Studies have shown that selling a house typically takes 4-8 months, but it can be much longer for some. This is why some homeowners opt for a quick sale to a house-buying company instead.
I've worked in and around the house-buying industry for nearly 10 years, speaking with thousands of home sellers and personally buying nearly 150 homes.
So what can I share about why someone would sell their house quickly?
People choose to sell their house quickly when time is more important to them than getting the best price. For example, they may be repairing a broken chain, relocating for work, or downsizing. A homeowner whose property has some serious issue (such as subsidence or structural issues) may choose a quick sale too.
It's a common misconception that homeowners use fast house sale companies because they’re desperate. In my experience, that usually isn’t the case. In this article I’ll debunk a few of the myths and share the 9 reasons people sell their house quickly to house buying companies.
First, let's quickly look at the benefits that house-buying companies offer.
If you want to cut right to the chase, you can take our free online quiz to find out whether a house buying company is right for you. Click the button below to get started:
Benefits of selling a house quickly
Selling your house directly to a genuine house-buying company is the fastest way to sell your house. You can save a lot of the headaches and delays that come with a more traditional house sale:
- First of all, you can get a formal offer within 24-48 hours...
- And complete your sale in as little as 2-3 weeks.
- The process is totally flexible and you'll be in control throughout.
You won't have to deal with estate agents either, there'll be no viewings, and some companies won't even tie you in with a contract. This leaves you in complete control.
How do house-buying companies work so quickly?
When traditional house sales can take a year or longer, it seems insane to think there's a solution that only takes a couple of weeks.
But there are some key changes genuine house-buying companies make that enable them to "short-circuit" the usual home-buying process, and get it all done very quickly.
- They're your buyer, so there's no waiting on an estate agent to find you one.
- They offer quickly, meaning you can have a price within 24-48 hours.
- They have their financing ready, so there's no waiting on mortgage lenders.
- They use the best solicitors, who are proactive and can save weeks.
- They have an experienced team, so they'll often take out insurance policies to help avoid many of the common problems that slow down traditional sale and cause issues.
Check out this 60-second quiz I designed to help you find out if a house-buying company is right for you.
If selling to a "buy my house" company seems a viable option, I'll put you in touch with the one company in the industry I trust to deliver on their promises.
If you're shopping around yourself, be careful to avoid these 5 unethical practices some we "buy any house" companies use.
So we know the benefits of using a house buying company, but why would someone choose to sell their house quickly?
Why would someone want to sell a house quickly?
Broadly speaking, people choose to sell their house quickly for one of two reasons:
- Personal Circumstances. They may have some set of circumstances that mean that time is more valuable to them than money.
- Property Issues. Their property may have some issue that means a traditional sale could take an extremely long time. They go for a quicker option instead.
But let's get more specific. Based on nearly 10 years in the "quick house sale" industry, here are the 9 main reasons people sell their house quickly.
1. Retirement or downsizing
In the first few years of our property buying business, retirees and downsizers accounted for 52% of our customers.
This isn't the usual preconception people have about why people sell quickly though. So what explains this huge number?
- Time and convenience. Time gets more valuable as we grow older, and our tolerance for stress goes down too. So spending months dealing with estate agents, solicitors and buyers becomes less and less appealing over time.
- Strong financial position. Many people at retirement age have owned their house for 25+ years as well. This means they've likely paid off all their mortgage, and have benefitted from a lot of house price growth.
So downsizers not only have the motivation to sell quickly, they also have the means to.
They often have a huge amount of equity (and profit) in the house, so selling at a discounted rate to get a fast sale is a viable and attractive option.
2. Repair a broken house chain
In a survey we carried out in 2022, we learned that 31% of all house sales fall through at least once before completion. (An unlucky 3% had their sales fall through 3 times or more).
If you're in a house chain, then losing your buyer can spell disaster. You can lose the property you're buying, and for many people this means your dream home slipping through your fingers.
There is another option though.
You can use a cash house-buying company to step in for your previous buyer. This way, you can repair your broken chain within a day or two, keeping everything on track.
Sometimes, sellers can even spread the discount throughout the chain. This means everyone takes a slightly lower price, rather than just one seller taking a significant hit by themselves.
Check out this case study I wrote for a real example:
3. Sell an Inherited Property
Having to navigate how to sell an inherited property whilst dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult. It can seem as if you need to become a tax expert, probate solicitor and conveyancer overnight.
