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Woolwich &#39gazumps&#39 buyers in favour of ex-customer

The Woolwich has given a long-term borrower whose home was repossessed the chance to buy back his home – despite the grievances of new buyers.

A young couple were about to exchange contracts and complete on the sale of the house, which had previously been repossessed by The Woolwich. Lenders are obliged to put such properties on the open market to try and get the best price for them.

But The Woolwich extended the deadline by two weeks at the last minute to give the previous owner a chance to buy back his property. The couple – living in bed and breakfast accommodation – then accusing the lender of gazumping them.

But spokeswoman Emma Keens says: “This is what we deemed the right and moral way of dealing with the situation. This was a long-term borrower of ours and we felt we had to do all we could to help him. But it is obviously a fine line and a matter of perception because the potential purchasers were really quite annoyed about it.”

The Woolwich says this is not necessarily policy across the board and that it would treat each case individually. Keens says: “Every case is different. There is no strict definition of what is right and wrong – it is what you divine is right when these situations crop up. We were sympathetic and kind in this case.”

The Woolwich says that the previous owner will have to pay off the mortgage in its entirety if he wants to move back in. And Keens adds: “We would not give them any additional finance at that point – they have to seek finance elsewhere.”

If the previous owner is unable to buy the house outright, the lender says it will refund the new prospective buyers all the legal and surveying costs they have incurred.

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