Office of Fair Trading launches inquiry into quick house sales

Ben Southwood
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THE OFFICE of Fair Trading (OFT) yesterday launched an inquiry into the quick home sale market, on worries that homeowners could be receiving “much less for their property than it is worth”.

Although the regulator said there was value in quick home sales that helped homeowners get rapid access to funds, it is concerned houses could end up selling for well below their value due to dubious business practices.

“The OFT is particularly concerned about the risks to people in financial difficulty – including those who have worked up large amounts of debt or are facing repossession,” it said.

It highlighted examples like firms falsely claiming to be a cash buyer, reducing the offer at the last minute, and inducing consumers to accept exclusivity agreements with high penalties.

It also said it was worried about unclear fee structures which saw firms impose unexpected fees and make misleading claims about property values and subsequently offer discounts.

The agency called on consumers who had used the quick house sale services to share their experiences, and asked 50 firms offering the services to provide information on their practices and business models. The Financial Conduct Authority said it would help with the inquiry.