15 October, 2021
10 tips to keep you safe, tips to avoid fraud and getting ripped off in 2022.
Selling a house can take a long time and not everyone, unfortunately, has the time to wait (sometimes months) for a property purchase to sell and complete. The allure of a quick house sale brings many to the unregulated sector of quick house sales. A lot of ads for ‘we buy any home’ promoting success and happy faces.
We say unregulated as unfortunately the sector is and anyone claiming to be regulated is incorrect and should be a warning signal to you. The National Association of Home Buyers (NAPB) is the closest to the regulation of the sector and we will cover that below in more detail.
We’re going to cover on this page everything you’ll need to know to stay safe and avoid getting scammed by ‘we buy any houses’ companies.
Quick sales are not new in fact if we start to talk about a cash buyer generally the opportunity to buy a house for a low value and sell it for high has been around for some time, with the internet it is a lot easier to find people compared to knocking on a door. Most quick house sale companies will only offer 80-85% of the property (market) value and some will be below that with the appeal being the speed at which they are able to purchase a property.
There are enough legit ‘we buy any house’ companies operating in that sector but unfortunately for every good and legal company, there is a scam and fraudster ready to rip you off and ruin your day. As a guide you should look for the following process from a ‘we buy houses’ company:
When you get in touch they will take some basic information and make a cash offer.
If you accept an offer the company will then carry on with no costs or fees to you.
The company will cover all legal fees.
You’ll agree on a completion date and normally it’s a few weeks.
The sale should then go through unimpeded the company will not lower their fee at the last minute.
You’ll then agree on a completion date, and this shouldn’t be any longer than a month away.
The sale will go through on the scheduled completion date.
1. Lead generation scams
Data is big business the government expects data-driven tech to be worth more than £60 billion. Many ‘we buy any house’ companies aren’t actually real companies at all.
They’re lead gen companies and they’ll use websites or landing pages to get your data via you signing up, they will then sell your data on to third parties for profit, this can even be resold down the line. So ensure you know who you are dealing with!
By giving fake and bogus valuations many ‘we buy any house’ companies make money by reducing the value of your home, a genuine ‘we buy any house’ company will use a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey or independent estate agents to gauge the property value and base their offerings on that.
3. Hidden fee’s
Unfortunately, some ‘we buy any house scams’ will hide fees in the paperwork that you only see at the last moment which can sometimes be far too late to change your mind. A legit company will not charge any fee’s and the price offered is the money you’ll get on completion.
Known as Gazundering it happens more often than we like to think and it’s a common trick used by scammers in the ‘we buy any house’ sector. On the expected completion day the company will reduce their offer or threaten to back out, this can reduce the price by thousands of pounds and leaves you very little room to negotiate.
An example of a review of a scam company -
If it’s a real and genuine ‘we buy any house’ company they’ll get their offer in writing and have it signed.
‘We buy any house’ companies trying to get you to lock into an agreement are most likely fraudulent, by lockin in you will be unable to sell your house to anyone else and they might try to reduce the price or try any of the other scams we’ve spoken about.
Real example -
Sometimes the ‘option’ give a clause that lets the scammers sell your house via third parties or using assisted sales or lease options that can’t guarantee a sale and often have other fee’s involved and can take time to complete. Legitimate ‘we buy any house’ companies will not get an option agreement before contracts or written details of an agreement.
Another sample -
How can you avoid ‘we buy homes’ scams?
There are many steps you can take to keep you safer and avoid ‘we buy any house’ scams.
You should immediately stop and walk away from a company if:
They ask for money up-front
Ask for any fee’s
As you to lockin or sign an option agreement
Say they’ll pay 95% or 100% of the market value
Do not want to give documentation
Researching if the company you are dealing with are on companies house You will also be able to see how long they have been trading as well as this, they should clearly display their company name and company number on their website
The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) accreditations (badges) should be clearly displayed but also don’t forget to check in with the companies to see if they are listing the members on their site too.
The National Association of Estate Agents now know as Propertymark
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
The Approved Code of Trading Standards
You may find some sites are also listing themselves as anti-money laundering etc. this is a normal part of running a company so isn’t really an accreditation.
Legitimate or other ‘we buy any house’ companies will have some form of testimonials from ‘customers’ on the website, they can be easy to forge and can’t always be trusted. Independent review sites such as Trustpilot, Feefo, reviews.co.uk and Allagents should be used as they validate genuine reviews. If the company doesn’t have up to date reviews or worse few/none at all this will act as a big red flag. The other side of the coin is if a fairly new company has a lot of new reviews in a short space of time it can indicate fake reviews.
Go with your gut! If you get a bad feeling you might be right and so helping you avoid a ‘we buy any house’ scam. Normally is it sounds too good to be true then it isn’t true. Companies offering full market values, promising to complete a sale in an unbelievable time span should be scrutinised for their legitimacy.
Ask them for proof of funds many of the ‘we buy any house’ companies will be offering to buy a property for cash but it’s a different story if they even have any cash or funds available. Ensuring they have funds will ensure you avoid getting ripped off. You should also get clear and written details of any costs involves/incurred. Legit companies won’t charge fees and will cover all legal costs.
Find out their solicitor as soon as you can to verify them and the company, most ‘we buy any house’ companies will use their own solicitor. If they refuse or are not able to give details about
their conveyancer (solicitor) you should not deal with that company.
Very often they are skimmed over and should be published on the website, take a moment to see how they will process your data, sometimes you’ll even be able to spot if a ‘we buy any house’ company is selling your data via this method.
If you’re worried don’t be afraid to Google the company and see what other people might be saying, this might be on social media or on forums and you can sometimes dig up information that’s not available in other places.
The best way to avoid a ‘we buy any house’ scam, is to not use them, selling your house via an estate agent will help you avoid getting scammed as estate agents are regulated. Using an estate agent will enable you to get the full value of the property, you could also consider using an auction to help sell your property, this can be a fast way to sell though with an unknown value.
A good agent will be active and help you sell your home and be working with you to give you peace of mind.
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