Quick house sale firms under OFT scrutiny

18th April 2013

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The OFT is researching the ‘quick house sale’ market and is calling for people who have used, or considered using, these businesses to contact the OFT about their experiences.

Quick house sale providers offer to buy a house or find a third party buyer very quickly, usually at a discount from the full market value. While providers may offer a valuable service, the OFT is concerned that some practices might lead to homeowners receiving much less for their property than it is worth and that any losses could be very high.

The OFT says it 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. Consumers at risk may also include those who need to sell their property quickly following a relationship breakdown or the elderly, who might need money to pay for their care.

The OFT has listed the sort of practices that would give rise to concern below:

The OFT has asked over 50 quick house sale firms to provide information on their business models and practices and would welcome evidence from people with experience of this sector, including valuation experts, estate agents, debt advisors and home owners.

Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, says: “Businesses offering quick house sales may provide a useful service for homeowners who need to unlock cash in a hurry. However, they are often used by consumers in vulnerable situations and therefore we are concerned about the risk of consumers being misled and losing out on large sums of money.

‘We want to hear from anyone who has used a quick house sale provider, whether they have had a good or bad experience with the business. We will protect the confidence of anyone who contacts us and their information will be invaluable in helping us to build up a picture of the market and establish whether we need to take action.’

Christopher Woolard, Director of Policy, Risk and Research at the Financial Conduct Authority, says: “We welcome the OFT’s market study. Consumers facing repossession of their home are in a very vulnerable position and it is important that they are not pressured into making poor decisions. ‘This market study is an important piece of work that will explore current practices in the market and, where necessary, make recommendations to improve outcomes for these vulnerable consumers. We will continue to work with the OFT and others to address any concerns in this market.”

23 thoughts on “Quick house sale firms under OFT scrutiny”

  1. just a thought says:

    Hi Shaun,

    Two main themes on your blog today, the very sensitive energy situation of the UK and the blatantly biased propaganda organ of what had become the BBC: a mere tabloid.

    Think for yourself! Read everything, listen to everything, but believe nothing no matter where you read it or who said it, not even if I said it, until you’ve researched it yourself and it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense!- Gautama

    I am glad to the development of the Internet and the rise of alternative media where much relevant and accurate information can be found and to follow independent observers such as yourself as well as critical thinkers commenting on blogs such as yours.

    Japan plans to have a power plant in space in a decade…

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/japan-plans-to-have-a-power-plant-into-space-in-a-decade

    1. Anonymous says:

      Amazing, thanks for the link.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Hi Just a thought

      Thanks for the link, I did enjoy the reply from someone who had seen the idea in Futurama! Actually I think I recall Arthur C Clarke suggesting some of the ideas in play here.

      If there is a weak link it is the idea of the tether, It had better work as I suspect that none of us want to be in the focus of that microwave beam.

  2. Anonymous says:

    UCG – Bill Bryson writes about burning coal mines, when they play with coal underground – the engineers in charge are doing lots of guess work. They take risks and subsequent problems are a surprise.

    Coal extraction has proved a dangerous business for miners. It has also blighted many towns with subsidence or even wiped them off the map in open cast mining. Coal is very dirty and bad for the environment.

    It is a big and urgent question how we power our society going forward. Nuclear fusion is on a back burner – always another 40 years away. I’d recommend adding some urgency to this research.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi ExpatInBG

      I hope that engineers and physicist are researching thorium too.I have watched many of Professor Jim Al-Khallili’s documentaries on BBC 4 ( The Atom, The Elements etc..) and was quite struck bu his remark that he and colleagues studied thorium some 20/25 years ago then everybody seemed to forget it.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yes, another underfunded scientific project. Our useless politicians waste incredible sums on useless agricultural subsidies, worthless bank subsidies, counterproductive solar subsidies, CO2 emitting Strasburg trips etc.

        With resources and determination, human ingenuity is amazing. The Manhattan project delivered in under 5 years. JFK’s moon shot was realised within the decade. With leadership, energy is a solvable problem

  3. forbin says:

    Hello Shaun,

    we can all see that for oil world wide that the price has remained in the 100$ plus range through what is considered the worse economic recession since the 30’s

    Also ref: ” …The units used are “years left” i.e. how many years of internal oil
    consumption (at the current rate) could be provided for by existing
    reserves. ..”

    The words “at the current rate ” are the ones that mean NO GROWTH , and wel all know thats poppy cock !

    I read that the “Limits to Growth” was revised but even still the timeing for all the major issues was 2010 , hmm, I suggest we wait until 2015 , something is up and its probably the oil price 😉

    Just a thought has it correct – think for yourself and check the web

    Just today we see the HMG are renageing on Solar power , in itself it won’t solve the problems

    oh Shaun , can we afford to import all our oil ,coal and gas? Oil itself I think was predicted to cost 25billion by 2015………. yikes !

    No worries we’ll just QE it ….

    Forbin

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi Forbin

      You pointed out a while ago the way the oil price seemed tightly fixed to US $108 per barrel (Brent Crude) and as of Friday it was US $109.75.

  4. John says:

    Shaun

    Good post, and you hit on the obvious relevance for the Scottish referendum.

    There are two points here. The first is that the figures for our oil reserves are simply not credible – the UK consumes around 1.7 million barrels a day, say 600 million barrels a year, which implies that Anglia Ruskin think the North Sea has just over 3 billion barrels left. No-one in the industry pitches the figure that low, or even close, and the Anglia Ruskin report gives no evidence to back their figures up.

    Secondly, the BBC report is about the most shoddy journalism I have seen for a long time – sensationalist and totally unchallenging of some frankly very odd claims. Is there nobody at the BBC who notices that this is so much lower than their own figures – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26326117 .

    John

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi John

      Thank you and welcome to my part of the blogosphere.

      The bit that was the least credible was the claim about our coal reserves which contradicted pretty much everything I have ever read on the subject. As to the BBC it has now rewritten much of the article which I presumed happened after the majority of people read it. Whilst I am a fan of correcting errors there is also the danger of rewriting history.

  5. therrawbuzzin says:

    This is not new conduct. by either the climate Ayatollah Harrabin, or the disgraceful BBC.

    Obviously, how much oil is extracted from the North Sea depends upon how financially efficient it is to do so, and the major defining factor in this is the price of oil itself.

    The BBC bangs on about the OBR’s forecasts for oil revenues, and will not, despite prodding, publish the DECC’s forecast for oil prices alongside the OBR’s. (The DECC’s forecast for oil prices is almost 50% higher)

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/oilproj-460×290.jpg

    The BBC knows, full well that there are 40 years of oil supply from the North Sea, and who knows how much west of Shetland?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20042070

    There are 2.4m homes in Scotland, and the BBC stands to lose £350m in licence fees in the event of Scottish independence, and is ignoring its charter with the collusion of the UK govt. and stonewalling any complaints about its behaviour.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi therrawbuzzin

      You are entirely right to point out that an estimate of reserves depends on the price of it. Furthermore as the reserves fall the price is likely to rise leading to the likelihood of more reserves being found or being economic to exploit. Of course that assumes an element of free markets which is a moot point at this time.

      You may enjoy this from the carbon brief.

      “It turns out that the UK has been ‘running out’ of oil for decades. In fact, the UK has had much less than 15 years of oil reserves remaining for the past 30 years”

      1. therrawbuzzin says:

        Lol.

        1. therrawbuzzin says:

          Eventually it will not be financial efficiency which will determine recoverability, but energy efficiency.

  6. col says:

    Electricity from the tides? There are plans afoot to build a tidal lagoon in
    Swansea Bay which claims it would power over 100k houses in Swansea.
    Will it happen? Strange how some renewables are favoured eg wind….so why not tides – power twice a day for the forseeable future! Also, they provide jobs, leisure facilities, can reduce erosion and control flooding. They can be built quickly compared to Nuclear … 2 years rather than 10. So a relatively modest outlay (Swansea £850M) with a quick return is more likely to be funded privately (vs £10B for Nuclear) … I quite fancy a few shares in a lagoon fund!

    1. Anonymous says:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_Tidal_Power_Station

      Tidal power is commercially viable. Unfortunately it can only supply a small fraction of Britain’s electricity demand.

  7. Anonymous says:

    so it is not true? what a surpise

  8. Laughing Gnome says:

    Good post.
    I feel sure the BBC was worthy of respect once. Maybe I have just become more cynical?

  9. col says:

    South Korea is building a Tidal Barrage (800MW) – completion 2015. It proposes a further Tidal Barrage (1300MW) to start 2017. China is building them too.
    The Swansea Bay lagoon should produce 400MW and is considered a SMALL lagoon.
    Professor Roger Falconer (Director of the Hydro-environmental Research Centre at Cardiff University) wrote that a combination of a Severn Barrage
    and Lagoons around Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Towyn, Rhyl and Prestatyn
    could provide most of Wales electricity needs, protection against
    coastal erosion and rising sea levels.
    From a supplement of the Western Mail.

    A Somerset Levels lagoon could provide power and sort the flooding problem.
    Then there’s the Mersey, Morecambe Bay, the Clyde…..

  10. Anonymous says:

    That or they are prepping us for an announcement on new nuclear reactors ….

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dutch

    Critiques of our political class are fine! Also I knew that there were hints of this in the article itself in spite of the fact that the BBC has re-written it!

    Anyway this bit seems unchanged.

    “Professor Anderson said: “Coal, oil and gas resources in Europe are running down and we need alternatives.

    “The UK urgently needs to be part of a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy sources such as wave, wind, tidal, and solar power.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi ExpatInBG

    It seems you may have been rather prescient in your choice of country.

    “with Bulgaria having 34 years of coal left.”

    If that is as accurate as the other data in the report then it will be more like 300 years…

  13. Anonymous says:

    In 1994 a friend’s friend & geology grad went to West Germany. He’d been taught the communist supplied Bulgaria maps were a state secret, imagine his surprise to find better maps on sale in an ordinary book store.

    Any Bulgarian coal reserve numbers want a large error margin – whatever source that report used.

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