Buying land or property from the Council

This page explains the Council’s requirements of purchasers and what purchasers can expect when buying property from the Council. We have also set out some things that we think should be kept in mind when you are thinking about buying a Council property or plot of land.

This information does not relate to auction sales.

Making or accepting an offer

The main terms upon which the council is prepared to sell a property or piece of land will be set out in the published sales details which may be obtained from the council’s website.

If you are a special purchaser and have been negotiating direct with the Council the main sale terms will be set out in the Council’s offer letter to you.

When deciding to make or accept an offer we recommend that you consider the following:

  1. How much is the land and property worth to you? What is the maximum amount that you are willing or able to pay?
  2. Do you have the purchase monies in place? If not, how will you raise finance and how long will this take?
  3. Do you need professional advice about the value of the property or do you want to appoint someone to negotiate on your behalf?
    Chartered Surveyors specialise in the valuation of land and property and buying and selling property. If you wish to get advice from a surveyor the RICS( ) can provide you with details of suitably qualified surveyors.
  4. Look at recent sales of similar property types and how much they sold for to give you an indication of market value.
  5. Make sure that you understand what any restrictions or conditions of sale set out in the sales details or offer letter mean. If you are unsure you might want to speak to a chartered surveyor or solicitor.
  6. Consult the Council’s Planning Department if you intend to change the use of the land or property or develop it to make sure that you will be able to use the property how you want to.
  7. Make sure that you have considered the purchase costs that you will have to pay when deciding whether you wish to make an offer. Purchase costs such as legal and survey costs etc are payable in addition to the purchase price.

If, having considered the above you wish to buy a Council property the sales details will tell you how to make an offer.

If you are a special purchaser in direct negotiations with the Council the letter that we send to you detailing the main terms upon which we are prepared to sell a property will tell you what you need to do next.

When selling properties the Council is required to obtain best consideration which is not always the same thing as best price. When considering offers and also the progress of a sale the Council will have regard to a number of factors including its costs of keeping the property until a sale is completed.

Purchase costs

The following are examples of typical purchase costs. You may have to pay other costs which are not listed here.

  1. The Council’s costs – the Council requires purchasers to make a contribution toward its purchase costs; this is a condition of sale.
    The amount that the Council requires a purchaser to pay will be set out in the published sales details. If costs are not set out in the sales details or you are a special purchaser and the property has not been marketed the Council’s costs will be set out in the letter sent to you explaining the Council’s main sale terms.
    You may be required to pay all or part of the Council’s costs when your offer is accepted.
  2. Your own costs – legal and surveyors.
  3. Cost of surveys – you may wish to obtain your own surveys.
  4. Cost of planning application – if you intend to change the use of a property or develop it.
  5. VAT – the sales details or offer letter from the Council will tell you whether or not the sale is subject to VAT. If it is you will be required to pay VAT in addition to the sale price.

If your offer has been accepted

The case officer responsible for managing the sale will advise you if your offer has been accepted and whether there are any terms that the Council is prepared to negotiate on. The case officer is your first point of contact for any matter concerning the sale of a property.

If your offer is accepted the Council will regard the property as being ‘sold subject to contract’. This means that an offer has been accepted and the terms of the sale contract are being agreed. Please note that a property is not sold until contracts are signed and exchanged. The Council may receive other offers to buy a property after an offer has been accepted and is duty bound to consider these until such time as sale contracts have been exchanged.

The case officer will progress the sale of the property diligently and in a timely manner. In return we require purchasers to progress negotiations and exchange of contract also in a timely manner. The Council may require purchasers to agree to meet certain milestones which may be amended by agreement.

If you are having difficulty progressing your purchase you should speak to the case officer as soon as possible as we will withdraw the offer to sell a property if, in our opinion, a purchaser is failing to progress the purchase. If this happens we may offer to sell the property to someone else or remarket it. The Council will deduct its costs from any upfront contribution to costs that you have paid.

If at anytime you are unsure about what you are agreeing to you should seek independent advice from a solicitor or Chartered Surveyor. The case officer will do his/her best to explain things to you but you should remember that the case officer is acting on behalf of the Council as vendor.

Your concerns

If you are concerned about the way that a sale is or was handled by the council you should speak to the case officer in the first instance.

If you are still not happy please ask to speak to the Estate Manager – Investment and Acquisitions. The case officer will let you have contact details or ask the Estate Manager to contact you.

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