The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team issued warnings about ‘Quick Sale Agents’ on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Moneybox’ on Saturday 25 January 2020.
The piece follows a number of recent examples where homeowners looking to sell their home quickly have lost tens of thousands of pounds by using Quick Sale Agents. While most of these agents operate responsible businesses and offer a genuine service, some have been accused of defrauding vulnerable sellers of up to a third of the value of their home.
Why some homeowners need a quick sale
People often find themselves in a position where they need to sell their house quickly and can’t afford to wait months for a good offer. Recent examples have included people who are:
- going through a divorce
- being made redundant
- in a chain and at risk of missing out on a house they are about to purchase
- in need of funds to pay off debts.
In these cases, people selling their home sometimes consider dropping the price of their property to secure a speedy sale. Many honest agents have a list of prospective buyers who are looking for quick sales, are ready to proceed and can guarantee the sale will go through quickly.
Dishonest quick sale agents
There are a number of agents who are willing to break the law and deliberately mislead sellers. In some cases, agents offer to buy the property for a price substantially lower than market value and promise to pay the necessary funds much sooner than usual. Often the offer is made verbally and once the seller reads the paperwork, they find that the deal isn’t as promised or agreed.
Some sellers have been forced out of their homes immediately before finding that the house hasn’t been sold at all, but has instead been placed on the market at market value for a regular sale. In other cases, sellers have received a reduced price for their home, but don’t get this money as quickly as promised.
Other sellers have found that they received even less than the agreed price for the house after hidden fees are paid. Some have been made to sign a Power of Attorney, giving the agent the right to spend money on a property by using the funds the seller received from the sale of their home.
National Trading Standards is warning anyone considering using a Quick Sale Agent to get an independent solicitor to look at any paperwork and to explain the implications of any agreement. We advise people to be vigilant – do not allow the agent/buyer to force you into a quick decision. We urge anyone in a similar situation to obtain advice through the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.
The BBC Radio 4 Moneybox piece is available via the BBC website or the BBC Sounds app. The BBC News Online story is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-your-money-51234455