Friday 22 January 2010


Mum's apartment has finally... finally sold.

I haven't wanted to jinx the process by posting about it before, but we found a buyer in October and it has taken this long to process, despite it being a cash purchase.

The buyer was a woman looking to relocate closer to her Son. I can see the wisdom in that, having myself undergone so much stress coping with Mum's deterioration over a distance of 250 miles.

The apartment cost Mum £195,000 back in 2002 and would doubtlessly have fetched well over £200,000 if I'd put it up for sale in 2007. While I concentrated on getting Mum settled, and fretted over my responsibility for the dismantling of her life, the market slumped. When I put the place on the market in last June, the agent suggested that I ask for just £175,000. I held out for £185,000 and we achieved a figure halfway between the two. After Estate Agent and Solicitor fees and a last-minute nasty surprise, I'm left with £172,000.

Not having a copy of the Lease, I was pretty disgusted to find out that we would lose a further 2% of the proceeds as fees to the Managing Agents for the property. These jokers really gouge the residents and provide a minimum of service in return and these 'transfer' and 'contingency' fees are outrageous. I'm tempted to remind them that their representative at this block is currently in court, accused of a massive theft from a couple of residents. I've been grateful that there was no publicity about this whilst I was trying to sell Mum's flat, but I've a lot less to lose by going to the papers now. I wonder if they might let these charges go?

Up until this week, I had been intending to use the proceeds of the sale to buy another property and then rent that out to cover the shortfall in Mum's Care Home fees. Specifically, I had decided to purchase the house I am living in, enabling me to be free to relocate whilst also keeping the asset in our family (this house is set to appreciate in value due to a nearby development). I was getting quite giddy exploring my options. However, I've taken advice from a Financial Advisor and concluded that the best place for Mum's money is an Insurance Bond (a "with-profits bond with income"). If I invest the full amount, we will be able to take up to 5% interest out each year as income. What's more, the money will be tax-free and not counted towards any future Revenue means-testing. At the moment, 4% just about covers the shortfall.

So, that's the end of that. Even though it was not our family home, it feels odd to let the place go, and I still feel a vestige of guilt whenever I act on Mum's behalf in financial dealings. It's a similar feeling to when I'm in an airport and walking through the "nothing to declare" Customs channel. Although I've never had anything to hide, I still always feel guilty and end up forgetting how to walk casually, and I probably look shifty as hell whilst attempting to broadcast my innocence. I found myself doing a similar thing with the Financial Advisor.