Need to sell your house quickly? Using a ‘we buy any house’ company could mean you lose up to 50% of the value of you home, so be sure to do your research properly and look out for these common ‘we buy any house‘ scams…

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Trying to sell a property quickly in the current economic climate is difficult; estate agents are struggling to find buyers for properties that are proceedable and mortgageable, with many employees furloughed and unsure of their employment future.

Mortgage companies are being extra cautious with lending, banks and building societies are asking for large deposits, and many estate agents are not operating to a full capacity to get property sales pushed through.

Inevitably many homeowners who need to sell their home are turning to we buy any house companies to get a cash sale and complete quickly.Although the industry does have its good points (you get a guaranteed buyer and your sale will complete quickly), it is also rife with scams and companies looking to take advantage of sellers in desperate situations.

‘Many quick-sale firms will agree a high price before dropping it by thousands of pounds right at the last minute’

If you are in the position where you need to sell your home quickly, here are the top tricks used by fraudsters and how to avoid them…

1 No Genuine Cash Funds Available To Purchase
Just because a website has ‘we buy any house for cash’ plastered all over it, does not guarantee that the company in question is in fact a cash buyer. As the cash buying industry is unregulated, companies are using the term ‘we buy any house’ without actually having the cash funds to purchase. Instead they simply list your home on Rightmove or Zoopla like a regular estate agent, which obviously will not guarantee a cash sale. The only way to prove a cash buying firm is genuine is to ask them for proof of funds, ideally in the form of a solicitor’s letter that states they have cash readily available for the purchase of your home.

2 False & Inaccurate Valuations
The only valuation that should count when determining your property’s value is a genuine Royal Institute of Surveyors (RICS) valuation. Some cash-buying firms will try to use their own valuers to purposely lower the valuation of your home so their cash offer can be even lower. Make sure a cash-buying firm sends out a genuine RICS surveyor or, as a minimum, three independent estate agents.

3 Property Options & Creative Sales
Some companies who claim to be cash buyers are not offering a cash service at all, or even offering an estate agent sale. In fact, they are looking to do whatever they can to make money from your situation. They will add restrictions to your property so you cannot sell anywhere else and may mention ‘options’. These are complicated methods of selling that generally do not work out, so beware anyone that wants to do a lease option on your property – it’s highly unlikely to be of any use to you.

4 Lead Generation Companies
Lead-generation companies are websites that are set up purely to collect your details and sell them on. Sometimes these lead-generation companies will sell your details to multiple companies meaning you get multiple companies contacting you. Make sure to check if the website you are using is a lead-generation site. If it is, make sure they are GDPR compliant, have a valid data protection licence and, ideally, will only pass you over to one company who can help you.

5 Hidden Fees
Some ‘fast sale’ companies will charge you fees without your knowledge, and only tell you about them on the day of completion. These fees can be in the thousands, and you need to be careful with any company you decide to trade with is not doing this. Make sure to request a full breakdown of any costs in writing before signing anything.

6 Last-Minute Price Reductions
Many quick-sale firms will agree a high price with you during the initial conversation, and proceed all the way through to the day of completion before dropping the price by thousands of pounds right at the last minute. They anticipate that most homeowners will accept this new reduced figure rather than the whole process falling apart. The one way to get around this happening is to get a firm offer in writing right from the very start of the process.

7 Unregulated Schemes (Sale & Rent Back)
Sale and rent back is a service whereby you can sell your home for cash and remain in it on a tenancy agreement. Due to the number of scams operating in this industry, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stepped in and fully regulated it. This means that any company that is advertising a sale-and-rent back service without full FCA backing is breaking the law. We suggest you check with the FCA prior to signing any agreement that relates to selling your home and renting it back.

If you are in a position where you need to sell your home quickly and are considering a we-buy-any-home service, check out this highly detailed 21 point checklist from Ready Steady Sell, a new price-comparison website that allows you to compare various houses-for-cash companies with ease.

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