Solicitor’s warning after estate agent almost sells pensioner’s £2m house for half price

09:30 14 February 2014

A frail pensioner

A frail pensioner's £2million house in this St John's Wood street was almost sold for half its real value. Picture: Polly Hancock


A solicitor has warned people to be wary of estate agents’ leaflets through the door after a frail pensioner’s £1.8million house was almost sold for half its true value.

Owen Hill, 88, died before the dispute about the sale of his home was resolvedOwen Hill, 88, died before the dispute about the sale of his home was resolved

Owen Hill, 88, was living alone when he agreed to sell his house for £1m – not realising the property in Charles Lane, St John’s Wood, was worth closer to £2m.

Solicitor Barry Samuels, a commercial litigator at city law firm GSC Solicitors LLP, who helped Mr Hill’s family to stop the sale, said: “We all get these leaflets through our doors saying, ‘we’ve got people looking for properties in this area’.

“The first warning sign is, if you do call an agent in and they then say ‘How much do you want for your house?’ Never answer the question and never tell them, just ask, ‘How much is it worth in the market place?’

“Whatever age you are, that’s the first warning sign. We were lucky in this case because people had power of attorney for Mr Hill, but it is deplorable.”

Papers submitted to the London Mercantile Court reveal Mr Hill had received a letter through his door last March from Bargets estate agent, saying they had people interested in buying homes in the area.

As it appeared to be personally addressed to Mr Hill, he replied. Estate agent Malcolm Collins then visited the property, asking Mr Hill how much he wanted for his home.

The pensioner – who was very frail – said he wanted £1m and Mr Collins then called his brother-in-law, Jason Harris, a property dealer, who immediately offered Mr Hill’s asking price.

The pair introduced Mr Hill to a lawyer and contracts were exchanged, at a price of just under £1m.

But when Mr Hill told his neighbours about what had happened, they were horrified and lawyers were instructed in a bid to have the deal rescinded.

Mr Hill died before the dispute was resolved, but his friends, family and neighbours were so angry that they decided to keep fighting to have the deal rescinded.

The deal was called off in July and the executors of Mr Hill’s will then sold the property on the open market for £1.815m. Bargets has now settled out of court for the legal fees incurred by the claimants.

Neil Stone, who owns Bargets estate agents, in Park Road, Regent’s Park, said the company had meant to have the deal 
rescinded immediately, but there had been delays.

“I personally apologise to everyone involved,” he said. “It will never happen again. We do not have a black mark against us as estate agents.

“I am a member of the National Association of Estate Agents and we co-operate with the ombudsman. It was a genuine error and we went to enormous lengths to rectify it.”


Latest News Stories

Victims of the contaminated blood scandal: (left) Nick Hirsch, (right, from top) Clair Walton and her late husband, Colette Wintle and Mark Ward

Timetable for settlement on NHS scandal has slipped yet again say campaigners - as they wait to see if cash is allocated in chancellor’s autumn spending review

The London Fire Brigade has put forward proposals to axe 13 fire engines to save £11million

‘While a new website would be welcome, this should not be done at the cost of frontline cuts’ says fire resources committee chief

Yesterday, 18:01
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

The two young men from Kentish Town who left the UK to fight for Islamic State (IS) in Syria are former pupils of Acland Burghley School.

Yesterday, 16:46
The government says the HPV vaccine is safe and will protect against deaths from cervical cancer

East Finchley mother accuses pharmaceutical industry and government of ‘ignoring generation of sick girls’ as European Medicines Agency finds no link between illnesses and cervical cancer jab

Yesterday, 15:58
Carl Ryan, who is charged with misconduct in a public office, outside court (Picture: Central News)

A detective who faked records - including witness statements by Whittington Hospital staff - thwarted three investigations into serious sex assaults, a court heard.

Yesterday, 12:18
Firefighters from West Hampstead were called to tackle the large blaze in Finchley Road - which burned for 72 hours

West Hampstead and Hornsey fire stations could both lose an engine under controversial cost-cutting proposals

Yesterday, 10:04
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

Two sons of a nursery teacher at a Kentish Town primary school have fled the UK to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Mon, 18:54
Counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco pouches, fake duty stamps, and other packaging seized during the raid

Warning over danger to public health as illicit tobacco products worth £11,000 taken off streets

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder