You’ve probably seen their online ads, fliers, or even the signs nailed to utility poles: “We Buy Ugly Houses,” followed by a phone number.
But what is We Buy Ugly Houses? Is it a scam?
And if it’s legitimate, how much will this company actually pay for your house?
According to most We Buy Ugly Houses reviews, the company is not a scam. The legitimate franchise operators doing business under the We Buy Ugly Houses brand name are cash buyers who, yes, buy ugly houses.
The catch is that they won’t pay anything close to fair market value, or how much you could make selling it conventionally. That’s your tradeoff for a fast, easy sale. Some reports say that We Buy Ugly Houses will pay as little as 50% of a property’s fair market value, which is a steep price to pay for convenience.
If you want to get the most possible money when you sell your home, you should compare all of your options. For example, our friends at Clever can connect you with a listing agent who will sell your home for a flat fee of $3,000, or just 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.
What is We Buy Ugly Houses?
|📍 Locations||More than 800 local franchises across 45 states and Washington, D.C.|
|⏱️ Time to offer||24-48 hours|
|📅 Time to close||As little as three weeks|
|👍 What customers love||Fast, easy transaction with flexible closing times|
|👎 Common complaints||Low offers, limited ability to negotiate price|
The We Buy Ugly Houses business model is very simple. The company:
- Looks for financially distressed homeowners with undervalued properties in subpar condition (“ugly houses”)
- Offers a quick cash payment at below-market prices
- Quickly renovates and flips the properties or rents them out
We Buy Ugly Houses can be a viable option for sellers who:
- Are under extreme time pressure because of divorce, an impending move, or other circumstances
- Have inherited property after a death in the family
- Have a property that’s vacant or in disrepair
There are very few properties, no matter how poor the condition, that We Buy Ugly Houses won’t purchase.
How does We Buy Ugly Houses work?
If you sell your home with We Buy Ugly Houses, these are the steps you can expect to take:
- Submit information about your home. You’ll contact your local We Buy Ugly Houses” franchisee online or over the phone and give basic information about your property, such as location, age, condition, square footage, etc.
- Schedule an inspection. We Buy Ugly Houses will view the property, often within 24 hours. After inspecting the property, an agent from the company will make a cash offer. This offer is usually non-negotiable—in other words, it’s a “take it or leave it” offer.
- Accept the cash offer. If you decide to accept this offer, you’ll sign a purchase agreement and choose a closing date. Cash buyers like We Buy Ugly Houses can offer much more flexibility on closing dates than traditional buyers since there’s no financing involved.
- Get paid. You can finalize the deal, and get cash in hand, in as little as two to five weeks.
While this is the general process you can expect, We Buy Ugly Houses is a cash buyer brand owned by HomeVestors. It licenses the name out to franchisees, who work locally as independent operators.
Each We Buy Ugly Houses franchisee has been trained by the parent company, but they work without any oversight or guidance. Your experience may vary based on your local franchise. This makes it doubly important for you to check the reviews and references for any We Buy Ugly Houses buyer you’re thinking of working with.
We Buy Ugly Houses locations
We Buy Ugly Houses has franchise offices in 45 states and Washington, D.C., with multiple locations in many counties or cities.
How much does We Buy Ugly Houses pay?
While there are anecdotal reports of We Buy Ugly Houses offering as little as 50% of a home’s market value, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much the company tends to offer, especially when you consider that every franchisee is independent. But it seems that We Buy Ugly Houses adheres to a well-known rule in the house flipping circles: the 70% rule.
The 70% rule works like this: for a buyer to reliably turn a profit on a property, they should pay no more than 70% of the house’s after repair value (ARV), minus the cost of repairs and renovations.
Here’s a breakdown of how We Buy Ugly Houses compares to listing on the open market, assuming the company uses the 70% rule:
|Repairing and listing your home||Selling to We Buy Ugly Houses|
|Sale price||$180,000 (full ARV)||$96,000 (70% of ARV)|
|Cost of repairs||-$30,000||$0|
|Closing costs and commission*||-$16,200||$0|
Of course, if you don’t have the money on hand to pay for repairs up front, or if your home’s drawbacks are due to factors beyond your control, like location, a cash buyer could be exactly what you need.
Keep in mind that 70% is the theoretical maximum the company can pay you and still make a profit, meaning that if We Buy Ugly Houses can persuade you to take 60% or even 50% of the ARV, it’ll make even more money off the transaction.
