According to a 2022 study by Zoopla, on average it takes nearly 6 months to sell your house with an estate agent. This means it takes even longer than that for an unlucky half of homesellers.
With such a long wait, it's only natural that alternatives would emerge... that's where Cash House Buying Companies come in.
So let's start with the basics. What is a Cash House Buyer?
Cash House Buying Companies buy homes directly from sellers. They pay less than market value, but offer a much faster and more certain way to sell your house compared with estate agents or property auctions. They're also willing to buy any property, even if it has issues.
I've worked in and around the "Cash House Buying" industry since 2013. During that time I've worked with (or competed against) dozens of these companies, including all the biggest players.
In this article I want to peel back the curtain and share the truth about selling your house fast to a Cash House Buying Company. If you're considering using one, I think you'll find this article really helpful.
If you want to cut right to the chase and find out whether or not a cash house buyer is for you, I've designed a short quiz. Hit the link below to get started:
Let's start with an overview.
1. Are Cash House Buyers any good?
First of all, are property cash buyers any good?
Genuine Cash House Buyers are a very good option if you want to sell your house quickly. They can make you a formal offer within 1-2 days, and buy your home within 2-3 weeks. However, because they pay a reduced price for your home they aren't right for everyone.
This table shows the difference between selling to a cash house buyer and selling with an estate agent.
If you pick the right Cash House Buyer, they'll basically give you the easiest house sale you'll ever have.
Let's cover some of the benefits in more detail.
2. Benefits of Cash House Buyers
Let's face it: selling your house with an estate agent is a pain. Why is it so bad?
- Delays. On average it takes almost 6 months according to a 2022 study by Zoopla. For the unlucky half of home sellers, it takes even longer than that.
- Stress. People don't just complain about the time it takes to sell though. The whole sale process is really stressful too. You've got to deal with estate agents, conveyancing solicitors, buyers and mortgage surveyors. It's a headache.
- Uncertainty. Even if everything's going to plan, there's still a chance everything might fall apart. (For example, we surveyed 305 recent home sellers and learned that an incredible 31% had a sale fall through at least once).
So the best part of selling to a Cash House Buyer is you'll avoid a lot of the delays, stress, and uncertainty that drive home sellers mad when they sell through an estate agent.
Here are some of the specific benefits you'll enjoy if you choose to sell your house to a cash house buyer.
Pro #1 - Speed
As we've covered, the average house sale takes around 6 months. Selling by auction is faster, but it still takes around 10-12 weeks.
So is it quicker to sell to a cash buyer?
Selling to a cash house-buying company is much quicker than selling through an estate agent or by auction. You can sell to a Cash House Buyer in as little as 2-3 weeks, but the timeframes are totally flexible. This means you can set the completion date to suit your plans.
In fact, a few years ago we were even able to buy one client's home in just 6 days from the date they first called us.
Pro #2 - Certainty
Most people think that when they choose to sell their house, it's a sure thing that they'll actually sell. Unfortunately, this isn't the case:
- Estate Agent success rate: According to research from financial services firm Jefferies, estate agents only sell around 51% of the properties they take on. My personal experience pretty much mirrors this as well.
- Property Auction success rate: Property auctions offer a much higher chance of success, but it still only hovers between 70-80% for most auction houses.
- Cash House Buyer success rate: Selling to a Cash House Buyer offers complete certainty though: if you accept their offer then the property will sell.
Pro #3 - Their "We buy any house" approach
One of the key selling points of Cash House Buyers is that they'll buy any house. It means they'll make you an offer regardless of the property's condition, how messy it is inside, or how severe any issues are.
You can even sell a house with subsidence to them.
Although this is a benefit in some ways, if your home has serious defects then I'd actually encourage you to consider selling by auction instead. Cash House Buyers will buy any house, but if your home has serious issues they'll buy only it at a serious discount.
This means auction makes more sense for most people.
Pro #4 - Sell your house as-is
Another benefit of using a Cash House Buyer is that you can sell your house as-is. No need to refurb and redecorate before you sell (and there's definitely no need to have the scent of freshly baked bread permeating through your home for house viewings).
House-buying companies are commercially minded and won't be swayed by clutter, mess, or a much-needed renovation. You can easily sell your house as-is, and just move on.
Pro #5 - No viewings
On a similar note, you won't have to carry out any viewings. No tidying the house up to impress strangers, no having them traipsing through your home. You simply agree a price with the company and get ready to move on.
Pro #6 - No estate agents
I really don't like bashing on estate agents because the truth is that there are a lot of really good ones out there.
But there are lots of bad ones too...
In fact, in a 2022 survey we asked 291 recent home sellers how satisfied they were with their estate agent. Nearly a third scored their estate agent 6/10 or lower.
Again, not all estate agents are bad... But if you choose to sell to a Cash House Buying Company, you won't have to worry about dealing with any.
Pro #7 - Chain-free buyer
Housing chains delay sales and increase the likelihood of your sale falling through. Companies who buy your house are chain-free though, meaning your sale will be much quicker and more straight-forward.
Many people look up how to sell a house quickly because they want to buy their dream home before someone else does. Cash House Buyers are a really good solution here because they're chain-free.
Pro #8 - No fees (kind of...)
Many Cash House Buyers will list "no fees!" as one of their benefits. They'll claim this makes them the cheapest way to sell a house.
But it's not really true. I included this as a benefit here because I wanted to debunk that myth:
- While it's correct that most house-buying companies don't charge fees, it's important to consider the bigger picture...
- These companies buy your home for a substantial discount to its full value - that's how they make their money.
- So although they aren't directly charging you fees, this is without doubt the most expensive way to sell your house.
3. Cons of selling to a House Buying Company
Now we've explored the benefits of selling to a Cash House Buyer, let's look at the disadvantages.
What are the downsides of selling to a Cash House Buyer?
The main downsides of selling to a Cash House Buying company are the low price they'll offer (which is usually around 80-85% of your home's value), and the fact the industry is poorly regulated. This means a lot of the biggest companies rely on very unethical tactics.
Let's explore them in more detail.
Con #1 - Low sale price
A Cash House Buyer is a great way to get a quick, certain sale and move house to your timeframes.
Unfortunately though, the major compromise home sellers make is on the price:
- House buying companies offer substantially less than the market value.
- Typically, you should expect to sell your house for 15-20% less than its full value.
- Some home sellers feel the compromise is worthwhile for the quick, certain sale...
- ... But it's such a big drop that this simply isn't the right option for most home sellers.
This is the biggest disadvantage of selling to a Cash House Buyer.
If you want a fast sale and you're open to selling your home for a discount, then a Cash House Buyer might be the right option for you... I've designed a short quiz to help you figure out your possible next steps.
Hit the button below to take the quiz. If a Cash House Buyer looks like the right fit I'll have some recommendations and contacts waiting for you on your results page.
Con #2 - Lack of regulation
Another big downside of venturing into the "Cash House Buyer" market is how poorly regulated it is.
Let's address the elephant in the room first of all:
This is what The Property Ombudsman and the National Association of Property Buyers each say about their powers:
- The Property Ombudsman: "The Ombudsman is not a regulator and does not have the authority to take regulatory or legal action against an agent, impose fines or dictate the way agents conduct their business." - source
- The National Association of Property Buyers: "The NAPB is not in itself a redress scheme or regulator, it can provide information to anybody who feels that they have been unfairly treated." - source
So cash House Buying Companies are not regulated.
So that's it. You're about to make one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, and the organisations overseeing the industry have no regulatory powers. They can provide information if you feel you've been mistreated, and maybe give the firm a slap on the wrist.
That's not much help if you feel you've just been scammed out of tens of thousands of pounds - as many people are every week.
While the Ombudsman and NAPB are well-meaning, unfortunately they're only able to give an illusion of safety, but no real protection.
Ultimately, I share all this to make that point that a Cash House Buyer isn't automatically safe to use just because they display these badges.
Possible Trading Standards Intervention
Trading Standards are aware there's an issue.
In a BBC article in 2020, Alison Farrar confirmed that Trading Standards had "a few of these companies on their radar", and imagined there were "quite a few more we don't know about".
But there's been no talk of stricter regulations since.
These companies could be committing serious crimes with the way they behave though.
Lee Reynolds, a barrister specialising in Trading Standards Law, said "dropping the price of someone's house is a potential breach of what's called Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations... That's punishable by up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine."
Hopefully strict regulations will follow in the future. Until then, I can put you in direct contact with one of the largest cash house buyers in the country, and the only one I personally trust. Take this quiz to see if you're a good fit for a Cash House Buyer, and I'll be able to recommend the best company on your quiz results page.
Con #3 - Scams & Dodgy Companies
Wherever you get an industry with poor regulation, you get lot's of unethical companies popping up to take advantage of it.
Because of this, the "quick house sale" industry has earned a really poor reputation.
I wanted to see just how bad this reputation has become, so we surveyed 562 adults and asked how trustworthy they thought Cash House Buying companies are. 58% of those who had a pre-conception of Cash House Buyers said they thought they were "not trustworthy at all".
So what can you do if you want to use a Cash House Buyer?
Well, you might think there aren't too many around, so picking the good from the bad will be pretty straightforward.
Unfortunately, it's much more difficult than this, partly because of the sheer number of companies to keep up with.
How many Cash House Buyers are there?
It's impossible to know how many Cash House Buyers are operating in the UK, but the number is in the region of 200-300. We were able to identify over 100 different companies in under 5 minutes using search engines.
So there are tons of companies out there.
But the thing I find really scary is this...
- We often have a preconception that dodgy companies are always small business with grim sales people, and that we'll be able to smell the scam a mile off...
- So we think that as long as we go for bigger companies, we'll be safe.
- Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth when it comes to the Cash House Buying industry...
