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Home Resident Housing Empty Homes Buying an Empty Home

Buying an Empty Home


Summary (optional)
Buying an empty home can sometimes be a good first step towards home ownership, but as every empty home has its own story, finding one to buy (and then buying it) is not always straightforward.
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Because of Data Protection, we cannot provide anyone with a list of empty properties which are owned by individuals, although we frequently get requests to do so. In some circumstances, we can liaise between someone who is interested in an empty property, and the owner of that property, providing no personal information is disclosed without consent in the process.

How to identify an empty home

There are a number of ways to identify an empty home.

If you know the area in which you want to live, try an on-foot survey to identify any properties that appear empty – although it’s worth noting that not every property that looks neglected is actually empty.

Estate Agents and Auction Houses 


Estate agents and auction house websites are useful sources of information about empty properties. Some estate agents may be able to guide you on which of their properties are empty but, if not, the interior photographs can often provide the answer. Auction websites publish lists of properties to be auctioned in the near future, and can often be used for empty properties which are in poorer condition and may require a cash purchase.

Auctions are also used to sell properties which have been repossessed by lenders, or by Local Authorities where they are dealing with a property through compulsory purchase or enforced sale.


Specialist websites

There are a few websites which advertise building land for sale, some of which may already include an empty property:

The National Building Plot Register

PlotBrowser

Details of historic, mainly empty buildings which have been neglected and are in need of repair can be found through Save Britain’s Heritage

Public Request for Disposal (PROD)


This is a little known piece of legislation from the Local Government and Planning Land Act 1980. A PROD allows an individual to encourage a public landowner to take action over derelict publicly-owned land or even be compelled to put it up for sale.

Finding the owner


It is sometimes difficult to establish who owns an empty property, as not all properties have been registered with Land Registry, or are liable for Council Tax.

Here are other methods you could try to identify the owner of an empty home:

Neighbours


Neighbours will sometimes know who the owner of an empty home is. If you explain to them why you want to know they may be willing to assist.

Land Registry


Many properties are registered at the Land Registry. Anyone can register to open an account, and for a small fee, check the title register for any registered properties for useful information, such as ownership, restrictive covenants, charges, and so on. The title register may also include a current address for the owner.

Further Advice


Where the name of the owner is known, it may be possible to trace him/her through telephone directories, birth marriage and death records, or the Electoral Register.

The following links contain other useful information on finding property owners:

Directgov – Research your local, family or house history

British Library guide to tracing living people

National Archives guides to tracing missing persons and looking for a person

Reviewing Your Options


Before buying any property (empty or otherwise), it is useful to consider whether or not it makes financial good sense. Aspects to consider include:

  • How much is the property worth now?
  • How much would it be worth in a refurbished condition?
  • How much would it cost to renovate?
  • If I choose to rent it, how much rental income would I be likely to receive?


If you plan to rent the property out and have not been a landlord previously, please click on the link below for information about ‘Renting out an empty home’ http://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Housing/Empty-Homes/Renting-out-an-empty-home.aspx

Surveys & Valuations


For example, you could seek advice from local estate agents and a surveyor as to the property’s value now and once you have renovated it.

Mortgages


As already stated, it can prove difficult to obtain a mortgage on a property which is in particularly poor condition, including empty homes. If you want to apply for a mortgage both to buy and renovate a property, you may be asking for more than the property is currently worth. From a lender’s perspective, lending in these circumstances is high risk because, if the mortgage or loan is not repaid, the property may not be worth enough to repay the outstanding debt.

The Empty Homes Agency lists the following as some of the lenders who have mortgage products which may be suitable for the purchase of empty properties.

  • The Ecology Building Society
  • Buildstore
  • The Co-operative Bank


For information and advice on finding a lender, contact the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

VAT

In some circumstances, it is possible to benefit from a reduced rate of VAT for the renovation of an empty property. For more information, click on the following link: https://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Housing/Empty-Homes/Renovating-a-long-term-empty-dwelling-and-reduced-rate-VAT.aspx

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