In today’s hot real estate market, house flipping is big business.
In fact, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen ads from local investors plastered to telephone poles or in your mailbox. The phone numbers may be different, but the offers are essentially the same: “we’ll buy your house for cash.”
If you’re looking for a quick, convenient sale, the offers may seem appealing. But with so many homebuying companies to choose from, how can you tell which option might be best for your situation?
Here is a review of one well-known house flipping brand to help you better understand what you can expect from their service.
What is ‘We Buy Houses?’
We Buy Houses is a nationwide network of real estate investors that purchase properties for cash — typically regardless of their condition. The company was founded by entrepreneur Jeremy Brandt, who is the name behind two other home selling companies: Fast Home Offer and 1-800-CashOffer. Since the company was founded in 1997, they have worked with over 1 million homeowners across the United States, according to the company’s website.
Unlike its competitor “We Buy Ugly Houses,” We Buy Houses is not a franchise. Rather, each location is independently owned and operated by vetted real estate investors who purchase a license to use the company’s brand and marketing materials. As we’ll discuss more below, this means that the level of service could vary widely depending on where you’re located and the investor you’re working with.
How does ‘We Buy Houses’ work?
Sellers interested in getting a quote from a We Buy Houses investor can fill out the form on the company’s website. The form asks for basic information about the property including:
- Property type
- Number of bathrooms
- Number of bedrooms
- Your approximate asking price
- The reason you’re selling
- Whether the property is currently occupied
Once submitted, sellers can expect a call from the real estate investor who manages their area to get more information on your property and to schedule time for an inspection. This appointment gives the We Buy Houses investor an opportunity to view the property and evaluate its condition. This information is used to provide the seller with a no-obligation offer within 24-48 hours (on average).
If the offer is agreeable to the seller, the sales process can move forward. Depending on the seller’s timeline, the entire process could be wrapped up in 7-14 days.
Does ‘We Buy Houses’ serve your area?
According to their website, We Buy Houses serves homeowners in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Sellers can be connected with an investor in their area by filling out the form on the company website.
What is the cost?
When a We Buy Houses investor makes an offer on a property, it is inclusive of any repair costs they intend to make before they either resell your home or list it as a rental unit. There are no fees or closing costs associated with the process.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this is a business transaction and the investor buyer will need to make a profit on the property in order for the transaction to be successful. This means that you can expect a lower offer than what you’d typically get if you listed the house on the open market.
How does ‘We Buy Houses’ make money?
The We Buy Houses brand makes money exclusively off the licensing fees it charges to investors who operate a business using the company’s brand and marketing materials. To protect the integrity of the brand, investors must go through a thorough vetting process prior to being issued a license to do business under the We Buy Houses name. This includes an investigation into the investor’s record and reputation, as well as their years of professional experience.
Investors make money off the buying, selling, and management of the real estate properties they purchase. Properties are often “flipped” for a quick profit or rented out as part of a long-term investment strategy.
User reviews of ‘We Buy Houses’
One of the key things to keep in mind when evaluating reviews for We Buy Houses, is that each location is independently owned and operated. This means that the reviews you see in one location could be very different from the reviews in another.
That being said, Google reviews were generally very positive for the locations where reviews were posted, with 5.0-star reviews for both We Buy Houses Spokane and We Buy Houses Tacoma.
Positive reviews called out sellers’ overall satisfaction with the process, including the ease of working with the investor, the speed of the process, and how fair and honest they felt the investor was throughout the home sale.
For example, one Google reviewer said she needed to sell her mom’s house after her mother passed away. She didn’t want to deal with all the updating and repairs needed to sell the home. She wrote that We Buy Houses Spokane “came and offered a very fair offer and worked with me on my timeline. Everything was exactly as promised.”
Another Google reviewer shared a similar sentiment about We Buy Houses Tacoma. She explained that she needed to get her rental house sold and accepted the company’s cash offer. She said it was better than going the traditional route which can take months and involve Realtor® fees and commissions. “This was easy and I got my money quick,” she wrote.
Although the company maintains an A+ BBB rating, there were a few negative reviews (as well as a resolved complaint), which primarily had to do with consumer frustration with unsolicited phone calls and mailers, which some reviewers considered spam. In their response, We Buy Houses stated that they do not, “under any circumstances, send unsolicited text messages or make unsolicited phone calls to homeowners.”
They went on to say that there are “some shady companies/individuals who use ‘We Buy Houses’ as their name in an effort to trick people” and warned homeowners to never respond to an unsolicited text or telemarketer for any service if they’re looking to sell their home.
The company and its investors do respond to most of the online reviews — whether positive or negative.
The pros (and con) of using ‘We Buy Houses’
When deciding whether We Buy Houses is the right option for you, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this home selling route.
- Makes for a fast, easy process with most home sales being finalized in 7-10 days.
