Search

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

Archant

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told his neighbours about what had happened, they were horrified and lawyers were instructed in a bid to have the deal rescinded.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was resolved, but his friends, family and neighbours were so angry that they decided to keep fighting to have the deal rescinded.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.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

14:03
Inside the Royal Free's 
infectious disease unit where Ebola patients are treated. Picture: Nigel Sutton

A military healthcare worker who was admitted to the Royal Free after testing positive for the deadly Ebola virus has been discharged today.

12:00
Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail in Lissenden Gardens, Gospel Oak. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Whenever Sir Keir Starmer is profiled by the national press much is made of the first name he shares with Labour pioneer Keir Hardie.

08:00
Martin Narraway, Highgate Labour councillor Sally Gimson, co-chairman of SLRA John Slater and Michael Zagor campaign against chains moving to Swain's Lane. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Chain coffee shops and high street stores could move into a shopping parade beloved for its independent businesses under an agreement initially drawn up to protect its rural character.

11:34
Keith Wynn  chatting to MP Bob Neill during a visit to Photocraft in 2012

Hampstead’s photo shop to the stars is celebrating its 50th year in the village with an Easter day of fun tomorrow.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

The captain stunned his passengers with a heartfelt message on a flight that took off just hours after the doomed Germanwings plane.

Mark Zuckerberg confirms the first test flight of its solar-powered drones has taken place in UK skies.

Digital Edition

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


Our trusted business finder