There's something I've been hiding from my readers since we first started this Blog in January.
Jameswood Villa is a building made up of four apartments. When Cal first went to auction, he only bought ONE apartment in the building.
We decided not to post too much about this because we were in the process of negotiating to buy the other units. Ironically, one of the first times we made it clear we hadn't bought the whole building was in our interview with the Scottish reporter who "broke" our story - but she didn't mention it in her final article!
This week was momentous for us, because we finally own Jameswood... ALL OF IT! And now I can finally tell you all about it.
The fact that Jameswood was split up into seperate apartments is likely a major contributing factor to the building falling into disrepair and becoming derelict over the years. Owners hadn't agreed to make the repairs needed to stop closing orders being put on the building, and apartments weren't sold together, or at the same time - putting off investors.
The fact that the building was split into apartments is ALSO the reason for Cal's (now famous) auction mix up. You can read more about how we accidentally bought Jameswood here.
Three of Jameswoods apartments were up for sale on the day of the auction. The first was sold to another bidder, the second was sold to Cal and the third had no bidders.
Later that day, the Auction house called Cal and asked if we'd like to buy the third apartment that had been up for sale that day.
We hadn't yet seen the place, but we knew that if the last apartment had to go to auction again, we could be waiting months before there was another investor on board for common works to commence. We saw the unsold third apartment as a loose end that needed to be tied up - so we agreed to buy the flat for a discounted auction fee.
Now we owned half the building. And this is when Cal first went and saw Jameswood. As most of you could probably guess, seeing the building for the first time was a bit of a shock. It was definitely more than the "upgrades throughout" that we were expecting from the auction description. Luckily, our good friends Barry and Dexter were there to calm Cal when he first saw the place. Together they did an initial survey of the building, and started to uncover the problems that would have to be solved to repair the building.
The bones of the building were good. Lots of work.. but we could come out alright if we carried on with the project.
The other guy who bought an apartment at auction didn't feel the same way. On his first site visit, he called us and offered us his unit. At this stage, we genuinely didn't know if we could afford to take on the whole building by ourselves. We had been hoping another builder would work on the project with us, to subsidise some of the common repairs. Luckily, taking our time to decide whether we wanted the third place worked in our favour. The guy decided to sell the unit to us at a loss.
Now we were just missing the fourth unit. It was the smallest apartment in the building - only two rooms and a tiny bathroom, but we would either need the owner on board for common repairs, or we'd have to buy the unit so we could start work on the place.
The problem is, no one knew who owned this apartment! The local pub became our investigating spot, and over the course of a few weeks, we had heard rumour after rumour about who owned the property.
The council were able to contact the owner, but the overseas landlord wouldn't speak with us, and instead, they put the apartment up for auction.
The auction house called us, and offered to sell the apartment prior to auction. They were asking for more than any other unit had sold for. And it was the smallest one.
To take the project forward, we needed that unit. But we're not the biggest fans of the way the auction house conducts their business, and we didn't want to give them any more of our money - especially to overpay for an undersized, derelict apartment. So we held out, and eventually the place was sold at auction - to another set of buyers who hadn't seen the place - for way too much.
To anyone planning on going to auction: please, please do a site visit before purchasing!
The new owners were quite shocked when they saw the state of the place they had just bought, not on a site visit, but on our blog! They contacted us once they had seen it - and we found a price somewhere in the middle - a little bit more than we had wanted to spend, but a lot less than they had paid for it at auction.
This Friday, we finally became the proud owners of Jameswood Villa - every square inch of it.
Getting here wasn't easy. It was a nerve racking experience, but we're incredibly happy with the outcome.
An unknown owner made pursuing this project very risky - but it's also what put off so many buyers in the past, and pushed the price of the property down to where we could afford it!
With great risk often comes great reward. - Of course, we have a long way to go before we can claim any reward from Jameswood, but at least we've made it past a big and stressful hurdle!
Thank you so much to everyone, for your amazing support. We are blown away by the kindness we have received from so many people, and we are very excited to share our story with you all.
Claire and Cal
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