Quick house sales: Everything you should know

Need to sell your house fast? Consider using a "quick sale" company.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

This works by the company offering to buy your house very quickly, at a discounted price.

It does this by buying your house directly, or finding a third party buyer very quickly, who will pay for the home with cash.

But if this is something you’re considering, be aware, as it’s not unheard of for homeowners to be misled and lose out financially.

Instead, read on to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing.

Pros

Quick house sale companies can be useful 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 title searches) for you.

Some other benefits are that you will:

  • Avoid repossession, be able to clear your debts or sort out any financial issues.
  • Dispose of inherited property.
  • Be able to move for age or health-related reasons.
  • Be able to sell as a result of divorce or a relationship breakdown.
  • Be able to relocate due to a change of job or to emigrate.

Cons

But it’s also important to be aware of the downsides too.

  • 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?

While there are benefits to this scheme, the quick house sale market isn’t regulated, which means consumers aren’t protected when selling a property to one of these companies.

But, 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 if things do go wrong.

The NAPB is a not for profit organisation that, alongside The Property Ombudsman, promotes high standards in the quick property sale sector.

Above other rules, all members must follow a strict Code of Conduct and treat sellers fairly.

Are there any alternatives?

Before deciding to go ahead with a quick house sale, make sure you’ve considered your other options.

Use a traditional estate agent

Ask a few 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 anyway.

Negotiate with your mortgage company

If the reason you’re selling is that 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 by law.

One of the things it might suggest out of this is extending the term of your mortgage to reduce your monthly repayments.

Questions to ask a quick house buying company

Before committing to anything, you should check the company’s credentials.

If the provider is a broker, ensure it’s registered with The Property Ombudsman. If the provider says it has signed up to a code of practice, or it’s regulated by an official body, check for yourself.

Then, at each stage of the process, make sure you have all the information you need and that you understand everything.

Below are some questions to ask the quick sale company:

  • Who is valuing my property and how?
  • Is the company buying my property itself or is someone else buying it?
  • What is the timescale for the sale?
  • What are the different stages and when will each happen?
  • What might cause timescales to slip?
  • If the company is buying your property, how will it 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?
  • What fees and charges will you have to pay?
  • 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?

How can I report a problem with a quick house buying company?

If you’re not satisfied with the service provided, tell the company and give it a chance to investigate and resolve your complaint.

If you’re not happy with the way your complaint is dealt with, and the company is a member of the NAPB or registered with The Property Ombudsman, you can refer the matter to TPO.

However, if it isn’t then unfortunately you can’t take your complaint any further other than in a civil court.

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