With the property market showing a general slow-down in the winter months, many house owners are looking towards property buying companies in order to find a possible route to a quick sale. Whilst there are companies who operate to high ethical standards, how do you sort the good from the bad? Here are some pointers to help find the company who will do the best job for you.
First and foremost, anyone who is looking to sell a house quickly must bear in mind that it is likely to be one of the biggest financial transactions of their life, and will take time to do some research. No matter how desperately you need to make a quick sale on your house you should, at the very least, conduct an internet search on the company you are thinking of using. Remember, there are a number of ways a company might attempt to make money from you without even buying your property! Firstly, steer clear of 0870 (National rate) telephone numbers. These numbers are simply a way of generating cash for the company at your expense.
Secondly, always choose a company that is willing to make you an offer without cost or obligation. After all, you have every right to know from the start what percentage below market value you are likely to be offered. If a company is not being clear and open at this point, they have got something to hide - leave well alone.
Thirdly, you should never pay any fees up front. You should not expect to pay for surveys or any reasonable legal fees relating to the sale of your property; and on the subject of surveys, you should not rely on external valuations, or “drive-bys" as they are known in the industry, as the sole basis for valuing your property. These are guideline valuations only, which in the words of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (R. I. C. S. ) “. . . confirm the existence of the property and are used in conjunction with a desk analysis of local comparables. ” If you want an external valuation, you can arrange one for yourself for no more than £75 from an R. I. C. S. accredited firm.
Make sure you always opt for a company with national coverage. National coverage indicates a brand name and a reputation to protect, which in turn means higher levels of customer care. The very best of these national companies will have offices across the country and local managers familiar with your area and property market, and should be happy to give you advice whether or not you use their services. Unfortunately many property buyers are ‘one-man bands’, attempting to pass themselves off as national.
Another obvious test of a company’s ability and standards is the lengths to which they are prepared to go to, in order to come up with a solution which is right for you. There are more ways to a quick sale than simply selling at a discount. Furthermore the company’s representative should be happy to visit you before making a final offer, and you should always expect an offer regardless of the material condition or status of the property.
Put your mind at rest by asking for real testimonials. A good company will be happy to let you inspect the originals.
There are a few other things to watch out for, such as businesses that won't provide an office address on their website, literature or letters, or give you names and telephone numbers of local contacts. And finally never use a company featured on Watchdog or similar consumer programs – that’s where the internet search comes in handy!
Take on board these suggestions, and you will soon be on course to finding a quick and trouble free solution to your needs.
Martin McAllister is a freelance online journalist. He lives in Scotland.