- This is because many of the biggest businesses have the worst track records for using unethical practices.
The common tactics include:
- Dropping their offer at the last minute
- Misselling "option" agreements and "purchase" agreement as actual cash sales
- False or misleading advertising
- Untraceable companies/directors
- Manipulating online reviews.
You can read more in this article: The Top 5 We Buy Any House "Scams" Exposed
In the mean time, check out these reviews exposing some of the biggest companies in the industry:
If these are making you nervous but want to sell to a Cash House Buyer, don't worry. I can recommend safe-to-use Cash House Buyers who are genuine, and don't employ any of these tactics.
The first step is to find out whether a house-buying company is really the right option. If it is, I can introduce you to the one company I trust.
Take this 60-second quiz to get started.
4. How much do Cash House Buyers pay?
As we've covered, Cash House Buyers are the fastest way to sell your house, but it comes with a substantial compromise on the price. So how much do Cash House Buyers pay?
Cash House Buying companies pay around 80-85% of your property's full value. This is less than you'd get selling with an estate agent, but you'll make some cost savings which should be factored in. For example, you won't have to pay estate agent or legal fees, and you may save on monthly payments by selling more quickly.
If this level of discount feels acceptable to you and you'd like to get an offer, take this free quiz. If a house-buying company looks like a suitable option, I'll ask my preferred Cash House Buyer to contact you directly. They'll give you a genuine cash offer within 24-48 hours.
4.1 Why don't Cash House Buyers offer higher prices?
To most of us, 80-85% of market value seems like a really low figure. Why don't some companies pay more?
House-buying companies make their profit by buying your home below market value, and then stepping into your shoes as the new owner and trying to sell it for the full market value.
They incur a lot of costs by buying and selling homes though, so they have to be buying at around 80-85% of value to cover their costs and make a profit.
This is why you won't find a genuine company who's able to offer more than that. Especially in a market like this one where prices are beginning to fall.
I'm not suggesting you should feel sorry for Cash House Buyers because of all their costs... but when you see them buying properties at 80-85% of the market value just remember two things:
- They aren't being as greedy as they look. They have to buy homes at relatively low prices to cover their costs and make a worthwhile profit.
- Any company claiming to offer 90% of the market value of more simply isn't being truthful. There just isn't enough scope to cover their costs and make a profit when buying properties at this kind of price.
So if Cash House Buying companies pay relatively low prices, should you use one? If so, who's the best?
5. Should you sell to a Cash House Buyer?
Cash House Buyers are the fastest way to sell your house. They offer an easy, hassle-free house sale, but should YOU use one?
For most people, the answer should be "no". In today's property market, most people simply can't afford to take a 15-20% discount on their sale price.
But what if you can afford to sell for a discount??
If your home doesn't have a large mortgage against it and if you can afford to sell for less than its full value, then Cash House Buyers can be a really good option. Especially if you feel that time and convenience are more valuable to you than getting the best possible price for your property.
Some examples of types of homeowners who choose to sell to a Cash House Buyer include:
- Chain repair. If your house sale falls through and you don't want to lose your onward purchase then Cash House Buyers can make perfect sense. You may even be able to get other parties in your chain to absorb some of the reduced price. For a great example, check out this "chain repair" case study to read about the experience one of our readers had after opting for a House-Buying Company.
- Relocation/Emigration. If you have a deadline for relocating then a lengthy sale with an estate agent may not be an option.
- Separation/Divorce. Even though you'll see for a lower price, many in this position feel that it can be worth it to avoid a drawn-out separation. Personally I'd always recommend trying to work with your partner, as you'll both end up better off if you can navigate a traditional house sale together. Many prefer to cut ties sooner though, so a cash house sale makes sense for many.
- Inheritance. Selling directly to a house buying company can be a good way to sell an inherited property, and it can help settle an estate and find closure more quickly.
- Downsizing. If you want to move with as little stress as possible, the convenience that house-buying companies offer can make them a good option to help you downsize quickly and easily.
- I've written more about the reasons people opt for a fast house sale here.
Ultimately, if you're considering selling to a Cash House Buyer then it's up to you to decide how you feel about the compromise you'll have to make on the price, versus how valuable the speed and certainty is to you.
6. Who is the best cash house buyer?
As we've outlined in this article there are over 200 Cash House Buyers operating in the UK. Start searching on Google and you'll easily be able to find 100 of them in the next 5 minutes.
The amount of choice is overwhelming, and because the industry is so poorly regulated it's difficult to find a genuine one who really "do what they say on the tin".
Contact my recommended Cash House Buyer
I've worked in and around the "Cash House Buyer" industry for nearly 10 years though, and know nearly all of the main players.
If you're thinking about a fast sale, the first thing you need to do is find out whether or not this is really the right option for you...
I designed a short 60-second quiz to help you do just that.
If a Cash House Buyer is the right option, I'll introduce you to the company I know and trust on your quiz results page.
Hit the button below to get started.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert