How do I sell my house fast?

The only way to 100% guarantee a sale (that puts money in your bank account quickly) is by selling to a genuine cash house buying company.

Which way is best for me?

As a former estate agent, this is a question I'm well used to being asked. The answer however, is something that is changing, with property sellers now having many more options available to them when compared to even just a few years ago.

Regardless of the route to sale, it's always sensible to ensure your property is as presentable as it can possibly be, taking into account your circumstances and of course the funds you have available to you. 

Some sellers may want to totally renovate their property, and then put in on the open market to achieve the very highest market value for their house and location. At the other end of the scale, you may have ended up with a run down property, perhaps that you've inherited, that you have neither the knowledge or inclination to spend the time and money necessary to achieve the highest price.

Improving your property

If you own a rundown property in a high demand area, it makes sense to spend the money to improve your chances of selling and probably make a nice return on your investment, both in terms of time and money. If that isn't the case and you need the property sold quickly, or maybe your local market isn't doing very well, any additional funds you plough into doing it up may be throwing good money after bad.

Your routes to market will probably be different for each scenario. If you've got a tip top, best in the street house, and you're in no rush, a good, local estate agent will almost certainly be your best bet. They have local knowledge and a list of keen buyers looking for houses in your area.

A quick sale

The drawback of this approach is no one can ever guarantee you how long it'll take to sell your house. Once you do have an offer, it can then take 10-16 weeks to complete. During this time there is also the chance the buyer will withdraw for some reason as a property sale in England and Wales isn't legally binding until exchange of contracts, at the very end of this lengthy and uncertain process. Around 35% of house sales fall through before exchange of contracts. This way of selling your property, whilst often slow and stressful, will usually get you the best price for your property, so if you don't mind the delays, you're generally fairly laid back and getting the absolute best price is your main priority, this is probably the best route for you.

The main opposing factors, therefore, are time versus money. On the other side of the coin, if you want the money from your sale sooner rather than later, be that for an onward sale, a probate disposal, raising money for another investment or to get out of debt, a sale to a cash buying company is a great option to explore.

What is a cash buying company?

First, a bit of background. The property cash buying industry (known as ibuyers, in the US) is a fast growing sector in the British property market. Over in the US the ibuyer market is expanding rapidly. IN 2018, nearly 10% of American house sales were purchased by ibuyers. In the UK, ibuyers are simply known as cash buying companies. Not quite as glam as in the US,(twas ever thus!) but it does what it says on the tin , which is far more British!

I'll explain a little about how these companies work, as well as a few of the pros and cons of selling to them.

How does it work?

Firstly, if speed is of the essence, there isn't a quicker way to sell your house. The cash buying companies, as the name suggests, have cash in the bank* ready to buy property. No mortgages or loans to arrange. This obviously saves a huge amount of time. Because of the volume of property they buy, they also have lawyers to do the legal side on retainers, who are very happy to have them as clients, so make sure their work is done fast. By fast, I mean FAST!! Some of these companies can complete in a few days (the fastest was just a few hours, but this is rare). More generally though, they will complete in around 28 days. 

The reason they can do this is that they will only pay around 75-85% of the market value of your home. The buyer can then ‘flip' the property and take their time selling it for full market value, or possibly renovate it or rent it out etc. The reason they can act so fast and with cash is because they will make a profit on your house, as they have the time and money to do it. That's the compromise. You sacrifice value for speed. It's very transparent and a pretty straight forward deal, really.

Compare this to the weeks and weeks on the market, followed by more weeks and weeks for the sale to go through when using a normal estate agent style sale; With a cash buyer, in just 28 days, you'll generally have the cash in the bank. Sales to cash buying companies rarely fall through once they make a formal offer as they're a business, not a person/people. They are therefore not subject to the normal issues that cause sales to fall through such as finances, life events or even just changing their minds.

How do I find a cash buying company?

Now, you may have noticed the * earlier in the piece when I said that cash buying companies have cash in the bank. The reason for this was that not all ‘cash' buying companies do. To be honest, the industry hasn't always had the best reputation, and there are sadly still a few cowboy operators out there who say they are cash buyers but what they actually are is middlemen who will say they can sell your house in 28 days, sign you into a lengthy sole selling rights contract (meaning they have exclusive rights to sell your house. You can't even sell privately without paying them!), and then try to find you a genuine cash buyer.

BEWARE of these companies! It's not very easy to tell who they are or seperate the good from the bad. Luckily for you, the property seller, OfferPal have done lots of research and vetting with our cash buying companies so we only EVER allow cash buying companies with their own cash, that we've seen proof of, to submit their offers to our sellers. We regularly audit our buyers so if any ever fall below the standards we set, we will no longer work with them.

What's the process if I want a cash sale?

Anyway, assuming we're only talking about the good guys, there are several ways these angel-like apparitions we'll call our cash buying companies, can buy your house quickly. In this article, I'm going to tell you about by far the most common route, which is as follows;

  1. You, the property seller, will visit and follow the process, telling us about your property, giving as much info as possible. It takes about 2 minutes. We will then send your property details, (but not your personal ones) out to our panel of cash buyers. We promise to get back to you within 24 hours but actually we will probably start getting offers for you within 2-3 hours. YES, 2 to 3 hours!!! Amazing eh? 
  2. I digress. You'll receive an email to tell you that you have an offer on your property. You can then visit your offer centre by clicking the link that'll show all of the buyers, and if you decide to accept one of these, you simply click ‘accept offer'. 
  3. The buyer will then be given your details and contact you to arrange a formal valuation, usually by a local estate agent or surveyor. This is normally within 2-3 days of you accepting the initial offer. Once this is done, they can confirm their offer, or amend it if the info provided to them originally was either incomplete or inaccurate. 
  4. Once this stage is complete and both parties are happy, the buyers will get the legalwork underway. They usually pay your legal bills too! They'll also have a survey carried out by a RICS surveyor to make sure the place isn't about the fall down! 
  5. Assuming the legal process or survey doesn't throw up anything unexpected, you'll normally exchange and complete and have the money in the bank within 28 days of that initial contact with OfferPal. Which is a world away from the process we've grown so used here in England and Wales over the years. It feels much more like the way it should be!

This is why we believe this is a part of the property industry that is set to boom in the coming years, especially with the impending economic situation.

It certainly won't be for everyone but if you need to sell your property fast, for whatever reason, it's a great option that sellers now have!

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