The idea of using a cash house buying company may seem a little scary at first. However, with some research, it’s quite easy to see who the genuine operators are.
With over 20 years of real industry experience, in this article, the We Buy Any House team at Property Solvers starts by listing the leading firms in the space.
Scroll further down for some background into how “cash house buying” works, what to do if you want to sell without taking a hit on price, how to figure out who the best company is for yourself and much more…
The Best Cash House Buying Company Is…
Taking into account reputation, experience and house seller feedback, below we highlight the foremost cash property buying companies in the UK (updated for 2024):
What Do House Buying Companies Do?
Most house buying companies’ core business is to work directly with owners that need to sell fast.
Adopting what the industry calls a “direct to vendor” approach, such firms have existed for a few decades now. Many emerged in response to the frustration with estate agents that both house buyers and sellers commonly experience.
Crucially, they use cash funds to purchase properties in any condition and in any situation.
As it’s a one-to-one sale, there will also be no estate agency fees to pay. Most property buying companies will also cover all legal (conveyancing) fees – potentially saving you £1,000s.
Indeed, it remains a fact that transactions on the open market can take many months. With 1 in 3 property transactions falling through across the UK, quick sale companies can commit in a way that most conventional buyers are simply unable (and unwilling) to.
Removing most of the countless stresses and strains of an open market (estate agency) sale, companies that buy houses directly continue to grow in popularity and are here to stay.
What’s the Catch When Selling to a House Buying Company?
The main downside of using a company in our industry is the price you will get for your property.
Depending on market conditions and the cash buying company’s own criteria, the prices paid generally lie between 85% and 75% of the property’s market value. This is typically guided by HM Land Registry and valuation standards set by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Of course, it’s natural to immediately reject such a proposition. It’s often the most expensive item we will ever own in our lives and taking such a large hit is something that can be difficult to accept.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that, once you count all the extra costs and time it takes to get things done through an estate agent, the difference is not as high.
Below is a table that shows the total price difference when using a property buying company versus selling through an online or traditional estate agent:
Another key problem with the open house sale market is that it’s not liquid.
Most people find it challenging to list a property for sale, find a buyer that will guarantee to complete and get the proceeds of sale within a short timeframe.
Indeed, research by Which? showed that selling a house is the second most stressful life experience…
What Are Your Options if You Want a Quick House Sale But Don’t Want to Take a Hit on Price?
Below are some options worth exploring to be able to sell your house quickly whilst achieving the most amount of money…
Use an Auction House
Using a reputable auctioneer to sell your house is a well-trodden path. It’s very possible to get a sale complete in 2 to 3 months without accepting too much of a discount.
Whilst it’s common to find problem properties at auction, more sellers are using this channel as a means to get a level of security that’s practically impossible through an estate agent.
This growth in interest has been fuelled by “modern method” auctions where the exchange completion timelines are extended to attract a wider pool of bidders (and therefore better prices).
Reduce Your Asking Price
All too often, we see estate agents providing false advice to their clients on what the true market value of their property is. In most cases, this is done to win your business.
If your house or flat has been on the market for a while and enquiries have dried up, all it often takes are one or two incremental drops in price to attract more buyers.
In terms of how much you should decrease, we generally recommend using HM Land Registry sold house price data of properties of similar size, type and condition.
Swapping Your Estate Agent
If you feel that the level of service you’re getting is inadequate, it may be worth seeking out a new estate agent to work with.
Before going ahead, however, it’s worth speaking to the manager to see if there are any suggestions. For example, are they attending to every interested buyer that comes through?
You can also ask for records of enquiries that come via Rightmove Plus and ZooplaPro (the property portal back-end systems that estate agents have access to).
Other times, it may be a case of asking the manager to take more control or assign your property sale to a more senior / experienced sales negotiator.
Take Out a Bridging Loan
Also known as “flash” finance, the idea is to borrow finance over the short term in order to fill the gap.
As an alternative to using a cash buying company, these loans are often used by sellers dealing with broken chains. Decent bridging loan companies can organise finance in 2 to 3 weeks.
Be weary of the high interest costs (often 3 to 4 times higher than a standard residential mortgage). There are also arrangement /exit , survey and extra legal fees to consider. Most bridging lenders also have a minimum term of 3 months.
