Traditionally, anyone with a house to sell in the U.K. would use an Estate Agent. As they were ranked 2nd in a Radio 4 poll of "least respected workers" (M.P.'s were 1st!), for many people they are seen as a necessary evil.
A small minority of people manage to sell their house privately by doing their own advertising and putting up their own For Sale board, but as their property does not appear in the Estate Agent's press adverts or websites, this is very much a hit and miss affair.
Even when a sale is secured, the legal system in England & Wales means that until contracts are exchanged – typically many weeks later – the sale can fall through. In fact one in three agreed sales do not complete, meaning that the sale process has to start all over again.
For anyone relocating or emigrating this is frustrating and annoying as plans have to be put on hold. For people with financial difficulties or in danger of having their house repossessed, it can be very serious indeed.
A realistic alternative to Estate Agents
At last there is an alternative to using an Estate Agent. Using a specialist property-buying company offers the speed and certainty lacking if selling on the open market through an Estate Agent.
Companies like A Quick Sale (http://www.aquicksale.co.uk ) are now offering a service that more and more people see as a better alternative than waiting and hoping for an elusive buyer. They will normally make an offer to buy a property within a few days, completing at a date to suit you, so that people can move on with their lives.
So, what's the catch? Well, the main one is that they will be looking to buy the property at a reduction from the open market value. How much of a reduction often depends on the type and size of property but is likely to be at least 10%.
The other thing to watch out for is that some of these companies charge an upfront valuation fee of several hundred pounds. Whilst this is usually refundable if you go ahead and sell to them, it is quite possible that their offer on your property will be unacceptable to you, leaving you out of pocket!
Questions to ask
If the speed and certainty of selling to a property-buying company appeals to you, what do you need to look out for?
Probably the first question to ask is – will it cost me anything to get an offer on my property? A national house buying company featured on Watchdog last year after many complaints fro people who had paid a valuation fee and then offered much less than their property was worth.
You wouldn't expect to pay an Estate Agent for a valuation, so why pay these companies?
The next question most people need answering is – can I rely on this company? Can they fit around me? These companies should be asking you about your timescales and deadlines and tailoring a solution around these. Look carefully at their literature and website to see if they are flexible and offer a range of solutions. It is also a good idea to ask them for examples or testimonials from previous customers.
So, if you have a property to sell, before you call an Estate Agent, it might be worth checking out a couple of these companies who can offer you a quick sale.
All information contained in this article, is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as advice under the Financial Services Act 1986.
You are strongly advised to take appropriate professional and legal advice before entering into any binding contracts.