Are the “We Buy Houses” signs safe for home sellers?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new home-buying tactic is growing in popularity across western Massachusetts, but is it safe?

Maybe you’ve seen the advertisements, bright yellow signs with messages like: “We buy houses for cash!” or “I buy houses fast.”

The 22News I-Team found several signs by roadways across western Massachusetts. None of the signs listed names or businesses, but they did list phone numbers, so the I-Team made calls in search of answers.

Four numbers went straight to voicemail. One person declined to talk to us, and another person agreed to an interview, but then called back to cancel.

The I-Team searched for websites and reviews on the Better Business Bureau, but failed to find any information on the businesses behind the bandit signs in western Massachusetts.

Depending on where you live, these signs could even be illegal. Most cities and towns prohibit people from putting up signs unless they have a permit, or permission from the property owner.

East Longmeadow Town Clerk Thomas Florence told the I-Team, according to the town’s Building Commissioner, the “We buy houses” signs are not allowed anywhere in the town, and a permit would not be issued for these types of signs. He said if people illegally tape them to poles, enforcement officers can take them down.

The same rule applies in Holyoke and Chicopee, and several other local communities.

Real estate broker Kevin Sears told the I-Team, these signs are usually posted by wholesalers or house flippers, not realtors. “When I see the signs that say “We Buy Houses,” I’m always a little suspect.”

Sears also warns depending on who the person is, they could offer you a lower price for your house than you’d get elsewhere. “What the person is looking to do is try and get as good of a deal as possible, buy a house cheap, fix it, and sell it. It’s absolutely possible a consumer could lose some money, because they’re negotiating at a point of weakness, and the person who’s looking to buy the house is in a position of strength.”

However, Sears said the people behind the “We Buy Houses” signs do serve a purpose, especially if you can’t repair your house before putting it on the market, but he urges you to always get a second opinion. “I understand wanting to buy low and sell high, but it’s not always in the best interest of the consumer. So if a consumer is looking to sell, they should always consult with a realtor or real estate professional to find out what the value of their home is, so they can get the best deal possible.”

Attorney Abbe McLane specializes in real estate.

She told the I-Team while some of these people may be legitimate, you shouldn’t sign a contract with an unknown company without having an attorney look over it first. “Before you sign with a company like this, definitely talk to an attorney. Because if you don’t get paid, you have no house and no money, and that’s not a good combination.”

McLane urges home sellers to talk to an attorney or a realtor before making any decisions.