Selling Because of Debt? There May Be Other Routes (as Opposed to Selling)
If you feel you need to sell below market value in order to clear debts, it’s worth running through the following:
- Look for another way to clear your debts such as borrowing from friends or family;
- Check how close to the end of your mortgage term you are. Then speak with a good broker and your current lender to see what better products may be available;
- Swapping your mortgage from repayment to interest-only can save you money in monthly payments. Remember that your overall level of debt will not decrease here;
- It may be possible to extend your mortgage term to spread the payments out over time;
- Taking out a personal or secured loan (always make sure you have definitive means to pay it back);
- Take on a lodger that can help with your mortgage payments and other financial commitments;
- If you are facing repossession, speak to your lender regularly and seek out appropriate advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice, the National Debt Helpline, Shelter and Debt Advice. Our guide on how to stop repossession contains more potential solutions if you’re going through this situation.
Sell and Rent Back
Whilst remaining a highly regulated sector, there are 1 or 2 house buying companies that can buy your property and then rent it back for a minimum of 5 years.
Be sure to check that the operation is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Remortgage and Rent Out Your Property
Provided you have sufficient equity, you could potentially think about keeping the property.
Renting it back will provide you with an extra income stream and the benefit of future price growth. Remember, however, being a landlord these days is not easy and the costs can often outweigh the benefits.
Is There Really Such a Thing as a “Best” House Buying Company?
From the outset, our objective is not to bash other property buying companies.
Indeed, there are certainly some legitimate and well-established firms that offer good levels of service.
Often, it comes down to how much you like the people you’re dealing with at the quick sale company. We all have a “sixth sense” of who we can trust.
At Property Solvers, we take price in placing no pressure on our clients to sell to our cash house buying company. Our team of consultants will always discuss all available options. As mentioned above, we also run fully-regulated auction and express sale estate agency services.
How to Check Cash House Buying Companies
It remains a fact that not all cash buying companies are created equal.
You may across firms that boast about their ability to buy houses but, in reality, are not sufficiently capitalised.
These days, it’s never been easier to create a flashy website, a legal company structure and run a quick home buyer operation.
Below are some of the checks we would recommend:
Companies House Checks
Head to the Companies House website where you can review the most recent account submissions made by the quick house sale company.
Remember that many firms in the industry have similar names. The organisations that are not so good will often tend to imitate the ones that are.
Google Search the Quick Sale Company
Check who the Directors are and Google their names to ensure they have a good reputation.
If nothing appears, you can also check their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media profiles.
Check Credit Report
If the buyer is an individual, you can request a personal credit report (from a reputable agency such as Experian or Check My File). You can also obtain more specific information about the Directors using these services.
The Cash House Buyer Will Not Use an Option Agreement
We generally do not recommend signing option or lock-in agreements, even if it forms part of the cash house buying company’s internal policy.
Some may propose an exchange with delayed completion with a better price should you agree to proceed. This may work if the property requires an extensive amount of work or there are unresolved planning-related issues.
However, most sellers we deal with prefer a straight cash and guaranteed sale.
Make Sure There Will Be No Chain
It’s important to make sure that you’re dealing with genuine cash house buyers that will not have to rely on other dependent sales in order to purchase yours.
No Hidden Charges
Reputable quick sale companies should not charge estate agency fees (as you’re selling directly to them). Similarly, you should not be expected to pay any legal fees, including administrative costs (known as disbursements).
The offer price should therefore be exactly what you receive when the sale completes.
Proof of Cash Buyer Funds
You may want to check that the quick house sale company has readily available cash funds.
This is typically demonstrated via a recent bank statement or a letter from a Law Society accredited solicitor.
An undrawn debt facility with a reputable banking institution or line of credit is also valid. However, even though the cash can be made available within days, you may wish to ask more questions about the specifics of any external funding sources.
Check the Reviews
It’s worth noting that fake reviews for home buying companies are rife.
Although sites like Trust Pilot have taken a number of steps to vet the quality of reviews, it remains quite easy to “game the system”.
The authentic property buyers will gladly put you in touch with previous clients (via phone or email).
Check The Firm Has a Legitimate Office Address
Although more companies may have a remote working policy, make sure that the company has an office.
This should not be a cheap “official” address that’s obtainable on the internet.
How Long Has the Cash Buyer Been In Operation?
Although longer is not always better, the well-known companies tend to have been been in active operation for some time.
You can ask the firm’s age from the representative that deals with your enquiry directly and then cross-check against Companies House.
