CML welcomes OFT activity on quick house sale firms
Published: 13 August 2013 | Author: Bernard Clarke
We welcome the announcement by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that it is writing to around 120 "quick house sale" firms, advising them to ensure that their business practices comply with legal obligations.
"Quick sale" schemes offer customers who may feel they have an urgent need to sell their house a speeded-up transaction. But in return they may offer home-owners a sale at between 10% and 25% below the property’s market value.
We welcome the OFT’s proactive engagement with firms operating in this area. The consumer, especially in times of financial uncertainty or distress, must be confident that he or she is getting a fair and reasonable deal.
We urge any home-owner experiencing financial difficulties to talk to their lenders at the earliest opportunity. The OFT has found that seven in 10 complaints received about quick house sale firms came from vulnerable consumers. We want home-owners to know that there may be other options available, especially if lenders are alerted as soon as possible, so there can be discussions between the borrower and the lender about what can be done to address problems.
As part of an investigation into the sector, the OFT found that many firms dealt with customers in "an open and fair manner." But it also found practices that would give the industry a bad name, and have started a more detailed investigation of three quick house sale firms.
The OFT has also raised concerns about what are described as misleading claims about house value and firms offering possible completion times of a week, when it is more likely that a sale can only be completed in three to four weeks. The OFT is discussing the development of self-regulation with firms in the sector.
We support measures that would ensure all consumers are able to make an informed choice about their options. We believe the OFT must address concerns about quick sales and ensure home-owners are provided with absolute clarity about what they are signing up for.