying the roof space by way of private agreement as part of the sale, the owner withdrew on the basis that this was not agreed at the outset and it would cause an unacceptable delay. He claimed that 3 weeks had passed already but forgot about the 4 weeks he took to accept my offer.
We had agreement in writing with the freeholder's surveyor regarding the lease/loft so it was merely a matter of legal process to document it. I was initially reluctant to engage my solicitor to draw up the private contract to do this given the expenses I had incurred to date and I did not have total faith in the seller, a concern that was well grounded.
There are a number of fundamental problems with the flat and thanks to the improved lease terms I had negotiated with the freeholder, the seller has no doubt realised that these should have been addressed in advance and if he does so himself then he can capitalise on the opportunity. To accentuate the seller's position, he had evicted the tenants in the flat which had been empty for a number of weeks.
Property World were polite and friendly but for long periods there was no communication at all, they had little experience of the lease extension process and don't normally sell properties in Clapham. There is also a conflict of interest, which was disclosed to me, as the owners of Property World and the owner of 17 Broxash Road are related.
Please do not interpret this review as sour grapes, I was aware of what I doing and prepared to take a leap of faith with the seller, a faith that was not repaid and I incurred over £3,000 in costs. I hope this information proves useful to the next potential buyer and they do not suffer from similar treatment.