- Properties are sold in as-is condition without any updates needed. This can make We Buy Houses an appealing option for those with homes that are outdated or in disrepair.
- An available option for homeowners facing difficult circumstances such as foreclosure, a short sale, or bad tenants. According to their website, they’ll help homeowners in all these situations — even working with the bank to negotiate a short sale, when necessary.
- Investors are carefully vetted before they’re allowed to join the company to make sure they have a solid reputation and track record.
In terms of cons, the primary drawback to call out (which is generally true regardless of the house flipping company you work with), is that there is a cost to the convenience and you likely won’t get as high of an offer for your property as you would on the open market.
Perhaps a lower sale price is less of an issue if you inherited a home that you just want to unload quickly — or have a fixer-upper that needs a lot of TLC before it hits the market. As part of this process, however, you’ll want to carefully consider your motivations for selling and what you’re looking to achieve before accepting an offer.
Vet cash buyers and know your home’s worth
For many home sellers, We Buy Houses for Cash companies can be a solid solution to get a property sold quickly or to access cash for an expected life challenge. On the other hand, the “cash for your home” rehabbing business model has also led to what some housing advocates call predatory tactics.
The level of integrity and customer service you experience can vary, even within an established house-buying company that strives to maintain consistent business standards. This is because many We Buy Houses for Cash companies are franchises and often use independent investors or local wholesaling outfits. Your experience greatly depends on the character of the person or group making the offer.
If you are considering a cash offer, vet the company thoroughly. Check reviews, read testimonials, and research its presence and performance in the market. And, of course, read the buying agreement carefully before signing.
Before committing to a We Buy Houses for Cash company, HomeLight suggests you consult with a top agent to get a better idea of what your home might be worth if sold on the open market. Then compare cash offers to what a top agent might be able to get for your home. HomeLight can connect you with a top-performing agent in your market.
You can also use HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator right now to get an initial ballpark estimate in less than two minutes.
Alternatives to ‘We Buy Houses’
When it comes to companies that promise a “quick, cash offer” for your house, We Buy Houses is just one option to choose from. Here are just a few examples that include proven cash offer platforms, house flippers, and iBuyers:
Does ‘We Buy Houses’ provide additional services?
Although We Buy Houses is primarily interested in buying properties from motivated sellers, they do also work with other investors and wholesalers who are looking for properties to purchase. According to their website, the company purchases such a high volume of homes that they end up selling many of them off immediately.
How does HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform work?
While We Buy Houses is primarily an offline homebuying process, HomeLight takes the home selling process online with its easy-to-use Simple Sale platform.
Homeowners interested in getting a quick, cash quote will use the online platform to tell HomeLight about their property. We then provide cash purchase options to help homeowners get the best possible offer. If the homeowner accepts the offer, the process moves quickly with many homes closing in as few as 10 days.
Quick to sell doesn’t necessarily have to translate into quick to move, however. Unlike a traditional mortgage closing, HomeLight can often give sellers up to 30 days from closing to organize their belongings and complete their move to a new home.
Other services and tools offered by HomeLight
HomeLight provides a full suite of services* designed to make the real estate buying and selling processes as easy as possible:
- Agent Match: We’ll connect you with top real estate agents in your area who can help you sell your house fast and get the best selling price for your home.
- HomeLight Home Loans: Our pre-underwriting process provides for a smooth and fast mortgage approval, with many loans closing in under 21 days.
- HomeLight Trade-In: We’ll help you make a strong cash offer on your new home before your current home sells, making for a simpler and more profitable real estate process.
- HomeLight Cash Offer: Increase your odds of landing your dream home by making an all-cash offer through Homelight.
* Some services like Trade-In, Home Loans, and Cash Offer are not available in all states.
Additional HomeLight tools & resources
- Home Value Estimator
- Agent Commissions Calculator
- Home Affordability Calculator
- Net Proceeds Calculator
- Best Time to Sell Calculator
Know your options: Weigh the pros and cons of ‘We Buy Houses’
Working with a cash-offer company such as We Buy Houses or using HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform may be an attractive option for sellers who are looking for a fast, easy, and convenient transaction. Both companies can provide a timely, cash sale that will put money in your pocket quickly — typically regardless of the property’s condition.
That being said, when it comes to maximizing value, there’s no substitute for working with a top-performing real estate agent in your area and listing your property on the open market. Especially in today’s competitive market, where cash offers are becoming increasingly common, this process can net you a higher offer than a quick cash sale.
Even if you’re leaning toward a house flipping company or iBuyer for your home sale, consider speaking with an experienced real estate agent first to ensure you understand your home’s value and what it could be worth on the open market. Our free Agent Match service will help connect you with a top real estate agent in your area who can provide expert guidance to help you make the best decision for you and your future goals.
Header Image Source: (Trinity Nguyen / Unsplash)