Want to sell a house for cash, quick?
A good bet is to call one of the many signs that litter most big-city neighborhoods.
‘We buy houses’
‘Cash for your house’
‘Sell ‘as-is’ for cash’
Those are a few of the different slogans that are put on the signs posted on telephone poles and street signs all over the place — Sometimes illegally.
‘Hey, stop that!’
When we first got into real estate we heard about the bandit signs and how they can generate a lot of interested sellers.
I saw a middle-aged man riding his bicycle with a handful of ‘We buy houses’ signs under his arm. I knew this guy!
When I later ran into this individual around town (Chicago, Illinois) I approached him about the signs he was posting. He immediately went on the defensive. Ears perked up, and he took a step back.
See, this guy wasn’t posting the signs. He was picking them up.
In his eyes, he was doing the community a service by picking up the litter these people had left behind. He claimed he worked for the city, but after asking him how much he was paid he started to stumble over his words.
To this individual, he thought people who posted these signs were scum of the earth.
“If they want advertising they can pay for it like everyone else and buy a billboard,” he said.
And he had a point. But certainly there’s two sides to every story …
Companies That Buy Houses In Any Condition
We can speak from first-hand experience that the majority of houses we’ve bought have brightened up the neighborhood when we were complete.
It is not uncommon for neighbors to approach us when they see us outside with dumpsters and all the construction work.
“It’s about time you guys came,” they’ve said.
Usually thanking us for helping lift the neighborhood and their own home values. What we do is take one of the more worn-down houses on the block and turn it into one of the best, if not the best.
Real-estate investors have a purpose and without them there would be an unruly number of boarded-up, vacant, disheveled houses littering many blocks in the city and even many suburbs.
So, is it worse to ‘litter’ cross streets with bandit signs. Or, to have the neighborhood eyesore of a house be vacant and ripe for squatters or drug deals?
Squatter: a person who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land.
How Does We Buy Houses For Cash Work
Before we began real estate, we had no idea what the signs meant either.
‘We buy houses’
I figured it was some type of pyramid scheme and didn’t give it much more thought.
It turns out, if you would like to sell a house but don’t want to list it with a real-estate agent this is one of your best options. It connects you directly with house buyers who pay cash directly for your house.
You can also list it For Sale By Owner, but those houses tend to not sell as quickly and they also attract retail buyers who tend to be more picky.
If you have a house that you want to sell ‘as-is’ and not fix or clean anything and would prefer the process to be quick and painless, the We Buy Houses buyers are usually a good fit for you.
Are The Ads For Real?
Not all We Buy Houses companies are created equal.
Like with any business, it’s best to do your due diligence and research the company you choose to deal with.
Here are a few items to look for when looking at We Buy Houses reviews to make sure they are valid:
- Request a list of their current properties
- Check reviews online
- Ask for referrals
To blindly say a We Buy Houses company is going to be honest and upfront is quite naive.
After all, it is still a business. And businesses are in operation to profit.
There are many companies out there — such as Windy City Solutions, We buy houses Chicago — that operate ethically and can be trusted. But certainly many others are only in it for the money and don’t care who they hurt or scam in the process.
Can You Trust?
It has happened on more than one occasion that we get a second call from someone we spoke to about buying their house.
A common scenario is we meet with Mr. Seller and present our offer. Mr. Seller says, sorry we have a better offer. Mr. Seller calls us back 30 days later.
What happens here is the seller blindly goes with the highest offer. Mr. Seller didn’t do his research and signed with anyone who promised the biggest number. They didn’t qualify the individual and instead just hoped the process would go as planned.
This works, some of the time.
But sometimes the highest offer is only the highest because they want to close the deal so bad they will say whatever number they know will get the contract signed.
In these cases, when the buyer goes back and runs their numbers again things don’t pencil out. So, they have to renegotiate.
A more common scenario is the top bid is actually a wholesaler.
To be a wholesaler there is a very low barrier to entry. Sometimes they just took a weekend course as their only experience.
They hear about how they can position themselves in the middle of a real-estate transaction and make tens of thousands of dollars. So, why not give it a try?
The ones who are fresh off a weekend course are usually less educated individuals in the real-estate field that aren’t as adept at running comps and knowing what is a deal and what should be the going rate.
They promise an unreasonable number, try to pitch it out to their Craigslist buyer’s list and when they don’t get any bites they let the contract die.
Often they won’t return the calls of the seller as the clock ticks toward the scheduled close date. Mr. Seller grows anxious and then reaches back out to us after the property has been collecting dust for the last 30-45 days — however long they signed the contract for.
Taking it one step further, there are local wholesalers and ones that operate virtually.
A common practice is for national brands to operate in different markets.
What these individuals and/or companies will do is position themselves for marketing in a market they don’t live in.
