Certainly the adverts are very appealing; they say that a company will buy your property in just seven days and pay you fully in cash.
Some would say that it sounds too good to be true so surely it must be? Certainly not all cash buyers are what they profess to be and because the industry is not regulated there are many scammers who are best avoided. The number of cash buyers is increasing and because nearly one third of all house sales fall through, costing sellers time and money, selling to a cash buyer certainly does have its attractions.
Who should look for a we buy any house sale?
A number of house owners do have to sell their properties really quickly to release funds because of other situations. They may be facing repossession or are keen to clear their debts, other house owners have to move because of health issues or because of job relocation. In all these situations, selling speedily to a cash buyer without having to work on the property to get it ready to sell is a very attractive option. It does however, come at a cost because cash buyers offer low prices – 65- 85% of the market value is the average.
There are real concerns that many house owners are being misled and are really losing out financially. It is not unusual for the cash buyer to suddenly drop the price offered at the last moment – often too late for many sellers to step back. Recently a house seller who had been offered £120,000 for his property was offered only £80,000 at the last minute.
How should you prepare when approaching a cash buyer?
The very first step is to get an accurate valuation of your property. Get three different estate agents to give you a valuation so that you will be able to competently gauge the offer being made to you by the cash buyer.
Having decided to use a cash buyer, shop around and carefully compare what each has to offer. Cash buyers are either an individual or a company and have adequate funds to work quickly as they do not need to get a mortgage and will be able to pay you in cash in the agreed time frame. There are cash buyers who actually work just as a broker and will find a cash buyer for the property. A huge bonus is that both types of cash buyer will take the property in the condition it is in so there is no necessity to re-decorate or make any repairs to the property.
Deciding on a quick house sale company
Before you approach the cash buyer / company it is wise to check out their credentials. Although the industry is not regulated, there are ways to safeguard yourself and your property.
Many of the quick house sale scammers are advertising online and in reality have no business premises and little more than a website. It is well worth checking if the company does have an address and proper offices. The next step is to check if the company is registered and this can be done by logging onto www.companieshouse.co.uk which will quickly show how long the company has been in operation and what are its assets. If it is turns out to be a new company with a poor turnover or is unregistered, it would be wise not to approach them.
Are they members of the NAPB or TPOS?
The National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) is a group of professionals committed to providing the highest possible standards within the property buying sector. NAPB has worked closely with the Property Ombudsman (TPOS) to create a new Code of Practice that will raise standards in the industry and all of the members of NAPB have signed up to the Property Ombudsman’s Code of Practice. A full list of current NAPB members is listed on www.napb.co.uk.
If you choose a cash buyer who is a member of NAPB you can be confident that they will be adhering to the Code of Practice and will treat you fairly and honestly. If the cash buyer is working purely as a broker, the company should be a member of The Property Ombudsman (TPOS).
Other ways to safeguard yourself from scams
Whilst ensuring that your cash buyer are members of the NAPB and TPOS, as this is the most important step, there are others that will help ensure that selling your house to a cash buyer is as quick and effortless as advertised.
Is this quick house sale company too good to be true?
If you are unhappy with the cash price or conditions being offered to you, say so! All points are negotiable. The agreement must be carefully read and fully understood and at no time should you feel pressured or rushed. If there is a clause that you do not understand, then it is essential to ask for an explanation.
Check what the timescale is going to be for the company to buy your property and the steps that must be completed. Check that at the end you will be paid in cash and ask for proof of adequate funds – if the cash buyer is genuine, there will be no problem with this.
Make sure that everything that you agree is written down rather than verbally agreed as this will safeguard you if the cash buyer suddenly wants to lower the cost or change the terms. Check exactly what expenses you will be liable for such as survey and legal fees. It is advisable to get independent legal advice at every stage.
Do not be tied into a long contract with the cash buyer. Estate agents work to 8-12 week time span and certainly a cash buyer should be working to much less – unless they don’t have adequate funds to pay you or are hiding the fact that they are acting as a broker.
Do not be in a hurry to sign until the survey and all the legal work have been completed. If the cash buyer says that the offer must be reduced because of what the survey has revealed, you are quite within your right to see the survey.
Who do you contact if you’re unhappy with your cash offer?
Explain clearly to your cash buyer what aspect of the deal you are unhappy with and give them the opportunity to put things right. If this is done to your satisfaction then good, but if not then get in touch with The Property Ombudsman right away.
If the cash buyer you chose is not a NAPB member then you may well find yourself high and dry so beware.