If you’ve been driving around in Houston, chances are you’ve seen billboards and signs advertising companies that buy houses. Often times they say things like “We Buy Houston Houses!” or “We Buy Houses in Any Condition!”
If you are thinking about selling a house in Houston, one of these signs may have caught your eye. But if you’re like most people, you are probably skeptical of a company that supposedly buys houses, and uses an ugly sign with the words “Joe buys houses in Houston” written in black marker as their advertising medium.
You are right to be skeptical.
The fact is, there are many reputable house buying companies in Houston. But, if you are thinking about using one, you need to know what to look for…and what to avoid.
Read on to find out how to ensure you’re working with a reputable house buyer in the Houston area.
[Related article: Dump That House! The Ultimate Guide to Sell Your House Fast in Houston]
What Reputable Houston House Buyers Are Doing
Before we get to the negative stuff, let’s talk about what the reputable home buyers in Houston are doing.
- Helping folks improve their lives by accessing the money they need, right away. People often need the cash in their house to cover unexpected medical expenses, or to relocate to be close to a relative. We can make that happen in just a few days, and we deliver peace of mind.
- Helping sellers get rid of burdensome properties quickly without the hassle of having to list it with a broker and wait months for a sale.
- Creating local jobs. We hire plumbers, electricians, brokers, title reps, loan officers, administrators and many other folks along the way. The average real estate transaction involves 86 people from start to finish. Our investments help create real jobs for people around Houston.
- Buying US products. We spend tons of money on materials that are made right here in the USA. That creates jobs in our timber mills, factories, supply shops, distribution centers and more. The US economy depends on steady improvement, and that requires investment from folks like us.
- Increasing the value of Houston neighborhoods. When we improve a house, we’re helping to increase the value of the entire community. We often repair abandoned and neglected houses, turning them into beautiful homes for families. That activity strengthens Houston.
- Increasing the tax base. When a new buyer takes over one of our properties, they’ll pay a higher tax rate based on the new and improved value. Those taxes go to pay for our schools, fire, police, libraries, streets and other valuable pieces of infrastructure. Again, improving our neighborhoods.
Pretty cool stuff, right?
Lots of people think of house-flipping as a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s fueled by silly “reality” shows that amp up the drama because the reality of what we do on a daily basis is actually pretty boring.
Most of our work is coordinating with lots of people to make sure things are happening on time. We have to keep track of lots of moving parts.
So, how you can use this information to find a credible real estate investor to purchase your house?
Use Medium-Sized, Local Houston Home Buyers
In our experience, it’s best to avoid very large or very small house buying companies. Medium-sized, local house buyers are really in the sweet spot for sellers. Here’s why:
Large, nationwide home buyers tend to find a local investor to actually buy your house and are just acting as middle men and taking part of the proceeds of the sale. Their “middle-man” business model and high overhead means a lower offer for the seller.
Small, low-budget home buyers usually operate in a similar way. They don’t have the capital to buy houses with their own money. Instead, they find sellers by littering street corners with ugly signs (which are illegal in Houston, by the way) and then connect them with real estate investors and take a commission. In some ways, the small companies are even worse than the larger ones because many times they don’t have the means to deliver on their promises.
Instead of using one of the large or small “middle-man” type companies, go directly to a local Houston company (like Brighter Side Home Buyers) that will buy your house.
How to Avoid Shady ‘We Buy Houses in Houston’ Companies
In our experience, most home buyers in Houston are honest and trustworthy. Unfortunately – as with many other things in life – there is a small minority of unethical individuals out there that give the entire industry a bad name. To avoid a bad experience, look out for these tactics that shady operators tend to use.
- “Kitchen table closings” – If a property buyer tries to get you to sign the deed (ownership) of your house over to them at your house, rather than a title company, be leery. Let me rephrase that so it’s more clear: NEVER do business with a home buyer unless they are going to use a reputable title company to perform the actual closing of the transaction. A title company is a neutral third-party, experienced in real estate transactions, and they will ensure everything is done correctly and on the up and up.
- High-pressure sales tactics – If a house buyer tries to pressure you into selling your house and says that you have to make the decision today, you should politely decline and show them the door. Selling a house is a big decision that you don’t want to rush. That is something that all home buyers understand. For this reason, most reputable house buying services will make you and offer and that offer will be on the table for at least 7 days for you to make a decision. The reason reputable house buying companies like Brighter Side Home Buyers place deadlines on offers is because the market changes and values can change week to week, depending on other sales in the area. Also, we buy multiple houses a month and when we make you an offer we’re assuring you that the cash to purchase your house is ready and we’ll reserve that cash for several days so if you do want to sell your house, we can close on your schedule. If you feel the offer isn’t a fit for you, then we’ll assign those funds to help another seller with their home sale.
- Non-standard contracts – We use a standard, Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) residential resale contract. Some home buyers, however, use a custom contract that they wrote themselves. If a home buyer uses a non-standard contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a shady company. However, you should question their motive for not using a standard TREC contract. The fact is, many of these custom contracts are not enforceable and they are written to benefit the buyer. My advice is to stay away from a company that doesn’t use a standard TREC contract.
True investors who run honest and ethical Houston house buying services, however, are building long-term businesses based on relationships and community development.
So, when you’re looking at one of the “we buy houses in Houston companies“… never be afraid to ask questions! Most scammers are looking for a quick score, and not an in-depth interview. Chances are good that they’ll find excuses to get off the phone and move on to someone who doesn’t ask too many questions.
When you talk with a local house buyer to potentially buy your house, ask them some of the questions below to ensure they’re reputable, knowledgeable, and honest.
Ask open-ended questions like:
- How do you help your clients?
- What do you do for people?
- Can you tell me more about your services?
- What are you going to do with my house after you purchase it from me?
- How would you describe your investment philosophy?
- How can I know that you’ll close on my house when you say you will?
My final piece of advice is to simply trust your instincts. For every seller that has been taken advantage of, there are many red flags that they ignored. It’s up to you to pay attention to them. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, then stop immediately and don’t continue until you are satisfied. Ultimately, you as the seller have the power. Don’t let your need to sell your house quickly force you into making a decision you might regret.