Struggling home owners who are trying to find a way to pay the bills this Christmas are being urged not to rush to sell their properties without checking out the buyer first.
Quick house sale firms operate by buying properties for cash. Some promise that customers can have the money in their bank account within seven days – and some deliver.
Unscrupulous companies, however, prey on the desperation or vulnerability of the sellers to try to force them into a cut-price sale, or change the terms of the deal when the home owners feel they have no option but to carry on.
The National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) was formed to professionalise the industry and help sellers find the best possible cash buyer.
Working with The Property Ombudsman – the national government-approved redress scheme for customers – it has drawn up a code of practice to protect sellers from unfair activities by rogue firms. All of the NAPB’s members have signed up to the code and agreed to abide by it.
The code is designed to prevent people being tricked into selling their homes for a fraction of their value, being hit with exorbitant fees or suddenly finding the amount they were being offered being cut when they have no option but to accept the offer.
The Office for National Statistics has revealed that in the last three months of 2014, 20,318 people had to declare themselves bankrupt while a further 52,190 people felt forced to sign up to individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) with their creditors because they couldn’t afford to pay off their debts.
Jonathan Rolande, from the NAPB, said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, especially if you have debt problems and are trying to come up with a way to buy presents for family and friends. Selling your home to pay off all your debts and leave you with a nice pile of cash on top can be very attractive to some as having a clean slate and an end to debts is very appealing. But if you decide to go into an arrangement with a property-buying firm, it’s vital that you do so with your eyes wide open and know exactly what you’re getting. At the NAPB we are determined to make sure sellers get the right information and don’t feel conned or pressured into signing away their homes for a ridiculously low price. Those who sign up to the national code of conduct vow to behave reputably and know their reputation is on the line if they act inappropriately.”
“If you are considering going for a quick house sale, visit our website first, and only use an NAPB-registered company. That way you can be sure you will get a fair deal and a fair price for your home.”
The NAPB website lists all the companies that have signed up the national code of practice – and includes a handy list of questions you should ask if you are considering using a property-buying firm.
To check visit www.napb.co.uk/members.