You'll see them all over the streets attached to light posts and you'll also find these ads running on online classified sites. "We Buy Houses - Sell Your House Today!" signs with the phone number attached can be quite deceiving. It's tempting to call to find out how much you could get paid for your home in order to get instant money. It's hard to get a direct answer upfront though and when you finally get a quote you'll be quite surprised.
Usually you won't get more than 80% of the market value of your home. In addition, your equity position may very well be discounted by 50% or more. These companies make a living off of people that are selling a home in a desperate situation. Even when you factor in the cost of the real estate commission that you'd have to pay your agent, you'd still end up with a lot more money in your pocket by listing your home the traditional way.
Don't get fooled if the ad says that you'll be offered top price. The top price for these companies is extremely low. As well, you'll only get paid quickly if you decide to take the first offer, which will be ridiculously low. It's a complete waste of time and energy that even the truly desperate should avoid completely.
Anyone that's in a desperate situation to sell their home should still use a real estate agent. The odds are in your favour that you would sell your home at a much higher price quickly when your agent spreads the word that you need to sell your home fast.
Whether you decide to sell your home to a company that advertises "fast cash" or whether you sell your home the conventional way with an agent, you'll still end up with cash either way you do it. Desperate sellers should contact a real estate agent to find out what their options are and what a realistic time estimate would be to sell the house. This is a much safer option and a much more profitable one to choose.