And many We Buy Ugly Houses reviews describe company representatives using high pressure tactics to persuade sellers to take extremely low offers, often after understating the property’s actual market value.
Want to sell your home for the highest price possible — but also need to move fast? Sellers with Clever Real Estate get offers 2.8x faster than the national average AND you’ll only pay a 1% or $3K listing fee, compared to the typical 3%.
In our earlier example, you wouldn’t walk away with $134,000. By selling with Clever, you’d pocket $137,400 in net profit from your sale!
We Buy Ugly Houses reviews: The good and bad
We Buy Ugly Houses reviews from customers reveal several recurring themes. Sellers who just want to unload a property end up fairly satisfied with their experience, while sellers who prioritize a profitable deal often have complaints.
Let’s look at some representative We Buy Ugly houses reviews and complaints.
A distressed home in sells quickly
This seller had a home with a defective roof, which is a very expensive home repair. They were able to sell the home to We Buy Ugly Houses for cash and came away from the experience fully satisfied.
A quick sale following a death in the family
This seller prioritized speed and ease over maximum profit. They’d inherited the house after a death in the family, and just wanted to unload it, regardless of price. Under these circumstances, We Buy Ugly Houses gave them exactly what they were looking for.
We Buy Ugly Houses complaints: Lowball offers
In this HomeVestors review (We Buy Ugly Houses’ parent company), a seller was motivated to sell, but passed up HomeVestors’ insultingly low offer. Three months later, they were able to sell the property for three times what HomeVestors offered. The seller echoes the advice we offered above: always get multiple offers from multiple buyers.
Another lowball offer — and unsavory pressure tactics
In another We Buy Ugly Houses complaint, a seller tells an appalling story of HomeVestors representatives seemingly trying to manipulate the seller’s expectations with an extremely under-market offer. Just a year and a half later, the seller was able to sell for six times what HomeVestors offered.
We Buy Ugly Houses scams and lawsuits
Independent contractors operating under the HomeVestors-owned We Buy Ugly Houses brand are legitimate cash buyers.
But because the company caters to the desperate and highly-motivated; dangles fast, all-cash offers; and advertises with signs nailed to telephone poles next to freeway off-ramps, it’s created a market that’s ripe for exploitation. And as the We Buy Ugly Houses brand has become more widely known, scams have proliferated.
So how do you know if the cash buyer you’re dealing with is legitimate? A good rule of thumb is that the money should only move in one direction in a home sale — and that’s towards you, the seller.
If your buyer asks you for money for “processing fees” or anything else, that’s a sign that you’re probably being ripped off.
To avoid scams, always ask the cash buyer for multiple references. If they can’t provide them, or if the references you contact don’t seem legit, look for a different buyer.
In a common scam, a cash buyer will make an offer on your home, sign a contract agreeing to that price, and then stall while trying to sell that contract to another investor at a profit.
This is called “wholesaling” and it can be a legitimate way to conduct business — but it shouldn’t be done on the sly. If you sell to a cash buyer, make sure there’s a clause in the sales contract stating that they’re not allowed to “reassign” the contract.
Otherwise, you could be in for a long, frustrating wait as they try to flip your contract for enough cash to pay both you and themselves.
A We Buy Ugly Houses ponzi scheme
In other We Buy Ugly Houses reviews, the brand has received criticism for its ethically murky business practices.
One well-publicized example involved a We Buy Ugly Houses franchisee from Colorado who ran a ponzi scheme, buying a series of properties at below market value with promises of big resale profits — only to use the sale proceeds to pay off previous sellers and investors.
The perpetrator—who, to be fair, committed some of her $14.5 million fraud while working for a company that was not affiliated with We Buy Ugly Houses—was eventually sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
We Buy Ugly Houses pros and cons
✅ A fast transaction
Everything happens at warp speed when you deal with We Buy Ugly Houses. A representative will inspect your property within a day or two of first contact, and often make a cash offer on the spot. Once you accept the offer, you can close in as little as two weeks. That’s a huge difference from the traditional sale process which, even in the best case scenario, takes at least two months.
✅ Less uncertainty
Unless you have a property that has wide appeal, you’re going to go into a traditional sale with more questions than answers. How long will it take to find a buyer? Will you find a buyer at all? Will you get above or below your asking price? Will you be able to close before the end of the year, or will the process drag out for months?
With We Buy Ugly Houses, almost all of those questions are resolved. As its name implies, there are very few properties, if any, that We Buy Ugly Houses won’t buy.
✅ Fewer associated costs
Selling a home the traditional way incurs a lot of costs; between commission and closing costs, sellers can end up shelling out up to 10% of a home’s sale price.
With We Buy Ugly Houses, the seller doesn’t have to negotiate a lower commission or reduce closing costs, because there aren’t any. But, keep in mind that this is one of the factors that keep We Buy Ugly Houses cash offers so far under market value.
✅ Fewer hassles
Bringing a dilapidated property to market requires a lot of repairs and renovations. That costs time and money. But selling to a cash buyer like We Buy Ugly Houses means they’ll take it off your hands as is. If you’re looking for a fast transaction, with no upfront out-of-pocket costs, this is the way to go.
⛔️ Lowball offers
It’s well known that We Buy Ugly Houses extends offers that are far below market value. Part of that is because it often buys homes that require repairs and renovations before they can be resold.
But part of it is simply built into the business model. We Buy Ugly Houses knows that many sellers are under external pressures, and will take a very low offer just to get the sale done.
Since every dollar below market value the company can avoid paying is a dollar of profit, it will make the lowest offer possible—often as low as 50% below fair market value.
⛔️ Questionable tactics
Some franchisees use high pressure tactics to push sellers into accepting extremely low offers. While this probably isn’t HomeVestors company policy, there are many examples of individual franchisees using unsavory and borderline unethical tactics.
Alternatives to We Buy Ugly Houses
We Buy Ugly Houses fills a legitimate niche for sellers. If you want to sell a property quickly and frictionlessly, and you aren’t concerned with making the most money possible from the sale, it can be a viable option.
However, because of the market it caters to, fraud is a real risk, so make sure you do your research, check references, and get multiple offers.
You should also look at alternative options for selling your home, like:
- Selling FSBO
- Selling to an iBuyer
- Selling with the help of a real estate agent
In a for sale by owner (FSBO) sale, the homeowner handles all the marketing and negotiating themselves. While this can help you avoid realtor commissions and might net you more money than a cash buyer, it has its drawbacks.
The average listing with an agent sells for almost $80,000 more than a for sale by owner (FSBO) listing. It may take slightly longer, but your increased profits will more than offset the seller closing costs and commission you’ll be paying — especially if you use an agent who’s agreed to work for a reduced commission.
Sell to an iBuyer
iBuyers are another type of company that buys houses for cash. These startups make instant offers on houses and can close in as little as a week.
iBuyers don’t pay fair market value for homes, but their offers are likely to be more reasonable than a company like We Buy Ugly Houses.
But, while iBuyers pay all cash and can close quickly, they generally have much stricter criteria for houses.For example, iBuyers usually don’t buy houses that were built before 1950, or houses in need of significant repairs.
» If you’d like to sell to an iBuyer, contact Opendoor today to request a free, no-obligation offer!
Sell with a real estate agent
We’ve partnered with Clever Real Estate to help our audience connect with top local agents who’ve already agreed to provide a full-service, top flight sale experience for a flat fee of $3,000, or 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.
If you’re considering going with a cash buyer like We Buy Ugly Houses, you owe it to yourself to at least seek out a free consultation. Clever partner agents can provide a free market analysis and pricing strategy so you can compare how much you’d make with an agent vs We Buy Ugly Houses.
We Found the Truth About HomeVestors: In our deep-dive review, we investigated how HomeVestors works — and whether sellers can trust its fast cash offers.
Are We Buy Houses Companies a Ripoff? Cash buyer companies offer fast, all-cash deals for hard-to-sell properties. Depending on your circumstances, this could be a hassle-free way to sell, or an offer that leaves you feeling ripped off. Read our guide to learn if a cash buyer company is right for you!
Companies That Buy Houses for Cash: Solution or Scam? From cash buyer companies to iBuyers, we gathered the reviews and research you need to read before selling your home to a company for cash.
How much does We Buy Ugly Houses pay?
We Buy Ugly Houses usually adheres to a well-known rule in house flipping circles: the 70% rule. That is, to reliably turn a profit on a property, the company will typically pay no more than 70% of the house’s market value, minus the cost of repairs and renovations. However, some customers claimed that the company offered only 50% of what they could sell for on the open market. Most sellers will make more cash overall by listing with a low commission real estate agent
Is We Buy Ugly Houses legit?
The HomeVestors-owned We Buy Ugly Houses brand is a legitimate cash buyer that operates in 46 states. But because the company caters to the desperate and highly-motivated with all-cash offers, it's created a market that’s ripe for exploitation.