A chronic shortage of housing and suitable sites in London has given rise to a radical and innovative new business idea.
You Spot Property pays people for identifying rundown or derelict properties in London, whose owners may be willing to sell. This allows buyers to capture an “off the market” bargain, and avoid crowded auction rooms in the process.
The business was set up two years ago by former bankers Benjamin Radstone and Nick Kalms, who are passionate about rescuing property and turning empty houses into well-loved homes. They pay M&S or Amazon vouchers worth £20 to those who identify suitable properties. The pair have given out 1,700 vouchers worth £34,000 since starting the business two years ago, and have bought more than 200 houses in the city.
Although you won’t get a voucher if the home doesn’t appear derelict, or if they already have it on their books, spotters do receive 1% of the price paid for the identified home if a transaction eventually goes through.
Nick and Benjamin start a conversation with owners in 70% of cases and spotters have already cashed in in this way. The company paid out £8,800 as a bonus to a neighbour when the property he identified in south-west London was finally bought.
However, with housing stock in London being in such short supply, it is no surprise that the profits which can be made from renovating derelict and dilapidated homes can be extraordinary. While improving and re-introducing existing housing stock to the market is helpful, it is only a very small part of the solution. What we really need in London, and around the country, is new homes.