Reposession Victim Bailed Out

With £12,000 from his estate agent!

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A Putney home-owner facing repossession will today escape homelessness thanks to his estate agent, no less, who has stumped up £12,000 from his personal bank account to stop his mortgage lender foreclosing.

Ian Rees, a marketing project manager and father, found himself getting into arrears with the mortgage on his three bed house in Dyers Lane, Putney, as the freelance work that had supported him all his life fell away in the post-2008 recession. For a while he struggled but finally had to admit he could no longer afford to keep his house and would have to downsize. However, he had only a very small mortgage with Barclays and plenty of equity: selling the house and buying something smaller would clear his debts, pay off his mortgage and still keep a roof over his teenage daughter’s head.

So in October 2010, Ian appointed Putney estate agent and its director Luke Bennett to sell the property. Mr Bennett said:
“It was quite an easy house to sell.  The start of 2011 saw a revival in the market and so by January we’d found Mr Rees a buyer. The sale progressed quite normally, though not that rapidly. It’s not too unusual for a sale to take some months from first offer to completion when there’s a chain, especially as, in this case, the buyers wanted a second survey. It was slightly slow but I was confident the house would sell.”

Ian Rees said:
“2011 started so well.  I’d been struggling for three years, especially after a mix-up with Barclays over paying off my mortgage with an endowment, and now the end was in sight. My daughter would never have to know how bad things had become.”

Mr Rees continued:
“The trouble was, Barclays wasn’t interested in seeing this process through. In May - literally just a couple of weeks before we expected to exchange contracts - they decided to foreclose. They told me I had to pay them £12,000 within a week or I would lose the house ... that close to the sale! They weren’t even prepared to wait a few more weeks. I can only say that they were complete bar stewards.”

Suddenly a nightmare erupted for Mr Rees::
“It was nerve-racking. My daughter was getting ready for her GCSEs: I couldn’t tell her we were about to be thrown out onto the street. My father had also just had a heart attack, so I was desperately worried about him, and then Barclays landed this bizarre and callous decision on me. I suddenly found myself in a living hell.

“And to make matters worse, my buyers somehow found out this confidential information about my circumstances, which put them in a strong bartering position. They wanted to renegotiate the price, which could mean a further delay and was exactly what I didn’t need where Barclays was concerned. How they found out I’ll never know.”

Matters came to a head in Luke Bennett’s office at
“With Ian’s permission, we had a conference call with his lender: Ian, the lender and me. And it became completely clear that, although we were so close to the sale, Ian had to come up with the £12k straight away or it would all go pear-shaped for him. They weren’t budging.”

Ian: “And then, to my complete amazement, Luke offered to lend me the money out of his own pocket. I was amazed. Flabbergasted.”

Luke: “I could see that the house sale was good and I knew I’d get my money back from Ian. So rather than see the bailiffs walk in, this close to exchange, I thought I’d help.”

Barclays was paid, the buyers lost their negotiating advantage and so a new price was agreed which satisfied both parties and, in the first week of July, contracts were exchanged. And on July 22, the sale completes, Ian and his daughter move into a new home, Barclays gets the remainder of the arrears and Luke has his loan repaid (and his commision paid).

Ian summarises: “Over the last couple of months I’ve been to hell and back.  It was a despicable act and I never want to deal with Barclays again. But thanks to Luke Bennett and, the worst didn’t happen. Unless she reads this story, my daughter will never know how close she came to losing her home with me and, from today, I’m living debt-free and mortgage-free in a fantastic maisonette convenient for my daughter’s school.”

Luke concludes: “I’m just pleased I was able to do something. A few weeks ago poor Ian was at his wit’s end and now, whenever I see him, he grins widely. He’s a different man.”

And the last word from Ian Rees: “We all know about the reputation of estate agents. Everyone likes to have a go at them. But I can honestly say that it’s undeserved where Luke and are concerned. They were great estate agents anyway, with faultless service, and this was generosity above and beyond business: a genuine act of human kindness.”

July 25, 2011