What Happens to Empty Homes?

We’ve all seen them. A once beautiful home with original features stood derelict. Boarded up and consigned to the scrap heap. Yet these houses still have a lot of potential.

A little TLC and, of course, investment they could be restored to their former glories. In a time when the Government admits there is not enough housing, what happens to these empty homes?

Homes and Communities Agency’s Role

Around 3% of all homes in England are empty and it is part of the Government’s plan to get as many as possible back into use. The Homes and Communities agency has the job of getting these properties back as lived-in homes and the Government has pledged £70m to this cause. Often this job will include finding out who is the owner of a derelict house. In many cases, the owners will have run into financial difficulties and cannot find a buyer or afford to renovate the property. Some owners will not even know they own the property. Houses can be passed on by relatives that have died without the new owners knowing, so the houses become unused. On other occasions the authorities will own the properties, perhaps if they have been repossessed, and will be looking at ways to get them back into use. This can mean finding new owners.

Getting Your Hands on an Empty Home

Taking on an empty property may seem like a cheap and easy way to solve your housing issues – the reality is far from it. Finding an empty property could get you a bargain but the process requires hard work and commitment. This is because all empty have their own story of why they slipped out of use. You have to get to the bottom of that story and then see if it is still feasible to make it your own.

The first step is to find an empty property. There are a variety of ways to do this. Though it seems strange you could go to estate agents. Obviously, empty homes are not what they advertise but many agents will have them on their books. If you contact them they may have some empty homes available. As estate agents won’t give empty homes the hard sell there are also many websites emerging that will advertise such properties.

Housing auctions are also a good place to find empty homes as they are a quick way to sell homes. The other alternative is to walk the streets. Go out and find an empty home you think you could live in.

Buying an Empty Property

Finding an empty property is only half the work. You need to find out who owns it and if a sale could be possible.

If you are unsure of the owner, for a small fee the Land Registry documents will allow you to look at the records to learn the name of the owner. Remember, just because you have gone to this trouble the owner still may not want to sell.

Once you have established if the empty home is for sale, making a purchase still requires much planning. Before making an offer you will need to ensure the following:

  • Make sure you have the budget to complete any renovation work to get the house up to standard. Otherwise you may end up penniless and homeless.
  • Find out beforehand you’re allowed to do what you want to do with the home.
  • Buying a dilapidated property follows the usual rules so you will need a mortgage. Getting a mortgage and a loan for run-down home can be tricky, though there are certain lenders that specialise in this area.

Getting Advice about Buying an Empty Property

Empty homes are not always cheap as many owners will charge market value minus the cost of renovation. To help you get that bargain good advice is widely available, particularly from the charity the Empty Homes Agency.

Turning an empty home into your dream family property may take a great deal of hard work but it may be a viable and cheaper way of making that dream a reality.

By Michael Hallam

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