Do you ever pass an empty property and wonder when someone is going to do something about it? Well that someone could be you - and you could make yourself a small fortune in the process. Levinia Gluck, a single mum and jewellery seller from Hendon in North London, managed to make an incredible £6,500, after spotting an empty house.
Levinia reported the empty property in Hendon to a website called YouSpotProperty.com. This site accepts submissions of any empty property, and if it meets their requirements, you'll get a £20 Amazon voucher. What's more, if the company ends up buying the property, it will reward you with 1% of the sale price.
Levinia sent them a snap of the house taken on her phone, and within a week received a £20 Amazon voucher. YouSpotProperty then tracked the owner down, and arranged to buy the house. After three months a sale was arranged, and Lavinia made 1% of the sale price - £6,500. The company also donated £500 to a local community charity.
Empty property problems
She said it isn't just about the money, she was also happy to feel the house would be used again - as it's in a great position, and was going to waste.
Whatever the reason, it's clearly crazy to have property standing empty, when people are so desperate for places to live, and rents and house prices are running so impossibly out of hand.
What can you do
You can report any empty property to your local council, which has the power to force the owner to sell to them, in order to get someone living in the property. Unfortunately the council may not have the money to spend on empty properties at the moment.
This is where companies like YouSpotProperty have found a niche. They will not force a sale. However, they can trace the owner, and encourage them to arrange a stress-free sale direct to them.
Everyone's a winner
The company stands the chance of getting the house for a knock-down price, the seller can arrange an easy sale, a local charity will be better off, and you could make thousands of pounds.
At the very least you could join the 1,700 people who have sent a snap and received a £20 voucher. This in itself can prove lucrative, as the company has one man on its books who has made more than £500 in vouchers by sending photos of empty properties.
The downside is that the firm only operates in London at the moment (although it it planning to expand), so to qualify for a voucher, the house has to be within the M25 and not already for sale. You also have to be the first to send a picture of that particular house to qualify for the money.
Of course, there's nothing stopping anyone who spots an empty property from taking advantage in the same way. You'll need to have the cash to buy the property and bring it back into use. You'll also need to put in the legwork to contact the Land Registry and the neighbours in order to track down the owners. Even then, of course, there's no guarantee they will sell to you - or consider taking anything less than the market value - but if you have the money, the charm and the patience, you could get a bargain.
Given the time, the uncertainty, and the investment required, however, the bonus for spotting a property may be more tempting.