If you need to sell your property fast, a “traditional” house sale may not be an option. It can take months or even years to sell a property on the open market via an estate agent.
Sure, COVID has resulted in a property boom with houses selling like lightning for sky-high prices, but industry experts predict a gradual slowing of the market towards the end of the year and into 2022.
So, if you need a quick house sale — we’re talking weeks, not months — should you use a “We Buy Any House Company”? They’re a scam, aren’t they? Not necessarily, no. A legitimate quick house sale company may be the perfect solution for some sellers.
What is a ‘We Buy Any House Company’?
“We Buy Any House” companies are also known as “Quick House Sale”, “Cash Buying” and “Property Buying” companies. They offer customers an immediate cash purchase of their property, often in as little as seven days.
But beware, not all “Cash Buying” companies are genuine, so it’s essential that you thoroughly research a company before committing to a sale.
Why Use a Quick House Sale Company?
A cash house buying company offers several benefits if selling your house quickly is a priority:
Speed — the main benefit of using a “We Buy Any House” company is the speed of sale. It takes on average 2.5 months for a traditional house sale to progress from offer acceptance to completion. Due to the current high demand from buyers, many people have to wait a lot longer as conveyancers and solicitors struggle to clear the backlog of transactions built up over the past year. In comparison, a genuine cash house buying company can offer completion in as little as seven days.
No Property Chain — when multiple house sales rely upon one another for a successful outcome, there is a “property chain”. Problems in the chain are one of the leading causes of delays and failed sales. It only takes one seller or buyer to encounter difficulties or withdraw from the transaction to feel the effects all along the chain. A “We Buy Any House” company has no chain, which significantly reduces the risk of problems arising that could scupper your sale. If you are selling to buy, the person selling you a house may be in a chain, but you will be a more attractive prospect to them if you have no chain and have a guaranteed quick sale in the bag.
A Guaranteed Sale — this is pretty much the only way to achieve a guaranteed house sale. Once you have accepted a firm offer from the company, they won’t have a change of heart or pull out because they couldn’t secure a mortgage. This gives sellers peace of mind and a lot less stress than they would have if they had to face the uncertainty of an on-market sale.
No Estate Agent Fees — estate agent fees can run into thousands of pounds which eat into the “profit” from selling a house. Most agencies charge a percentage of the sale price, so the more valuable your house is, the more an agent will charge in commission. The fees for selling a house at the current UK average price of £266,000 would be almost £4,000, based on the average estate agent fee rate of 1.42%. However, some agencies charge as much as 3.5%, which would be a whopping £9,310 on the same property. If you sell to a cash house buying company, there is no need for an estate agent so you avoid this cost altogether.
No Legal Fees — the best “We Buy Any House” companies will cover the cost of your conveyancing fees if you use one of their partner solicitors or conveyancers. If you choose to find your own legal representative, some will subsidise the cost — another significant saving on the cost of selling your house.
No Viewings — having strangers wander through your much-loved home making comments and judgments can be highly emotional and stressful for many people. You can skip the inconvenience and stress of viewings by opting for a quick cash sale.
Hassle-Free — selling directly to a professional, experienced house buying company means that everything will be taken care of for you. There’s no need for estate agents to visit your home. You can avoid viewings, your property does not need to be photographed and marketed, and you won’t have to endure endless queries from interested buyers or the delays these cause. Choosing this route makes house selling about as stress-free as it can be.
How to Choose a Company You Can Trust
Many homeowners are unaware of quick house sale companies or have a strong sense of mistrust in them. Unfortunately, because the industry is currently unregulated, there is a small number of unscrupulous businesses in operation. However, there is no reason to discount every “We Buy Any House” company. You need to do a little research and be very careful what you sign.
Look out for the following red flags and avoid any companies that engage in such practices:
- Confusing fee structures — ask for a written breakdown of your cash offer and any fees associated with the sale. Some companies will sneak in unexpected fees after you have accepted the initial offer.
- Unwillingness to commit to the agreed offer — beware of companies that offer no price guarantee or reassurance that they won’t suddenly drop their offer at the last minute (when you’re committed to the sale and withdrawing would be problematic).
- A lack of funds — you are perfectly within your rights to ask a company to provide proof that they have the cash to buy your house fast. Some companies market themselves as cash buyers, but they need to secure financing to buy your home, or they plan to sell your details to a third-party buyer, both of which can slow the house sale process down.
- Restrictive agreements and contracts — if you are asked to sign a contract that gives the company exclusive rights to buy your home for a fixed period, beware. There may be eye-watering penalties for taking your business elsewhere if you change your mind.
Signs of a trustworthy quick house sale company include:
- Strong credentials — for example, they are members of the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) and The Property Ombudsman (TPO). Look for logos on the company website and abide by the 21 Point Checklist, set out by Ready Steady Sell.
- Experience — check the “About Us” section of the company website to find out how long the company has been in business. Anyone can put up a website overnight. A company with years of experience will know the quick house sale industry inside out and have the knowledge and connections to complete your sale without issue. This is also a good indicator of the company’s success and popularity with customers. A company that fails to deliver on its promises is unlikely to survive for long.
- Customer testimonials — check out independent review sites like Trustpilot and Feefo. What are people saying about their experience of the company? Is there a good number of reviews, and are they overwhelmingly positive? Does the company respond fairly to any negative feedback?
- Proof of funds — a genuine cash house buying company will not bat an eyelid at a request for proof of funds. They will quickly and easily be able to reassure you that they can afford to buy your home without seeking additional finance or passing your business on to a third party.
If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Most “We Buy Any House” companies make their money from purchasing properties at a slight discount (less than their market value) and selling them for a higher price. If a company makes you a fantastic cash offer and promises a quick sale, there’s probably a catch. For example, they may chip away at their offer with hidden costs or drop the price last minute.
If you shop around and do your research to find a genuine cash house buying company, selling this way can be completely safe and stress-free. It won’t be the right choice for everyone, but if you need to sell your house fast and are willing to accept a cash offer that is slightly below market value, a “We Buy Any House” company could offer just the solution you’re looking for.