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No move to tropical island for man whose house won't sell

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

  • WAITING GAME: Andrew Smith's plan to move to the Cayman Islands, above, has been hit by fears of houses near his home

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UNCERTAINTY over a major development in Cheltenham has added to the troubles of a man at risk of losing his home and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Former HGV driver Andrew Smith wants to sell his house so he can move to the Cayman Islands, where the weather is better for his rheumatoid arthritis. But he says he has been left in limbo as plans to build hundreds of new homes have not come to fruition – yet continue to put off buyers.

The 51-year-old has been trying to sell his Uckington home in Tewkesbury Road for the past five years.

But he believes potential buyers have been put off as it is next to land earmarked for hundreds of homes.

He has also had no luck trying to sell his house to developers.

Mr Smith, who grew up in Whaddon, moved to his home in spring 2005.

In 2007 he was forced to put his house on the market for around £250,000.

He had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and had to leave his job, but it meant meeting his mortgage repayments was a challenge.

He said: "It seems very unfair. The plans for the fields nearby were so massive and the estate agents said it was this putting buyers off.

"I'm unable to maintain the mortgage payments and if I lose the house it will mean being on housing benefits and needing extra support from the government."

Land between Swindon Village, Uckington and Elmstone Hardwicke was previously earmarked for housing developments under the now defunct Regional Spatial Strategy.

Campaigners believe the land is still under threat from future developments.

Sales negotiator James Russell, from Andrews Estate Agents in Bath Road, said: "Something like that certainly can out potential buyers off.

"New regulations that have just come in say we have to tell people about anything like this before they make a financial commitment.

"But there are other factors such as the right buyer may not have come along or he might be expecting too much for it."

Councillor Ray Theodoulou, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for finance, said: "We keep all of our assets under review and any future applications would be decided by the local planning authorities, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils."

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  • tishwash  |  December 30 2012, 4:11PM

    what has it been valued at ? not what has he put it on at, that may be what Andrews are hinting at in their quote.

  • NibNobs  |  December 29 2012, 4:40PM

    spindles12, They say current house prices have gone back to 2005 values, so that makes it somewhere between £149,950 the value in 2003 to say £165,000 in 2005. But now with the planned houses next door and on that dreadful main road with 24 hour traffic noise from the M5 J10, I'd say £150,000 tops. At the £300,000 price tag on Zoopla - sounds more like the price is for a swop for a small bungalow in the Cayman's! £300k, £250k.... dream on!

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  • raidermanuk  |  December 29 2012, 4:35PM

    spindles12 There was a planning application for a dropped curb (I think) in 2004 which included a "home-drawn" plan. This seemed to indicate that some land to the left of the property was not, at that time, in the ownership of Mr Smith. Current plans suggest that it may now be within the ownership of Mr Smith and it may also be that the previous owner retained a right of way over it.

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  • spindles12  |  December 29 2012, 3:39PM

    There's a house on Zoopla which looks EXACTLY like this one, even down to the lantern on the gate and the same buildings in the background. It has an agent's sales details dated October 2010 which say that it's a detached house and the asking price is £300,000. Zoopla on the other hand says that it's a semi - which of course is what it looks like - and their current value is £192,172. It was previously sold in 2003 for £149,950 so has never been anywhere near the £300,000, even in the boom times. With a note at the bottom of the sales details mentioning the property having a right of way down the side of the driveway of the adjoining property and it being "of strategic importance with future planning consent" maybe that doesn't help either. Advice to Mr. Smith, drop your price to, say, £185,000 and see how quick it flies.

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  • Takeaway01  |  December 29 2012, 2:44PM

    The house and property have a value. Could £250,000 be asking too much. The old adage "an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay" comes into mind. Either way, good luck to Andrew Smith.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  December 29 2012, 11:35AM

    £250,000!!??? ...... does that include any land? Have the plans for the new homes been on hold for 5 years then? I can empathise with someone who is facing bankruptcy but, asking too much for your house is only going to prolong the inevitable.

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  • raidermanuk  |  December 29 2012, 11:02AM

    Having local development uncertainty will hold back a property for sale as will proximity to a railway, motorway and a host of other negative factors. That said you never see these properties remaining empty for any length of time. It usually comes down to one significant factor - PRICE. He doesn't have to give it away but it must be competitive otherwise it simply will not sell. As others have said, it's not news, just someone having difficulty selling their property through not coming to terms with the current market dynamics.

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  • NibNobs  |  December 29 2012, 10:56AM

    Looks like he could build 2 houses on the driveway, sell those, rent the existing house out and he has both cash to buy a new home in the Cayman Islands and will have a rental income of £750+ a month for the rest of his life. Simple!

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  • thomas1996  |  December 29 2012, 10:47AM

    He wonders why it's taken 5 years to sell his property - could it have something to do with the ridiculous £250,000 price tag - looks like an ex-council semi worth £125-150k to me using those post-war cheap bricks. As for the estate agent saying with the new rule that they have to tell potential purchasers of a nearby major development - yes thank goodness you do, but i'll bet you never used to say anything!

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  • ShorterNews  |  December 29 2012, 10:02AM

    When you take out a mortgage on a property, it's a gamble like any other investment. Things happen; prices fluctuate, economies dip and rise, people fall ill and lose jobs, neighbouring developments undoubtedly occur as populations rise. We can all whinge about these things. After all, no one likes to lose money. But as RedRobin points out, this isn't news. I'd love to be able to cash in my property and move to Australia, but it's not going to happen for many reasons. In fact, i'd love to be able to sell up and move to a better house in a quieter, safer location 2 miles up the road, in order to give my kids a better life. But I can't. That's life. Proposed developement and arthritis do not make this a story worth reading.

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