If you Google Domain Age Checker, you can also see how long quick house sale companies websites have been in operation.
Check House Buying Company’s Social Media Presence
Most property buyer firms would have (as a bare minimum) Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
You can also check out the credentials of the directors on their LinkedIn company and personal pages.
Previous Track Record
It’s sometimes worth confirming that the quick house sale service has genuine experience of completing sales within the stated deadlines.
Usually, your appointed conveyancer will be able to confirm this (as they would have been instructed for previous sales).
Trade and Regulatory Body Membership
It’s worth checking the cash house buyers’ membership to established bodies and government institutions.
Although not compulsory, the better firms have no issues with being held to account to the regulations set out by a number of organisations. As a client (consumer) of the company, you have a place to turn to if you’re dissatisfied.
The Property Ombudsman (TPOS)
A government-approved trade body that attends to the home seller concerns. Members must adhere to a strict Code of Practice and any concerns will be heard fairly and impartially.
TPOS will also mediate any cases that cannot be resolved through initial contact with the quick sale company.
National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB)
This organisation was formed to represent the professional home buying industry and ensure that members commit to operating with the highest standards of transparency and fairness.
Trading Standards (Approved Code)
Being part of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCCS) – which essentially lays out the principles of effective customer service, protection and trust – is good practice for firms to follow in our space.
Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations
Signing up for these regulations means that any exchanged funds are legally protected.
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Membership of this organisation means that the company is obliged to keep your details 100% secure under the Data Protection Act (1998). The firm can only pass on your details to a third party with your full consent.
PropertyMark (National Association of Estate Agents)
Last on the list is an organisation that governs estate agency and property auction sectors.
Most quick house sale companies do not need to join the NAEA however Property Solvers decided to – particularly given our work as an agency for quick sales.
How Do I Know if Working with a Property Buying Company is the Right Thing To Do?
People approaching cash house buying companies are often doing so for the first time.
In truth, many already know what to do but simply need a helping hand in the right direction. Most decent firms will gladly help.
Should you be seriously considering selling in this way, it’s worth asking the following questions:
- Are they jumping straight into how they can buy your house or looking to close you off with an option agreement that could leave you stuck?
- Are they courteous and not patronising?
- Does the representative run through the possible options with you?
- Will the firm guarantee completion within 7 to 28 days?
- How will the firm value your property?
- How much under market value does the company buy property for?
- Is the company a genuine cash buyer (i.e. not using third-party finance)?
- Is the company registered with the trade bodies mentioned above?
- Are you dealing with a reputable firm with a good volume of 5-star reviews?
- How will they ensure that will not be dropped at the last minute?
- Will the firm cover your legal and other house sale costs?
Watch Out: Unrealistically High Offers for your Home
A common scam is for a quick house sale company to make an offer that seems reasonable at face value. They use this tactic to raise your expectations and get a commitment.
You then prepare to move but then suddenly hear that the firm can only move forward with exchange and completion if you drop the price. In the industry, this is called “gazundering“.
You could naturally walk away – however, vendors often accept as they have financial pressures or simply want get rid of the property.
This is a serious breach of consumer rights law.
If this situation occurs, you can immediately contact the Property Ombudsman or TPOS and/or the National Association of Property Buyers.
They deal directly with house buying companies and will seek to resolve via mediation or, in serious cases, strike off the company.
Note that there are exceptions. If, for example, physical or tough legal issues, then the buyer has the right to ‘pull out’ or approach you to discuss a renegotiated price. This follows the adage of ‘buyer beware’ (caveat emptor).
Any new offer price will take into account the extra costs of handling the problem. Always remember, however, that you have the last decision.
‘Guaranteed Price’ Quick House Sale Companies
A new breed of quick-sale company has emerged promising between 93 and 97% of the property’s market value after 90 days.
If you need to access the cash sooner, they can provide short term finance (subject to approval). After 90 days, you will receive the pre-set value minus a fee of around 2-3%. This happens even if they fail to sell the property.
They will continue to sell the property on the open market. You will then receive anything above the guaranteed price when it does sell (plus an increased fee).
This is an interesting alternative to cash buying companies, especially if you have secured another property or have chain-related issues.
Remember that customer reviews are mixed and not all houses fit into the company’s criteria. It’s also worth asking an independent solicitor to review any contracts before signing.