Sell house fast? – DO NOT sell your home fast for cash in 2022 to a Quick Sale Company UNTIL you’ve read this guide – It could save you £000’s!
We take a detailed look at the sell house fast industry, how a quick house sale works, the companies involved, the promises they make, the pros/cons of selling your house fast and the alternatives, how to complain, and much more. Companies that buy your home fast are referred to in several ways: quick house sale/ quick sale companies, property buyers/ buying companies, cash house buyers, or cash buyers. We may refer to all of these different descriptions in this guide.
In years gone by, property buying companies were free to operate at will, often giving sellers needing a fast sale a poor deal. The Office of Fair Trading published a report in 2013 leading to a degree of self-regulation (see the section on safeguards and regulation below).
How cash house buyers operate
Selling your house fast to a quick sale firm means accepting 70% to 85% of the value of your home. Quick sale firms profit by buying your house at a discount and selling it for more on the open market.
Selling your house fast to a property buying company involves an eight-stage process:
- Advertising claims to hook you in – ‘We buy any house’ and ‘sell my house fast’ are marketing terms to get you interested.
- Making contact – A quick sale firm needs your basic contact information and property details to make you an offer.
- Managing expectations – The quick sale firm needs to promote the value of its service as the price they offer may come as a shock.
- The desktop valuation – A rough assessment of your home’s value by reference to the price of similar houses to yours for sale or sold.
- The provisional offer – It may be lower than you expected. The critical point to remember is, is the valuation reasonable?
- Formal valuation – Once a sale is agreed on, a detailed survey checks the property condition and potential open market value.
- Solicitors instructed – The legal process commences according to the homeowners selling timescale.
- Completion and moving date – You receive the price agreed and move out.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Selling fast to a property buying company costs 15-25%. If your home is worth £160,000, that's as much as £40,000!
For a more detailed look at how the process works to sell your house fast, check out the other articles in our blog section.
Are all cash house buyers the same?
Would it surprise you to learn that only a tiny proportion of purported cash house buyers in the UK buy your house? That’s because it requires a substantial investment to purchase many homes every week or month. Most cash buyer adverts you see on the internet or Facebook are third party Agents selling the customer’s details to a cash house buyer. Other apparent property buyers are agents or estate agents offering to sell your house, not buy it.
The table below helps to explain what’s going on!
The different types of 'Cash House Buyers'
|Advertising promises they're a cash house buyer||Actual service offered||Pros||Cons||Cost as % of your house value||Buying timescales||Regulation/ safeguards|
|Type 1 - Cash House Buyer||Buys your home directy||Quick sale||High cost||15-25%||Few weeks||Possibly TPOS & NAPB|
|Type 2 - Agent/ Cash House Buyer||Introduces you to a company that buys your home directly||Quick sale||High cost||15-25%||Few weeks||Possibly TPOS & NAPB|
|Type 3 - Agent||Sells your home (doesn't buy it)||Possible quick sale||Possible high cost||1-5%||Few weeks/ months||Possibly none|
|Type 4 -Agent||Takes an option to buy your home and sells it to a cash house buyer||Possible quick sale||High cost||5-25%||Few weeks/ months/ 6 months||Possibly none|
|Type 5 - Estate Agent||Introduces you to an estate agent who finds a buyer who can buy your home quickly||Quicker than traditional estate agent||Possible slow sale||1-5%||Few weeks/ months/ 6 months||TPOS|
The leading property buying companies in the UK today
The table below is a snapshot of the top operators that purchase houses directly from house sellers. We have a lot more information on these companies, which we will publish shortly, so check back frequently.
|Quick Sale Company||Trading as||Year established||Est. properties 2020||Turnover to 30/11/2020||Min (days to purchase)||% of market value paid|
|HBB Relocation Services Ltd||House Buyer Bureau||2011||207||105,437,635||7||Not stated|
|Kazai Capital Ltd/ Asus Investments Ltd||We Buy Any Home||2013||243||36,949,979||7||Not stated|
|Fast Sale Today Limited/ Quanta Group Ltd||Fast Sale Today||2006||Unknown||17,016,571||7||Not stated|
|Quick Move Now Ltd||Quick Move Now||1998||Unknown||16,949,198||Not stated|
|Quanta Loans Limited||Sell House Fast||2015||Unknown||12,693,201||7||Not stated|
|Property Rescue Ltd/ General Pacific Properties Ltd||Property Rescue||2005||141||0||2||Not stated|
|Momentum Asset Management Ltd||National Homebuyers||2004||79||0||7||Not stated|
|ARN Captial Ltd||Good Move||2015||77||0||Few days||85%|
|Open Property Finance Limited||Open Property Group||2014||58||0||Few days||Not stated|
|The Property Buying Company Ltd||The Property Buying Company||2012||19||0||7||80%|
|Future Planned Relocation Services Ltd||House Buy Fast/ Ready Steady Sell||2008||13||0||3||85%|
Notes to the table.
- 1st column – ‘Quick sale company’ is the legal entity behind the website, so check who is buying your home.
- 2nd column – ‘Trading as’ is the brand you see on the internet, newspapers or television.
- 3rd column – ‘Date established’ is generally when the legal entity is incorporated. This data may not be accurate.
- 4th column – ‘Est. properties 2020’ is the number of properties purchased in 2020 (estimated from financial data*)
- 5th column – ‘Turnover to 30/11/20’ (Quanta 2019) is financial turnover from financial statements filed at Companies House.
- 6th column – ‘Min (days to purchase)’ is the time in which a quick sale firm states it can purchase your house.
- 7th column – ‘% of the market value paid’ is the percentage they’ll pay in return for a fast sale.
*The number of properties purchased may not be accurate. We have gathered publicly available data from the individual firms’ filings at Companies House. We invite corrections from the quick sale firms listed above.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Spend time researching the property buyers listed here. Check them out thoroughly before committing to selling your biggest asset.
The promises made by sell house fast companies
Anyone can promise the earth to get you to buy their product or service. Are they real or just a sales gimmick?
#1. Cash offer in 24 hrs, sell in a few days – Selling fast in a few days may sound attractive, but is it practical or realistic? Only you can decide, but there may be other selling fast options if a few days turns into a few weeks.
#2. No stress, no hassle – No viewings or protracted negotiations may seem attractive, but is it worth losing 20% of the value of your home?
#3. We buy any condition – Sounds good but at what cost? Expect less if your home is challenging to sell in the open market.
#4. We buy anywhere – As in #3, expect even less for your house if it’s in a poor location.
#5. Sell for cash – Quick sale firms have money in the bank and don’t need to apply for a mortgage. They can’t pay you with bags of money.
#6. Cash buyers – A cash buyer refers to a buyer or quick sale firm that can buy your house without applying for a mortgage.
#7 We pay 95/100% market value – This claim is entirely implausible. The most you’ll get is 80/85%.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Don't rely on the sales pitch. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is!
Pros and cons of quick sale firms
Every industry has good and bad operators, and the property industry is no different. Unfortunately, it’s the poor companies that get the most publicity. However, follow your instinct, do your due diligence, and thoroughly research property buying companies before agreeing to sell your home at a discount.
- Sell your house fast in a few days/weeks compared to months through estate agents.
- Quick sale firms buy anywhere in the UK, even unpopular locations.
- Hassle-free service. No unnecessary delays, valuations, viewings, etc.
- Discreet and confidential – no for-sale boards or internet listings. Keep your business private.
- Guaranteed sale – Once a quick sale firm agrees to purchase your home, they don’t usually back out.
- Agreed timescale to sell – Sell in a few weeks; some firms may purchase in days.
- Accept less for your house, as much as 20/25%. Only you can decide if it’s worth it.
- False promises – You still need to do your homework and diligence to get the best deal and sort the wheat from the chaff.
- Some firms act for investors. Some are only brokers, and some tie you into unsavoury deals.
- Last-minute price drop scams – You could be seriously out of pocket, unable to change your mind.
- Hidden charges or fees – Extra hidden costs may arise.
- Unrealistic offers – Again, if you get an offer higher than 85% of the value of your home, there may be something suspect.
Follow the link for a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of using a quick sale service.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Do your homework first, then balance selling fast against accepting less money for your home.
Customer reviews – real or fake?
Have you noticed how many good reviews quick sale firms get? Yes, there are some bad ones, but the good ones outnumber the bad, which is surprising considering the distressed nature of the occasion and the fact that the house seller is getting only 80% of the market value.
The review providers (such as Trustpilot and Reviews) do police reviews left on their platforms, but fake ones done well can be hard to spot. However, the UK Government plans to crack down on fake reviews.
For most of us, it’s become second nature to check out a company’s reviews before buying. Reviews matter, and that’s why some businesses pay people to write and post fake positive reviews for them.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Don't rely solely on good reviews, find some bad reviews and look at how the companies responded to them.
The essential advantage offered by a quick sale service is the speed of a sale. However, it isn’t always clear cut and merits exploration.
Other ways to sell your house quickly can involve using an estate agent or an auction. However, a whole range of factors affects these alternative methods of selling a property, such as the general state of the property market and how long each essential stage takes, whether auction or estate agent.
Essential stages in selling a property
- Preparation – Getting your home ready to sell.
- Marketing – Exposure to potential buyers via portals, Zoola, Rightmove, OnTheMarket, etc.
- Viewings & feedback – Garner’s interest.
- Offer & acceptance – Consider offers and choose a buyer.
- The legal process – Instruct conveyancing to finalise the sale.
The table below summarises the approximate timeframe for each essential stage in selling your home. Each step can have different timescales depending on which method you use to sell your house (estate agent, auction or to a quick sale firm).
Timescales for selling your home
|Type of sale||Average time to accept an offer||Average time from accepting an offer to exchanging contracts||Average time from exchanging contracts to completion||Total time to sell a house in the UK|
|Estate Agent||7-14 weeks||9 weeks||2 weeks||18-25 week|
|Auction House||N/A||N/A||N/A||6-8 weeks|
|Quick Sale firm||1 day to 1 week||2-3 weeks||N/A||3-4 weeks|
Data sources include ‘The Advisory’ & ‘View My Chain’.
Factors affecting selling timescales include:
- The general state of the property market, i.e., is it buoyant (more buyers) or flat (fewer buyers)?
- Broken chains.
- Poor valuations/ unseen repairs needed.
- Buyer changed their mind.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Selling a property can be fraught with problems and delays, even when selling to a cash buying company.
Why you may need to sell your house fast
Sudden life changes or bad luck might mean homeowners need to sell their homes quickly. Of course, it’s better to sell over an extended period, say six months, to maximise the sale price.
Here are ten reasons that motivate house sellers to use the services of property buying companies.
- House repossession – get your equity out, don’t leave it to the banks.
- Divorce or separation – divide the proceeds and move on with your life.
- Job relocation / emigrating – moving on and need to move out quickly.
- Bad tenants or reluctant Landlords – had enough of the rental hassle.
- Retirement, trading down – kids flew the nest, time to seek something smaller.
- Inherited property – emotionally tricky and need a speedy sale.
- Downsizing – release some equity and spend less time at home.
- Fixer-uppers – house in disrepair and can’t spend time/money to fix it up.
- Job loss – can’t afford the mortgage and maybe need to go into a rental.
- Nuisance neighbours – don’t live with the problem. Get out and move on.
KEY TAKEAWAY - There are many reasons for selling quickly, make sure yours is substantial enough to accept the cost.
Click on this link for a more detailed guide on the motivation for selling your home quickly.
Buying locations – Where do property buying companies purchase homes?
Many big fast house sale firms claim to buy any property anywhere in the UK. But the truth is, most only focus on property buying locations in England and Wales, although a few firms specialise solely in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
So why is Scotland and Northern Ireland so unpopular? Why do so many quick sale firms not include them on their websites under the section “Where we buy”? Well, it’s simple. Scotland has different laws from England regarding the sale and purchase of a property. But both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.
In Scotland, solicitors have greater control of the housing market, and it is not unusual for solicitors in Scotland to also act as the Estate Agent and sell the property.
In England, house buyers and sellers negotiate, agree and exchange contracts. In contrast, Scottish property buyers and sellers exchange documents about the transaction. These are known as missives.
Many national fast sale firms buy near their physical location due to local knowledge and cost-effectiveness of servicing and quick house sale hotspots. Our analysis of over 16,000 customers confirms the hotspots in northern towns with declining primary industries (coal, steel, shipbuilding, fishing & textiles, etc.). Click on the map for further analysis.
There are rich pickings to be had in the UK’s top quick house sale hotspots, which we have correlated with some of Rightmove’s analysis on the top fastest moving areas at this link. The data identifies locations where the market may suit a quick sale firm.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Some areas have a higher demand than others and cheaper properties are more desirable, therefore expect more money when selling quickly. Some remote or less popular locations may not interest a quick sale firm, despite the promise to buy 'anywhere.'
What can go wrong when selling to a property buying company?
Many things can go wrong in the normal process of selling a property, so it’s probably no surprise that more can go wrong when you’re selling within a brief timeframe. You don’t have the time to reflect on a decision on the most significant financial asset you’re likely to have.
First off, many dishonest firms intend to cheat owners out of more money than they realise. Therefore the most important thing is to ensure you’re dealing with a trustworthy and reputable buyer, as in our table of fast sale companies above.
Here’s what to look out for:
- The value of your home is much less than it’s worth.
- The survey is poor, exaggerating minor problems.
- The price agreed is dropped at the very last minute.
- The sale takes much longer than promised.
- You can’t change your mind and back out.
- Contract tie-ins or option agreements.
- Upfront payments are requested.
- Before the quick sale firm can act, the lender repossesses your property.
- Last-minute problems with the property’s legal title or a charge stop the sale.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Scams and pitfalls exist, don't be too trusting, listen to good advice, do your due diligence. Check reviews and research the companies.
No statutory regulation governs the quick house sales industry. Also, there are few safeguards. The Office of Fair Trading published a report in August 2013 (click here) critical of quick sale firms operating at that time. Over eight years later, there is only a degree of regulation if the quick sale firm is a member of the Property Ombudsman and self-regulation if a member of the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB). Quick sale firms belonging to a professional body such as RICS are subject to their rules. It seems that only Good Move, one of the quick sale companies in this guide, are members of this organisation.
The Courts deal with disagreements under the civil law. Any dispute may mean going to Court with all the expense it entails. The Police may take a different view if someone is conned into parting with their home at much less than they realised.
KEY TAKEAWAY - Check out the quick sale companies, see who they are registered with (TPO, NAPB, RICS, etc). Follow the links in this guide and deal with a reputable firm.
Making a complaint about a property buying company
Suppose a homeowner feels they have been misled or mistreated during the process of selling their property to a quick sale firm. In that case, they should, in the first place, make a formal complaint in writing to the company’s registered office address by recorded post keeping a copy.
Document your complaint within a timeline of events giving times and dates when they happened. Include any email traffic that supports your case.
Finally, make sure you ask the recipient of your complaint to acknowledge your letter and ask when they will respond.
If the quick sale firm does not respond satisfactorily to your complaint, then you may wish to contact one or all of the various trade bodies set up to help protect homeowners and consumer rights. Ultimately
- Citizens Advice – Useful for general advice, can give basic information about the law and assist in writing letters and contacting a quick sale firm.
- Trading Standards – Deals with illegal sales activity. Citizens Advice works closely with them.
- The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) – Letting and Estate Agents need to be members to operate. Many quick sale firms are members, so expulsion for wrongdoing is a deterrent. TPOS has a code of conduct for quick sale firms; access a copy here.
- The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a professional body that regulates its members to uphold standards in dealing with customers.
- National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) is a self-regulatory trade association for fast sale firms who insist that their members belong to The Property Ombudsman Redress Scheme.
KEY TAKEAWAY - There is little regulation and the paperwork you'll be required to sign invariably invalidates any claims you may have. Therefore it's best to thoroughly check out the property buying firms in the first place.
Alternatives to selling your house fast
Most would agree that a specialist cash house buyer is the quickest way to sell a house fast. But it may not be an option for everyone, and it may be time to consider alternative routes to get moving.
Sell at Auction:
Selling a property at auction is an excellent way to sell it in approximately 40 days. If your property is priced low enough, you should have no problem selling it at auction, probably to an investor buyer. When an investor bids on your home at auction, they are then legally bound to buy it for the agreed price. Typically, they will then have 40 days to get the property exchange legally completed.
Estate Agent with investors:
Some estate agents have registered buyers specifically seeking property in certain areas of a certain standard. If your property meets the criteria set out by an investor and you are willing to discount to achieve a fast sale, you will more than likely find your buyer.
Sell as a building plot:
Your home may have several issues, such as structural defects or it’s run down. It may be worth considering selling it as a building plot for the land. Generally, you will not get as much as you would with bricks and mortar structures. However, if your house is not selling, it may be your best option to get a fast sale.
A lease option is usually best suited to those house sellers with little or no equity. An investor can take control of the mortgage payments for a set time and take complete control of the property. The homeowner still owns the property. However, the investor can do whatever they want with it, for example, rent it out. A lease option is very flexible, and a homeowner can agree on terms with the buyer.
An assisted sale generally takes place when a property is over £500,000. Many investors won’t buy property above this figure because it ties up too much capital. It’s a good route if you are struggling to sell traditionally and need a cash injection, for example, to clear some debts. It works like this, and an investor will pay you an upfront cash amount and charge your property. They will then agree on a final price you want to achieve and sell the property for a higher price in a longer timeframe, keeping the difference in price as their profit.
If you want to sell your property quickly by any means (estate agent, property buyers or auction), this is the information required to make the sale go smoothly.
Usually, a property buying company buys ‘as is’, so points 7-12 below are relatively unimportant.
- Title Deeds – Locate the title deeds (proof of legal ownership).
- Proof of identification – Provide legal identity documents such as a driver’s licence or passport & a recent utility.
- Contact information – Account numbers and details for any mortgages, loans or other debts secured against the property.
- Property information – Is the property freehold or leasehold? Details of management & maintenance agreements/service charges.
- Inherited property? – Need details of probate – ongoing or granted.
- Home improvements – Details of any structural work, modifications and DIY.
- Damp/condensation – Ventilate the house and get rid of damp, mildew or mould in walls, ceilings and floors.
- Neutralise colours & freshen up – A fresh lick of paint, white or neutral shades works wonders, smooth walls fill holes and cracks.
- Repair built-in-furniture – Do the essentials, fit new drawer runners or broken cupboards or drawers.
- Deep clean – Don’t let potential buyers see dirt during viewings; it’s a significant negative.
- Fix plumbing problems – Ensure there are no leaking issues that may delay the sale of the property.
- Remove bathroom limescale – Make the room look cleaner and more attractive. Tip: Use a solution of white vinegar and water.
- Showcase the kitchen – the kitchen is the most important room. Treat it as such.
Thank you for reading our guide on selling your house fast. We hope you have found it helpful!
Please note nothing in this article or website constitutes advice, and you should take your own independent financial or legal advice when selling your home.