Tips for selling a property with Japanese Knotweed
Selling a property with Japanese Knotweed can be a difficult because buyers will either need to be cash purchasers or have specialist lending. An auction sale is often the preferred route for selling a property with Japanese Knotweed.
If you discover your property or land has Japanese Knotweed growth then you’ll need to take action – it cannot be ignored. Even if you treat or remove the Japanese Knotweed before selling, by law you will still need to let the buyer know there has been a history of Japanese Knotweed on the property. This guide explains why Japanese Knotweed is a problem and provides some options for dealing with it, including the process for selling a property with Japanese Knotweed at auction.
Last updated by Mark Grantham on 5th November 2019
NEWS UPDATE: Landowners can claim damages if plant invades their property, court rules
A court of appeal hearing in July 2018 means landowners will be able to claim damages if Japanese Knotweed has encroached thier property. If it can be proved that knotweed growing in a home or garden originated on an adjoining property, that owner could be held liable for the cost of its removal and any loss of value. The decision is expected to have major implications for Network Rail because Japanese Knotweed can sometimes be found along railway lines accross England & Wales. Read the news article here.
Why is Japanese Knotweed a problem?
In its natural setting Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica) survived extremely cold winters, sometimes being covered by deposits of volcanic ash, storing energy deep in it’s roots. But in Britain, with milder and brighter conditions the weed can grow unabated – the rate of growth for Japanese Knotweed during the summer months in Britain can be up to 20 centimeters every day. The weed can even grow through concrete and tarmac with roots as long as 3 meters deep. It’s the roots that are the biggest risk to property, causing serious damage to the foundations.
How to identify Japanese Knotweed…
The key things to look for when identifying Japanese Knotweed are:
• fleshy red tinged shoots when it first breaks through the ground
• large, heart or spade-shaped green leaves
• leaves arranged in a zig-zag pattern along the stem
• a hollow stem, like bamboo
• dense clumps that can be several metres deep
• clusters of cream flowers towards the end of July that attract bees
• dies back between September and November, leaving brown stems
The image below shows what to look for.
Treating or removing Japanese Knotweed
A recent study on the control of Japanese Knotweed, conducted in Wales, found that eradicating the plant is impossible in the short term. And that claims made by companies, stating that they could eradicate Japanese Knotweed using herbicides in short spaces of time have now been proven to be false, based on their experiments. Read more on the BBC news website.
Selling a property with Japanese Knotweed
If you need to sell to a cash buyer, there are a number of options open to you. Asking an estate agent to market your property to cash buyers only will usually result in them contacting their “usual” contact base of property investors who are looking for a below market value deal. Prices offered might be as much as 30% below market value (using the price if the property did not have Japanese Knotweed). Marketing the property to other cash buyers who are prepared to pay a bit more will take some time and subject to a high degree of uncertainty, the prospective buyer could back out at any point.
You could also contact cash buyer companies, although none (to our knowledge) have any focus on purchasing properties with Japanese Knotweed, the true cash buyers will buy anything, for a price! In our experience, there isn’t a single cash buyer company who will offer more than an auction reserve price, even if their initial offer seems quite appealing, the exchange price will almost certainly be less than a reputable auctioneer’s suggested reserve price.
Auctioning a property with Japanese Knotweed
Our advice when selling a property with Japanese Knotweed at auction is to disclose as much information as you possibly can. There will be prospective buyers who are prepared to take on any project and as long as they can be confident of the level of work required to the property.
The important thing to remember when selling a property with Japanese Knotweed at auction is that even if the property is currently only suitable for cash buyers, it won’t be all that long until the buyer can obtain a mortgage. So unlike a property next to a cliff edge, that will never be suitable for a mortgage, prospective buyers will see the eventual opportunity of obtaining finance in the future. When selling a property with Japanese Knotweed at auction you will need to set a lower reserve price, perhaps 25%+ below market value rather than the usual 15%+ you would usually set for an auction sale, but as with all auction sales, the there is no upper limit to the sale price.
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⚠ Invasive plants
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