This is why many people who've inherited a property from a loved one choose to sell it quickly. The main drivers may be emotional or financial, but the quick turn-around and hands-on support throughout can be really appealing.
Check out my full guide on how to sell an inherited property to learn more.
4. Relocating or emigrating
In 2019 alone, 540,000 British nationals emigrated from the UK. (That number dropped during the first year of COVID, but is expected to recover). Millions more relocate between different towns and cities within the UK each year.
If you're relocating or emigrating you're usually working to a strict deadline. Unfortunately, timing the sale of a property to tie in with your plans can be extremely difficult. (You've also got enough on your plate already!)
Selling quickly to a house buying company can help in both ways. It puts you in control of the timeframes, and gives you a lot less to worry about.
5. Divorce or separation
If someone's unfortunate enough to go through a divorce or separation, selling your house quickly can help you both move on with your lives much more quickly.
This is what makes selling your house quickly after a divorce so appealing. In practice though, it can be difficult.
Both partners need to be willing to accept the reduced offer, and it can be difficult to both get on the same page. This is why we've always had a lot of interest from people in this position, but relatively few successful transactions.
6. Unwanted investment property
Buy-to-let has become less attractive over the last few years. It started with a raft of tax changes in 2016, and continued with an increasing regulatory burden on landlords. (Many dub this the "war on landlords"). This has had a couple of consequences:
- More and more experienced landlords are selling up altogether. They often have large portfolios that could take years to sell. If they feel they've made their money already, then selling the portfolio at a discount in order for the simplicity and certainty can be a great idea.
- "Accidental landlords" decide to sell rather than hold onto the property.
Choosing a quick house sale can be a good way to move on without the headaches.
Simply put, some people are fortunate enough not to have to worry about money. For them, taking hours of attention and months of time to sell with an estate agent and get the highest price for their home simply isn't worth it for them.
They'd rather agree a deal today, and have the sale done a fortnight later. For example, we bought a £600,000 property from a gentleman last year simply because he didn't want to deal with estate agents for months. The deal was done in two weeks.
For those people who really desire convenience, regardless of the downsides, selling quickly can be a great option.
8. Financial Difficulties (including repossession)
In my experience, the biggest misconception about quick house sales is that the people who sell quickly are desperate, and are facing financial ruin.
However, only 4% of our customers sold their house quickly to avoid repossession.
So why the discrepancy?
In my opinion, if you're in financial difficulty then selling your house quickly is the worst thing you can do.
A fast sale almost always means accepting a reduced price. If you're already in financial difficulty, then selling your biggest financial asset for a discount is the last thing you want to be doing.
Whenever I've spoken with homeowners in a sticky financial spot, I've always tried to help them find other solutions.
Ideally, you want to sell your house for the best price possible. If you need more time to sell, you can often negotiate with your mortgage lender.
9. Problem Properties
Sometimes, it's not a seller's personal circumstances that lead them to selling their house quickly. Sometimes, they sell because of the property itself.
Here are a few examples:
- Structural issues
- Non-standard construction
- Property in disrepair
- Japanese Knotweed
- Flood damage
- Fire damage
- Fire safety issues (including cladding)
- Legal issues (such as a short lease)
Properties with issues or serious complications can be notoriously difficult to sell. These properties can linger on the market for so long that they end up seeming "tarnished" to local buyers, and so they eventually end up selling for a drastically reduced price.
It can be a better option to avoid estate agents altogether, and sell the property quickly instead.
Best way to sell a "problem property"
Personally, I wouldn't recommend selling a "problem property" to a house-buying company.
They'll consider what price the house would achieve in a worst-case scenario, and then make you an offer discounted from there. This means you'll take a "double-whammy" on the property.
Instead, consider selling by auction. Auction can be a great way to sell a problem property quickly, and for a reasonable price.
Check out these 3 articles I've written to learn more:
- The benefits of selling at auction
- How to find the best auction house for your home
- How to sell your house via auction
People sell their house quickly for a whole host of reasons. It always comes with a compromise on price though. So the people who choose to sell quickly usually value time and speed over getting the highest possible price for a property.
I've designed a short 60-second quiz to help you figure out whether or not a quick house sale is right for you. Click below to get started.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert