Unfortunately, selling your house is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful life events we ever go through. A big part of that is because selling a house just takes so long!
This guide is here to try and help you avoid the delays and sell much more quickly.
I've developed a simple quick-sale process that consists of 3 easy-to-follow steps. Let's start with an overview:
Choosing the right selling method is the first step to selling your house quickly. This is because estate agent sales take an average of 25 weeks, whereas other methods take only 2-4 weeks. Next, choose a reliable company with a proven track record for quick sales. Finally, be proactive to accelerate your sale further.
So what are the quicker alternatives to selling with an estate agent?
Well, the quickest way to sell your house is going directly to a quick-sale company:
- Quick-sale companies buy your home from you directly. They can make you a genuine cash offer within 1-2 working days.
- If you accept, they can buy your house in as little as 2 weeks. (Timeframes are totally flexible though, meaning you're in control).
- They could be a good fit if selling your house quickly is more important to you than getting the highest possible price.
This article will cover my 3-step quick sale process in more detail, but if you want to jump ahead and find out if a quick-sale company is right for you, take the free quiz I've designed for you:
Step 1. Choose the right home selling method (Estate Agent alternatives)
The biggest decision comes right at the start. How quickly you can sell your house will depend massively on which selling method you choose.
Let's start with an overview so you can see what you're up against:
1.1 How quickly do most houses sell?
The average home sale takes 18-35 weeks from start to finish. This is comprised of around 1 week to list your property, 5-14 weeks to find a buyer, 12-16 weeks for the conveyancing and mortgage, and up to 4 weeks between exchange and completion. It can take much longer though, with many sales taking over a year.
These are the average timeframes if you choose to sell with an estate agent.
The figures come from a huge 2023 study by Zoopla. They also closely mirror my own personal experience from selling hundreds of properties via estate agents over the last 15 years.
So if you want to sell your house quickly, it's unlikely that estate agents are going to deliver.
Thankfully, there are other ways to sell your house...
1.2 The four ways to sell your house (price vs speed)
Let's cover the 4 main ways now:
- Estate Agent.
Around 97% of properties are sold this way. You'll usually secure the highest price, but you'll probably have the longest, most drawn-out and most stressful sale.
- Modern Auction.
Roughly 1% of properties sell via modern auction. They're faster than estate agents but take a little longer than traditional auctions. You'll have a little less certainty than with traditional auctions too. But the idea is that you'll get a higher selling price at a modern auction than at a traditional one.
- Traditional Auction.
Around 1-2% of properties sell this way. (This is the kind of auction you see on "Homes Under The Hammer".) It often requires more of a compromise on your selling price, but it's a much faster and more certain way to sell. It's best suited to "problem-properties", or homes needing a lot of work.
- Quick House Sale Companies (a.k.a. House-Buying Companies).
This service is more niche, with less than 1% of properties selling this way. But if you want to know how to sell your house quickly, this is the quickest option you've got. It requires the greatest compromise on price, but you'll enjoy speed as well as complete certainty. (More on this later.)
As you can see from the list above, the main difference between the 4 selling methods is that some offer greater speed and certainty than others.
However, that speed and certainty always comes at a cost. This means it's never an easy choice.
You can think of this as almost an unbreakable "law" when it comes to property sales. I call it the "Property Price-Time Tradeoff", and it looks like this:
So how do you sell your house quickly? It's important to decide how much you're prepared to compromise on your selling price. This opens up alternative selling options that are much quicker.
But what if you can't compromise on your price at all? I've got you covered:
Moving forward with the rest of this guide, we'll assume you're prepared to compromise on your selling price somewhat to get a quicker house sale.
1.3 The quickest ways to sell your house
Each selling method has a different timeframe attached. This table compares them to show you how long each one takes:
An estate agent will usually get you the highest price, but it's the longest process and there's a lot of uncertainty.
So what's the quickest you can sell your house?
The quickest you can sell a house is in around 7-14 days. You can do this by selling your home directly to a reputable, well-funded quick-sale company. They pay less than market value, but offer a much faster and more certain way to sell compared with estate agents or property auctions.
In fact, I've personally bought a property within just 3 days of the seller contacting me. That was a really rare situation and wouldn't easily be replicated, but it can be done.
So 7-14 days is realistic when using a genuine house-buying company.
Here are two other things we can learn from this table about how to sell your house quickly:
- Auctions. You can expect to sell your house by auction within 3-4 months. This is faster that an estate agent, but still slower than a quick-sale company. Auctions don't offer the same level of certainty as quick-sale companies either: Only around 70-80% of properties that go to auction sell successfully.
- Quick-sale companies. These are by far the quickest and most certain way to sell. They require a greater compromise on price, but you can sell in as little as 2-3 weeks. (In some cases, you can even sell your house in 7 days if you really need to). Timeframes are totally flexible though, meaning you're in control.
So what's the takeaway?
If you want to sell your house quickly, and if you want to know for sure that it'll go through, the only option is to sell to a quick-sale company.
If you want to sell your house quickly, and if you want to know with complete certainty that it'll go through, the only option is to sell to a quick-sale company.
Quick-sale companies DO require the biggest compromise on price though, so this isn't a no-brainer...
1.4 Quick-sale companies vs Estate agents
We'll cover quick-sale companies in more detail below, but here's an overview of how they differ to estate agents:
If you want to cut right to the chase and see if a house-buying company is the right fit for you, take the free quiz I've designed for you.
If a quick-sale company looks like a good option, I can connect you directly with a leading company I know and trust. They can give you a rough price within a few hours and a formal, guaranteed cash offer within 1-2 working days.
Click below to take the quiz:
If you want to learn more about quick-sale companies first, we're going to cover the pros and cons below. After that, we'll move on to how to find the best quick-sale company. The final section covers some pointers on how to make sure your sale to a house-buying company goes quickly and smoothly.
1.5 Quick-sale companies (Pros and Cons)
Quick House Sale Companies go by many names. Just so we're all on the same page, here are a few of them:
These all refer to companies who buy your house from you directly.
As we've covered, they're the fastest way to sell your house. But let's dive into more of the pros and cons. After that, we'll talk through how to find the best quick-sale company.
Pro #1: Speed
Pro #2: Certainty
Pro #3: Convenience
Estate agents don't just lack speed and certainty. Selling your house with an estate agent is also a headache.
(And I've got plenty of personal experience... I've sold over 100 of my own properties through estate agents, and sold hundreds of my customers' properties with them.)
I've been through it, and there's just a lot of faff.
Quick-sale companies offer a completely different service though. The level of convenience is just unmatched:
There are all sorts of reasons why people sell their house quickly and use a quick-sale company. Because of this, companies really focus on customer service and delivering a smooth, stress-free sale.
As you can see, I'm pretty upbeat about the benefits of selling your house quickly to a company. But let's get into the downsides...
Con #1: Lower selling price
Genuine, well-funded house buying companies usually offer in the region of 78-83% of your property’s "market value".
What is "market value"?
I tend to describe the "market value" of a property as the price you may end up achieving after a 6-month sale with a good local estate agent. It's the best price that any buyers in the market at that time were willing to pay.
So house-buying companies pay around 20% less than that. You will save some costs though:
- Estate agent fees. You won't have an estate agent to pay, as the quick-sale company buys from you directly. This will save you 1-2% on average.
- Solicitor fees. Most quick-sale companies will cover your legal costs. These are usually £1,000-£2,000.
- Holding costs (Mortgage, council tax, insurance and so on). Don't forget to consider these costs too – especially if your property is currently empty or if you're downsizing. In these cases, the sooner you sell the more of these costs you'll save.
Even with these savings, you'll still end up with less overall. Without a doubt, this is the biggest downside of selling to a quick sale company.
I wrote a more detailed breakdown about prices here:
Con #2: Lack of regulation
Unfortunately, quick sale companies are completely unregulated. This means that bad practices are rife, and it's difficult to find a genuine company.
There are two badges you'll see on many firms' websites. These can give a false impression of safety, so let me quickly address them:
- The Property Ombudsman. Many quick-sale companies are members of The Property Ombudsman, but this is a voluntary redress scheme and not a regulator. In their own words, the Property Ombudsman "do not have the authority to take regulatory or legal action" against companies. (Source).
