Agents hit out at quick sale websites
Thursday 9th August 2012
The National Association of Estate Agents has expressed alarm over what it says is a sharp rise in quick-sell property websites.
It says their growth has been driven by the recession, which is increasingly leaving desperate sellers vulnerable.
The NAEA voiced its concerns as it emerged that a consultation has been held, almost entirely without the industry’s knowledge and which is due to close tomorrow, which will allow a new breed of estate agents to enter the market. They could be supermarkets or online operators.
They would be allowed to operate outside the scope of the Estate Agents Act and, amongst other things, would not have to offer redress via an ombudsman scheme. The move has been proposed, with the industry kept in the dark, by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.
The NAEA did not mention this when airing its concerns about quick-sell property websites.
Mark Hayward, president of the NAEA, said: “Our members have noticed a significant increase in the number of companies purporting to offer cash purchases on properties in whatever condition within 24 hours.
“While this might sound like a great solution for people looking to sell their property in a hurry, we are finding that it is often families who are in desperate financial circumstances which are targeted through website advertising and a door-to-door sales approach.
“The tough economic conditions mean that in some cases sellers are pressurised into making quick decisions to sell their property.
“They sign the contract at an agreed price only to find that they are offered a vastly reduced rate just before the sale. In a highly pressurised situation it is understandable that many people accept these last-minute lower offers.”
A search yesterday on Google for quick-sale property websites in the UK yielded many results. Companies go by names such as Quickbuyers, Propertyrescue, and Webuyanyhome which welcomes visitors to its site with a song offering no hassle and no estate agents.
Some say they will make an offer immediately on the phone, others within an hour, others suggest a 24-hour or 48-hour service, and others suggest the whole deal could go through in a week or a month.
Some claim they offer 80% of the value of a property, others say they offer 100% in cash, and a number seem extremely keen to stress their ethics and display a logo for Property Buyers Code of Practice.
We were also intrigued to find one site, sellhousefast, which is a member of the Property Ombudsum (sic). We were equally intrigued to find at least one site offering a sale and rent-back service, despite the Financial Services Authority having effectively closed down the entire industry in February.
The Property Buyers Code of Practice website was mysteriously unavailable yesterday when EAT looked, but we found the code on another website. Whilst the code may not have been reproduced in its complete form, it made no reference to clients’ rights to cancel within a cooling off period.
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