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If you need to sell your property quickly, you may be aware of a number of direct cash home buying organisations advertising their services across the UK.
The majority of these companies will tell you that they can buy your home far faster than a traditional estate agent could sell it, with many even claiming to be able to complete in as few as seven days.
These companies are also known as “we buy any house” organisations or fast sale companies. But are they legitimate? If so, how can you decide whether they are the right fit for your particular circumstances?
Here, we will explore these questions and explain how to utilise reviews to do your own “background check” on any company of this kind that may cross your path.
One of the best ways in which you can determine the integrity of companies of this kind – and come to understand the quality of their services more thoroughly – is to explore the reviews they have received from previous clients, or to read write-ups by other industry professionals.
Of course, many organisations of this kind will proudly display positive reviews of their services on their website – usually on the homepage or in the About Us section, though others will have a separate “Testimonials” or “What Our Clients Say” page.
It is important to take this content with a pinch of salt, as, in designing their sites to display customer feedback, most companies include widgets that are programmed to only show positive write-ups from their selected review platform.
This means that, if you read the cash house buying company reviews on the company site alone, you will only be seeing one side of the story.
Some reviews for house buying companies may be presented in the form of video testimonials. Naturally, this provides strong evidence that the company is legitimate, as very few people would be willing to put their name and face to an untrue account.
What is more, it takes greater effort to record footage of oneself and send it to a company than it is to write a simple review on a feedback platform!
In many cases, it is likely that video reviewers may be rewarded in some way for doing this – possibly by being entered into a prize draw or similar – but it is still highly unlikely that unhappy former clients would be willing to do this.
As a result, not many companies opt for video testimonials, as it is naturally difficult for any business to collect a worthwhile number. However, some understand the significant value of this form of feedback and make an additional effort to include it on their site or social media
You may also find online reviews of we buy any house buying companies that have been written by industry professionals.
These tend to come from a place of industrial experience. They may also be more comprehensive in their coverage of an organisation’s services – exploring their offerings in full and taking stock of all pros and cons.
However, it is important to note that there is usually an ulterior motive at play. Often, when you seek out the source of a review, you will find that it has been produced by a direct competitor.
Of course, this does not mean that anything about the write-up is dishonest, exaggerated or fabricated. However it is certainly worth checking a range of these reviews, and looking at feedback left by the general public to serve as a comparison, before choosing your provider.
There are plenty of websites that allow current and previous clients to leave reviews and star ratings for an organisation whose services they have used in the past.
Many cash house buying companies within the property industry have profiles on Trustpilot, Reviews.io and Feefo, as well as Google Reviews – a link to which may be displayed on the SERP after you search for the cash house buying company or estate agent in question.
There are even industry-specific sites, such as allAgents, on which a large number of estate agencies, “we buy any house” companies and other property specialists are listed and reviewed.
So – is this kind of feedback trustworthy? That depends. Below, we analyse public review sites and discuss whether or not they are a reliable source of information about “we buy any house” organisations.
It is possible for virtually anyone to make an account on a site such as Trustpilot, Feefo and allAgents and to leave a review for any company with a profile. Of course, the administrators of review sites stress that only “real”customers may leave feedback, but this is difficult to enforce.
This leaves the door open for fake feedback – whether positive or negative.
It is absolutely possible to report or “flag” a fake review, or one that breaches a site’s guidelines, to its administrators, although the platforms do have a number of criteria that must be met for a review to be considered “in breach” of a company’s guidelines.
For example, Trustpilot specifies that reviews on its site may be flagged in removed if they:
Google will also remove reviews if they contain offensive language, but they also have a number of other criteria – including that the review must describe a “genuine customer experience”.
To that end, if a review is vague and there is no way of identifying the individual who left it, it may be possible for the organisation to appeal to Google to have the write-up removed.
Google also specifies that reviews should not:
Naturally, it is much more likely for a house buying companies or estate agent to report that a review has broken the site’s policies if that write-up is a bad one, so reviews and star ratings are often slightly skewed to show the organisation in a positive light.
Businesses can respond to reviewers on sites of this kind, and many do. Often, the individual responding to the reviewer may appeal to them to remove the write-up.
They may do this by assuring them that their negative experience was not due to any mismanagement by the organisation they have criticised, or by working to resolve the issue that led to the negative review, or offering some kind of compensatory action.
It is very common for a representative to comment below negative reviews to encourage the writer to contact them privately so that they may investigate the matter further.
Once this invitation has been made, any further interaction tends to take place “out of the public eye”, so it is often impossible to know exactly what led a particular individual to delete their review of a company.
The majority of times, this will have occurred as the result of the company taking steps to rectify the issue at the heart of the complaint – and of the reviewer responding positively to this.
While there will always be rumours about review sites allowing companies to edit or remove certain pieces of feedback for a fee, most of the platforms mentioned above have spoken out publicly to assure users of their integrity.
Finally, it is important to note that users of a service are highly unlikely to leave feedback if their experience has been an average or middling one.
On most review sites, a company will most commonly receive either one or five stars – and examples of two, three and four star reviews are the least common.
This means that review platforms do not always give the fairest and most balanced impression of the customer experience.
It is easiest to determine the quality of a “we buy any home” company’s services if they have a large number of reviews. This offers a larger “sample size” – so, if their overall score is still high, it’s likely that they are legitimate and will do excellent work for you.
For example, if an organisation has 70 reviews, 65 of which give 5-stars and 5 of which give 1-star, those five bad reviews represent a little over 7% of the feedback received.
However, should an organisation have 700 reviews, 695 of which give 5-stars and 5 of which give 1-star, the five bad reviews now represent just over 0.7% of all feedback on the site.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that this large number of good reviews for genuine cash buyers will have been fabricated or manipulated in any way, making them more trustworthy.
Naturally, some of the most valuable reviews of a genuine cash buying company or an estate agent come via friends and family – whether in person or on social media.
So, if you’re keen to develop a better understanding of which organisation will serve you best as you prepare to sell your property, do not hesitate to ask around and seek out some opinions.
It’s often difficult to glean specific information from an organisation’s website, as many are designed to be stripped back and straightforward for the purposes of improved navigation, accessibility and general attractiveness.
If a site appears overcomplicated and information-heavy, it can be overwhelming to the user. The simpler a process looks, the more appealing it is likely to be to potential clients.
This is why it is often best to turn to feedback provided by real customers in order to get the full, unsanitized picture. This way, you can learn a great deal about what to expect.
You should take care to keep an eye out for reviews that mention certain aspects of the process provided by “we buy any home” firms. Below, we’ll examine just a few of these.
Some organisations provide a “ballpark” estimate of the offer you are likely to receive when you opt for their services. This usually comes in the form of a free cash offer showing the percentage of the total value of your property: i.e. “X Company will pay you up to 85% of the market value of your home”. You may even see what fees and legal fees you will be expected to pay.
Most are transparent when it comes to the fact that they will not be able to offer the full market value. This is due to the way in which they turn a profit. However, there is a natural tendency to overestimate the standard offer in order to attract clients.
It is, therefore, worth examining reviews of each house company to try and find out the size of the offer received in each case. As only a very few write-ups will go into detail of this kind, the approach is not necessarily watertight, but it may give you a more realistic reflection of what to expect.
Again, as cash buying companies as opposed to high street estate agents tend to target sellers prioritising speed, there is often a tendency to underestimate how long the process is likely to take.
Of course, the phrase “we’ll buy your house in as few as seven days” might be technically true – as the organisation may have completed the process within this timescale a few times before – but it may not be reflective of the typical experience when using their services.
To this end, it is definitely worth reading reviews and testimonials to see if any mention the speed with which the company in question was able to complete in their specific case.
Customer service is among the most popular subjects covered in online reviews.
Even if you are unable to find out much about the likely size of your potential offer or the typical speed of a company’s property buying process, you are bound to learn something about their treatment of clients.
It is definitely worth exploring reviews in order to learn more about the following factors:
You may be able to find a simplified breakdown of the property buying process on an organisation’s website. This tends to follow a similar basic pattern each time, which is:
However, in “real life”, each step tends to be a little more complex than advertised.
Online reviews can be very handy in highlighting the common sticking points and potential pitfalls along the way, so that you can be prepared for any eventuality.
Of course, every property transaction is different, and each comes with its own challenges. To that end, it is hard to prepare for every possible issue. However, it is certainly worth doing your research and educating yourself about the most likely “bumps in the road” before you begin.
One of the most significant reservations expressed by potential clients of “we buy any house” companies involves the concept of hidden charges and last-minute changes. This is not without reason.
The fast home buying industry has undergone a major transformation over the last decade. In the past, a number of unscrupulous firms dominated the sector and, due to a lack of regulation, companies of this kind developed a reputation for underhanded practices.
“Gazundering”, for example, was a real blight. This approach involves the company waiting until the vendor has made all necessary arrangements to sell their property and to move out, then significantly lowering their offer.
At this point, the customer feels that they are “trapped”, and is forced to accept the reduced sum.
Other organisations would spring hidden costs on their clients for valuations, administration and other processes – or would “trick” the vendor into entering a contract and levy a hefty penalty should they ask to be released.
These practices led to the industry developing a very real level of notoriety. This naturally had a negative impact on the success of “honest” businesses as well as the organisations responsible for how the sector had come to be seen.
As a result, most of the more diligent organisations in the field have since elected voluntarily to be regulated by a number of official bodies. This has enabled them to maintain a sense of integrity and to rebuild client trust.
While the “we buy any house” sector remains unregulated in an official capacity, bodies such as the NAPB (National Association of Property Buyers) have since been developed to protect the interests of vendors and buyers alike, and to prevent dubious practices.
It is a very good idea to check the website of each fast home buying company you are considering to find out whether they have chosen to be regulated by any of the following:
It is also possible to check the registers of these bodies for the name of any company.
However, another great way to find out more about the integrity of each organisation is – as previously mentioned – to explore their online reviews and find out whether any previous clients have been faced with unexpected expenses or unpleasant surprises.
If you are considering using the services of a “we buy any house” organisation, seeking out and studying their online reviews is a great way to determine whether this approach – and this particular service provider – is a good fit for your requirements.
All public feedback should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is rare that any review is entirely “impartial”. Sometimes, things just don’t work out – and, at these times, it’s human nature to seek out someone to blame.
After all, no one wants to find out that their property is worth less than they thought, and many vendors will approach a company of this kind without realising that it is their common practice to offer below market value.
Conversely, if everything works out in the end, it can be easy to overlook the bumps in the road that one has experienced along the way.
What’s more, for a range of reasons mentioned above, an organisation’s public reviews may be skewed to show that company in a more positive light, while the write-ups displayed on their own site will have been cherry-picked to represent them as attractively as possible.
If you are able to sift through online feedback with an open mind, however, you may find reviews to be a source of exceptionally valuable information that will help you to choose the right service provider for your needs.
Don’t forget – if there is anything you are unsure about, it is always possible to get in touch with each organisation directly in order to seek clarification.
In addition, many of these companies offer “no-obligation” offers, consultations and valuations, so there is nothing stopping you from approaching multiple firms and comparing what you find.
If you are looking for further information about the fast home buying process, or if you are interested in receiving a no-obligation cash offer for your property, you can get in touch with one of our specialists today.
We will provide you with a free valuation – and, if you are happy to accept our offer, we can buy your home in as few as seven days.