- The National Association of Property Buyers. This organisation was formed in 2013 as a response to pressure from the Office of Fair Trading. But it also has no regulatory powers. In its own words, "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).
A fresh round of complaints about quick-sale companies surfaced in 2020, and Trading Standards publicly stated that they had "a few of these companies on their radar". Unfortunately there's been little update since.
Usually, online reviews can be a good way to find the best products and companies. Sadly, house-buying companies have gamed the system, and so their online reputations are extremely difficult to trust too.
Thankfully, in the next section I'm going to walk you through how to find the best quick-sale companies.
If you want to jump ahead, you can connect directly with a company I know and trust, and who I've been working with for over 8 years.
Take my free quiz below to see if you're a fit. If you are, I'll introduce you to them directly on your quiz results page:
P.S., you can read more pros and cons about quick-sale companies here: Is it worth selling your house to a house-buying company?
Step 2. How to find the best quick-sale companies
The next step in my "how to sell your house quickly" 3-step process is finding the best quick-sale company.
As you may have seen in the section above, this can be really difficult because quick-sale companies are unregulated.
This means lots of bad trading practices have emerged.
(Don't be put off selling to a quick-sale company because of all the bad eggs though. I know this industry inside and out and can connect you directly with a genuine, trustworthy house-buying company. Take our free quiz to see if you're a fit and to get a free introduction.)
2.1 Quick-sale company scams to watch out for
Going back to the poor trading practices, these include:
- Dropping the price at the last minute.
- Mis-selling "option agreements" or "purchase agreements" as actual offers.
- Manipulating online reviews.
- False advertising and empty promises.
- Untraceable directors.
I won't cover these in detail in this guide, but I've given an in-depth breakdown of each tactic here:
The problem with these tactics is they're really profitable for the companies. (That's why they use them.)
So you get this situation where the most dodgy companies become many of the biggest and most successful.
Because these dodgy tactics are so profitable, the most unethical companies become many of the biggest and most successful.
It's like the opposite of the cream rising to the top...
Because companies can make nice websites and manipulate their online reviews, it's basically impossible to spot the genuine companies from the bad ones.
2.2 How to avoid "we buy any house" scams
That's one of the reasons my wife and I started this website: to help connect you with genuine companies who can help.
We designed a free quiz you can use to connect with companies you can trust, but if you'd like to explore going it alone here are 7 best-practices to follow:
- If shopping around, don't just go with the highest offer. It's easy for companies to make false promises and draw you in with a high initial price. But since they can reduce their offer at any time, you may just end up with the one who's the most dishonest, and who plan drop their offer the furthest later on.
- Make sure the offer is guarantee-backed. The quick-sale company I personally recommend give you a guarantee when they make their offer. It states they have to pay you compensation if they reduce their offer. T&Cs apply, but it gives you peace-of-mind that they don't intend to drop their offer at the last minute. If a company won't guarantee their offer, why won't they?
- Never sign anything (especially a "purchase agreement" or "option agreement"). If a buyer comes in to your home with an estate agent and makes you an offer, you don't have to sign a contract with them... It's the same with house-buying companies. There’s no genuine reason you need to sign a contract. If a company is trying to make you, they likely have ulterior motives.
- Get proof of funds. If the company's buying your house, they should be able to show you that they actually have some money! If they can't (or won't), I'd advise walking away.
- Demand the survey is done at the start of the process. Many companies use the survey results to drop their offer. Leaving it to the last minute puts you in a more vulnerable position where you may have fewer alternatives but to accept. Insist it's done at the start of the process, and walk away if they're delaying.
- Demand exchange of contracts asap. "Exchange" is the point where the sale becomes legally binding. It gives you complete certainty that the deal is done. There can be no surprise price-drops after exchange, so insist on it happening ASAP.
- Get a recommendation. I’ve worked in and around the house-buying company industry since 2014, and I know most of the major players. There’s one house-buying company I recommend that are head and shoulders above the rest. They have an outstanding track-record with our readers and I can connect you with them too. Take the quiz to see if you're a fit, and to get your free introduction.
It's a real shame that regulators still haven't stepped in to sort the industry. I hear from homeowners regularly who've fallen victim to one of more of the practices outlined here, and it can be really devastating.
You go to a quick-sale company for certainty and convenience. Being messed around by unethical companies is the last thing you want.
We started our website to share this sort of information, and to connect you with genuine companies I know and trust who can help you. Feel free to take advantage of this:
Start with this free quiz, and see if a quick-sale company seems like a match for you. If it does, I'll introduce you directly with the quick-sale firm I recommend.
Step 3. Be responsive and contactable (don't underestimate this one)
So you wanted to sell your house quickly. You considered alternative selling methods and chose to sell directly to a house-buying company.
You found a genuine company, either through our recommendation or elsewhere, and now you've accepted the company's offer.
Well, there are still a few important steps I recommend following to really make sure you get the quick, simple sale that you signed up for.
These are fairly simple, but not doing them can start to cause delays. I've seen it over and over again when a seller ends up being the one holding up their own "quick sale"!
So here are the basic rules to follow if you sell your house to a quick-sale company;
- Choose your completion date. Be clear on the date you'd like the sale to complete on. This gives everyone something to aim for.
If you aren't clear yet when you need to complete (for example, because you're buying another property and don't know when it'll complete), then give regular updates about what your target date is looking like.
- Fill out initial forms quickly. At the start of the process you'll need to complete the initial "property information" forms for your solicitor. These are around 30 pages of simple (but not fun) questions about the property. They're no different to that standard forms you have to complete when selling through an estate agent.
They're mostly tick-box questions, so it's easy enough to fly through them quickly. The sooner you return them, the sooner the solicitors can begin work on everything else.
- Be contactable and responsive. Remember how the average estate agent sale takes 25 weeks? That's because there's a lot to co-ordinate whenever you sell a house. Quick-sale companies fly through that process much more quickly, but many of those things still need coordinating.
Try and be contactable so things can be resolved as they crop up. This helps everyone maintain momentum. If you miss calls, try and return them when you're next available.
- Sort access for the survey. The quick-sale company will need to survey the property to check there are no serious issues (such as subsidence, for example).
Make sure you have access arrangements in place so they can get in. If you don't live near the property, consider leaving keys with a friendly neighbour, for example.
- Respond to solicitors quickly. Your solicitors may contact you for additional information about the property. These are called "enquiries" in the conveyancing world, and they're a lot of what the solicitor are paid to actually sort. Go back to your solicitor promptly with the information they need.
These are really simple things, but not doing these can hold your sale up. If the company can't reach you, it may delay the process.
Maintain communications and it'll help you sell your property quickly in the timeframes you want.
Should you sell to a quick-sale company?
So this has been how to sell your house quickly. First, choose the correct selling method, then find a reputable company, and then be responsive to maintain momentum and help accelerate the sale further.
But is this process right for you?
There are 3 simple questions you can ask yourself to see if it's worth exploring quick-sale companies further:
- Are speed and certainty more important than price to you? Do you value speed and certainty over getting the highest possible price for your home? If so, a quick-sale company could be the way to go.
(If you value getting the highest price, check out my article on selling your house fast for the best price.)
- Are you prepared to compromise on the price? Quick-sale companies buy your home at around 80% of its value. You'll save a few thousand pounds of fees, but it's still a significant compromise. Is the speed and certainty worth the compromise for you?
- Is your property a fit for a quick-sale company? These companies all famously say "we buy any house", but they're actually more picky than you'd expect. So if a property worries them or they just don't want to buy it, they may just give you a ridiculous offer you'd never accept.
It's hard to know whether your property will fit their criteria, but our free quiz can help.
For most people, whether or not a quick-sale company is the right fit will depend on how much they offer for your home.
The only way to find that out for sure is to speak with one and get a free quote.
Throughout this article I've mentioned a free quiz we've developed to help you quickly see if you're a fit for a house-buying company. (If you're not, then I'll give you other options to explore.)
But if a quick-sale company seems like a good fit, I can introduce you to the genuine market-leading company I know and trust.
My personal contact there will call you and and you can discuss figures. It's totally free and there's no obligation. If you've read this far then it's worth checking out: simply click below to get started, and I'll see you on your personalised quiz results page.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert