Need to sell your house fast? You might be tempted to use a ‘quick sale’ company. They offer to buy your house very quickly at a discounted price. However, there are concerns homeowners could be misled and lose out financially. Read on to make sure you know what you’re doing.
- What are quick house sale companies?
- Pros and cons of using a quick house sale company
- What protection do homeowners get when selling to a quick house sale company?
- Is using a quick house sale company right for you?
- Alternatives to a quick house sale
- Look at other ways of funding your long-term care
- Checklist for going ahead with a quick house sale
- Questions to ask a quick buying company
- Got a problem with your quick house sale company?
What are quick house sale companies?
Quick house sale companies offer to sell your home fast.
They do this by buying your house directly, or finding a third party buyer very quickly.
They pay cash for your property and usually buy at a discounted rate.
Pros and cons of using a quick house sale company
Quick house sale companies can provide a useful service for homeowners who need to unlock cash in a hurry. Some companies are able to buy your house within days and pay all fees (such as for solicitors and searches) for you.
For example to:
- Avoid repossession, clear debts or sort out financial issues
- Dispose of inherited property
- Move for age or health related reasons
- Sell as a result of divorce or relationship breakdown
- Relocate due to a change of job or to emigrate
- Try a different route if unable to sell through a traditional estate agent – get around issues making a property hard to sell, for example with a short lease or if a property has a high risk of flooding
Beware of unscrupulous quick house sales companies. One homeowner agreed a price of £120,000, only to be told the offer had dropped to £80,000 just before the deal was signed.
- Some companies agree to buy a house, but then reduce the price at the very last minute
- Fee structures are not always made clear to the customer
- Some companies make false property valuations
- Some contracts tie customers in, preventing them from selling to anyone else who might come along with a better offer
What protection do homeowners get when selling to a quick house sale company?
The quick house sale market isn’t regulated so consumers aren’t protected when selling a property to one of these companies.
However, the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) ensures all members must register with The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) and adhere to its Code of Practice. By using a member of the NAPB or a company registered with TPOS, homeowners can access its independent redress in the event of a dispute.
The NAPB is a not for profit organisation that alongside The Property Ombudsman promotes high standards in the quick property sale sector. All members must follow a strict Code of Conduct to treat sellers fairly.
To see current members of the NAPB visit www.napb.co.uk.
Is using a quick house sale company right for you?
To answer this question, you need to think about why you’re selling and what your priorities are.
Before deciding to go ahead, make sure you’ve considered all the alternatives (see below).
Alternatives to a quick house sale
Use a traditional estate agent
Before deciding whether to go ahead with a quick sale company, ask some local estate agents what price would get you a quick sale.
You might find the amount you need to drop the price by is less than the typical 25% discount a quick sale company would ask for.
Negotiate with your mortgage company
If the reason you’re selling is you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, contact your lender to discuss your options.
Mortgage companies have to consider a request to change the way you pay your mortgage.
One of the things they might suggest is extending the term of your mortgage (the amount of time left to run on the mortgage) to reduce your monthly repayments.
Look at other ways of funding your long-term care
If the reason you’re selling your home is to pay for your long-term care, make sure you’ve looked into all the alternatives and have spoken to an independent financial adviser who specialises in funding long-term care.
- Self-funding your long-term care – your options.
- Get financial advice on how to fund your long-term care.
Checklist for going ahead with a quick house sale
If you decide you want to sell your property through a quick house sale company make sure you:
- Do your own valuation: make sure you get a valuation from three different estate agents so you can decide whether any offer made by a quick sale company is fair.
- Shop around: not all quick sale companies are the same. Make sure you look at what different ones can offer.
- Consider using a quick sale company which is a member of the National Association of Property Buyers.
- Check the company’s credentials: If the provider is a broker (someone who introduces you to a prospective buyer), check they’re registered with The Property Ombudsman. If the provider says they have signed up to a code of practice, or they are regulated by an official body, check for yourself.
- Don’t be shy: it’s always worth negotiating the terms and/or the price.
- Get everything in writing: don’t accept verbal assurances.
- Take your time: don’t rush or be pressured into a decision.
- Get your own independent legal adviser: the company you’re using can’t force you to use the legal representative they recommend. See below for where to find a solicitor.
- Read the agreement carefully: don’t sign an agreement unless you fully understand what you’re agreeing to. Get your legal adviser to explain anything you’re not clear about.
- Avoid long tie-ins: don’t sign any agreement tieing you to the quick sale company for a long time. A typical estate agency contract lasts 8-12 weeks. A quick sale contract should be shorter and there are companies which don’t insist on any kind of contract before sale.
- Be honest: giving incorrect information or leaving important things out might cause hold-ups further down the line and even mean a reduction in the price you’re offered.
- Ask to see the survey: if the company you’re using reduces the offer price, ask why. If the survey’s findings are to blame, ask to see them. A fair-dealing business will not hide them from you.
- Don’t commit too early in the process: don’t sign on the dotted line until all the surveys and legal checks are done and you have a final offer in writing.
Finding a solicitor
- England and Wales – find a solicitor on the Law Society website
- Scotland – find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website
- Northern Ireland – find a solicitor on the Law Society of Northern Ireland website
Questions to ask a quick buying company
At each stage of the process, make sure you have all the information you need and you understand everything.
Here are some questions to ask the quick sale company:
- Who is valuing the property and how?
- Is the company buying your property themselves or is someone else buying it?
- What are the timescales for the sale? What are the different stages and when will each happen? What might cause timescales to slip?
- If they are buying it, how will they pay for it? If the company says it has funds available immediately, ask for proof. A genuine cash buyer will be able to provide it.
- If someone else is the buyer, who are they and what guarantees can they give in terms of how quickly the sale can happen and whether the buyer has funds available?
- What fees and charges will you have to pay (for example surveys and lawyers’ fees)? What are the fees and charges if you don’t complete the sale?
- What might cause the offer price to change and when would this happen? Is the offer conditional, for example is it ‘subject to survey and contract’ or anything else?
- Are they a member of the National Association of Property Buyers or registered with The Property Ombudsman?
Got a problem with your quick house sale company?
If you’re not satisfied with the service provided by a quick house sale company, tell them and give them a chance to investigate and resolve your complaint.
If you’re not happy with the way your complaint is dealt with, and they are a member of the NAPB or registered with The Property Ombudsman (TPO), you can refer the matter to TPO. However, if they aren’t then unfortunately you can’t take your complaint any further other than in a civil court.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.