So. You’ve plucked up the courage. You’ve invited those bloomin’ awful estate agents to come around and pick holes in your home of twenty years (oh, and that nice chap, the one with long grey hair, the one you decided to give the business to), and you are about to see your property go on the market.

Ooh, how long will it be before a buyer comes along?

Well, sooner than you might think actually.

Or so it would seem…

I can virtually guarantee that at some point after you make the decision to put your property up for sale, you will receive, through the post, addressed variously to “The Homeowner” or “Private and Confidential” or merely to the property itself, at least one letter from a “speedy” property company, or some such velocity-linked adjective, telling you that they have seen your home is on the market and they would like to buy it!

Contact them with a reference number and they’ll make you an offer. And it will be CASH! And you can complete whenever you want! And they’ll pay you very nearly the asking price (subject to some terms and conditions in their very tiny small print)!

Wow! Simples! You’ll probably be wondering why you went to all the hassle of employing the estate agent in the first place (even though he is a charming chap who needs the work).

But wait. Think a minute…

How did they know the property is up for sale? Do they have some sort of extra sensory perception that means they can identify every property that is available merely by donning their space-age thinking cap? Ah, no, it’s probably because your estate agent has advertised it on the internet and they, like many estate agents across the country, have a system in place that flags up new properties coming onto Rightmove etc.

Oh, but they’ve singled out your home. Of the thousands on the market, it’s yours they want. Or, maybe, it’s an automated blanket mailshot that goes out to every property that becomes available. Oh, yes, it possibly might be that.

But where’s the harm? If I contact them, I can save the estate agent’s fees (even though he does, I assure you, really need the money: he has a family who like to eat occasionally and wear clothes that don’t look like they’ve been 15 rounds with Anthony Joshua in a bad mood). Oh, but hang on, didn’t the lovely agent explain, and confirm in writing, that his fee is payable if the buyer has been introduced to the property through some action that he has taken, and wouldn’t that possibly include the fact that the only way these people know your home is up for sale (and, incidentally, the asking price) is through his advertisement? Hmmm, you might get away with it, but you probably won’t, and there’s a chance of accepting a low offer AND having to pay the agent. That’s a tad risky, isn’t it?

Look. Let’s cut to the chase.

If you receive a letter from a company telling you they want to buy your property, by all means tell them they can … just tell them to contact your estate agent who will gladly sell it to them for the right price. What have they got to lose? They won’t be paying the estate agency fees, so it’s not going to cost them any more by buying that way. And you won’t have the worry of being found out later and chased through the courts for the estate agency fee you thought you’d saved.

Frankly, these companies don’t seem to want to do business in the proper manner, which must, surely, make you think there’s something a little, er, dare I say the word “suspicious”?

I’m sure these companies do sometimes buy properties. But I reckon that if they genuinely had a real keenness to buy your home, and are not up to some sort of trickery, they’d contact your estate agent and submit their offer.

So my advice? Do as I recommend to all of my clients. Open the letter. Have a read. Remember this blog. Think about Pinocchio and wonder to yourself how long these people’s noses must be by now. Then throw the letter in the recycling bag and carry on about your day.