What to consider when selling your home to a cash buyer

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There are three types of cash buyer:

  • Professional
  • Individual property investors
  • People who claim to be ‘cash buyers’ but sell your details onto a third party

When you contact someone claiming to be a cash buyer first check whether they are using their own funds, borrowing via mortgage or selling your details to someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of funds from the buyer.

If you are dealing with a company, rather than an individual, ask if they are members of one or both the National Association of Property Buyers and/or The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO).

You can check they are members of NAPB or The TPO.

 

Check their code of practice to see what safeguards you have when selling your home to a cash buyer. Members of the NAPB must have signed up to The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Property Buying Companies. Being a member of this scheme means they cannot, for example, reduce the price at the last moment without good reason.

 

Find out if the cash buyer charges any fees for their service – if they do, consider other companies as many don’t charge.

 

Ask how much less the company will offer than the estimated sale price of the property. For example, if your property is worth £200,000 will they offer 10% less, 20% less, or expect a bigger reduction?

 

Find out what the process is to value your home. There are typically two ways to do this:

  • A ‘desktop’ valuation – this considers online research and chats with local agents on the phone;
  • A personal valuation – this includes a visit to meet you and the property and is sometimes carried out by a Royal Institution Chartered Surveyor. If they have an RICS survey carried out, ask to see it (and remember to check who pays for it).
  • Some companies will do a ‘desktop’ valuation first and also an RICS evaluation. It is generally this RICS evaluation that forms the basis of the offer.

If you are feeling unsure, ask to see any contracts and have it independently checked by a solicitor. This may cost a few hundred pounds but could be worth it in the long run.

Ask if the offer you are receiving is guaranteed or if it could change later. Find out under what circumstances it could change – for example if the survey results highlight issues with the property.

Find out how long it will take them to buy your home – days or weeks – and whatever the timescale, find out how they are able to buy quickly. For example, it shouldn’t take more than 4-6 weeks. Some companies have cash funds readily available and use solicitors who are experienced and able to act fast.

Ask what you will pay for and what the company will pay on your behalf. For example, if you are currently selling through an agent, will you still have to pay the agent? Will the company pay for your legal fees?

If the company offers to pay your legal fees, can you choose which legal company you want to work with if you have someone you trust?

Ask if there is a tie-in clause. Some companies require you to sign one of these and it means you can’t sell your property to anyone else during the time period it covers.

Ask what happens if the company pulls out of the deal for any reason – for example through lack of funds. Will they refund your costs or find you another cash buyer?

Ask what happens if you decide to pull out of the sale. Will you have to pay any fees? Some companies allow you to pull out the sale at no cost before exchange of contracts.

More information, help and no-obligation advice is available at House Buy Fast.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of
Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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