They may extend postcards across the country, create a website for a national company or even a market they have never been to. To take it one step further, occasionally these individuals will go as far as to take out a PO Box in the new city they are operating in.
There is nothing wrong with these practices in theory.
The more common roadblocks are:
- When the seller is looking for a truly local company and the wool is pulled over their eyes.
- The virtual wholesaler may be more likely to act with unscrupulous business practices because they don’t regularly do business in this market.
Pros And Cons
With everything there are a lot of factors to take into account.
The majority of people we do business with in the Chicago, Illinois market, they prefer the convenience of how we operate. They have the stress of the real-estate process taken away. We work with very clear numbers that are easy to understand and there’s not as many variables as the traditional real-estate process.
There’s no decisions of what agent to choose, no house-prep needed, no open houses, no waiting for buyers and no praying the banks come through. With Windy City Solutions, and many other similar companies, it’s a direct connection that doesn’t have as many moving parts.
There Is A Trade-Off
If you are looking to maximize your sale price, this is not going to be the best route.
Our suggested route (if all the boxes check out), is to take the time and renovate the house yourself and then list it for top dollar with an agent.
The only issue is there are three big factors involved with that:
1- Time: You need to have a lot of extra availability to make the decisions involved with a house renovation. What items to pick, where to get them from, what contractors to use, etc. Many of these answers are not as clear as they may appear from watching HGTV.
There some trustworthy contractors that do great work for reasonable prices. But from our first-hand experiences, this is the toughest bridge to cross. The barrier to entry is low for general contractors which leaves room for a lot of scam artists who are quick talkers that tell you everything you want to hear.
You may think you’re immune to these practices, but we still get duped to this day by people who take your money and run. Or, ones that don’t do as good of work as advertised. This is easily the hardest part of flipping houses and we have a wealth of experience.
2- Money: House renovations are not cheap. We account for an average of $50,000 on our house renovations and that is while working with investor-friendly contractors and vendors.
We’ve tighted our operations, but what should a homeowner expect to pay for the same? One in a half times, or even double would not be unreasonable. We paid more when we first began, and only over time have our prices been able to be decreased.
Aside from all of that, not everyone has the expendable income for a home renovation. According to a 2017 poll, 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account.
3- Stress: The previous two points typically bring with them an enormous amount of headache.
It’s not easy being at a house all day, getting bids from contractors where it may seem most are trying to scam you. Most telling you whatever you want to hear and trying to decide between the do-ers and the say-ers. That’s a full time job in and of itself.
Then balancing your books at the end of each week is never fun once the project gets off the ground. When finances get tight and work-change orders happen, you may not have enough money budgeted for all the items that come up.
We allow for 10-15% cushion from our beginning budget. If you’re a first timer, that should double.
What Is Your Opinion On We Buy Houses
Each individual needs to weigh their particular needs.
Most people can relate to understanding they aren’t an expert in something.
Changing the oil in your car isn’t that difficult. Yet most people take their car in to get it serviced for regular oil changes by a professional.
If you’re the type that likes to get dirty and change your own oil, then maybe selling to a We Buy Houses company isn’t the best fit for you.
Have you ever spent hours trying to fix a leaky toilet or an inoperable garage door only to throw your hands in the air and say, ‘Fine, I’ll call a professional!’
We are that pro.
However, if you like to take on new projects and test yourself. Maybe you have money burning a hole in your pocket and enough free time where doing your own renovation doesn’t seem daunting.
We Buy Houses Unethical
As we’ve stated previously, not all vendors are created equal, in any field.
Certainly you need to vet each company individually and come to your own determination of who is being truthful and who isn’t.
Is the practice itself of buying houses ‘off-market’ unethical? If there’s a demand, then it seems like the market has spoken.
If there were no sellers, the buyers wouldn’t exist.
Windy City Solutions Reviews
We’ve found our best practice is to use honesty in all cases.
This article is a great example. We open up and tell everything about the industry and how we operate.
We operate in full transparency. If your house isn’t a good fit for us, we have no problem telling you. As a matter of fact, we often refer sellers to agents that would be a better fit.
We don’t try to hide the fact that we are a small, family-run business. We operate with integrity and care about our reputation in the industry.
We buy houses in Chicago and are constantly on the lookout for off-market properties in all Chicago metro suburbs including Alsip, Crestwood, Flossmoor, Homewood, Homer Glen, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Park Ridge, Romeoville, Aurora, Naperville, Berwyn, Cicero, Calumet City, Oak Forest, Plainfield, Oak Lawn, Bolingbrook, Joliet, Chicago Heights, Calumet City, Country Club Hills, Streamwood, Elgin, Des Plaines, Richton Park and Dolton. Among others.