“We Buy Ugly Houses.”
The slogan is on billboards from coast to coast in the lower 48. Maybe you’ve seen it on TV. Part way through American Pickers, an ad appears with a guy in his driveway trying to cover-up the car his ex wife has vandalized. Luckily he’s able to move on with his life after “We Buy Ugly Houses” buys his home.
You might even have seen cars, trucks, and vans, with “We Buy Ugly Houses” ad wraps on them driving around your town or city and you might have thought to yourself:
“I wonder how the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ people decide if a house is ugly?” or maybe you are considering selling your home and are thinking “The ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ people are a big, national company, they must be the best to sell to.”
The thing is, when you look below the surface of the big yellow signs, the flashy national ad campaigns, and the cartoon caveman, “We Buy Ugly Houses” isn’t everything you might imagine it to be.
Let us walk you through.
What does the Ugly in “We Buy Ugly Houses” mean?
At FasterHouse, we buy houses of all kinds whether the house is ugly or pretty. So why do they just claim to buy only ugly houses? What does the Ugly in “We Buy Ugly Houses” mean?
Nothing. Yes, you read that right. It means absolutely nothing at all.
As far as telling you about what kind of house the company buys, the word “ugly” is meaningless and the reason for this is simple. “We Sell Ugly Houses” doesn’t explain what the company does, it is just the name of the company, or to be exact, it is the name of a franchise brand under which real estate investors buy and sell houses.
The Ugly House website says:
The We Buy Ugly Houses franchise is a low-cost opportunity for investors interested in building wealth through their own real estate investment business. Our unique franchise opportunity includes proprietary software that franchisees use to build their business by giving them the tools to evaluate homes for purchase and estimate repairs.
Well. you might be wondering, “How does that work then?”
The background to “Ugly Houses” is a complex one. They are a legitimate business but instead of the experienced, national organization, with decades of experience buying house in your local area you might think you are dealing with, the reality is very complicated and very different.
The People Behind “We Buy Ugly Houses”
In Beverly Hills, there is an company called Levine Leichtman Partners who own all kinds of businesses and franchises across the world, including Quiznos, Lawn Doctor, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and McKenzie Taxidermy Supplies. In 2017 this company bought HomeVestors of America.
What has this got to do with “We Buy Ugly Houses?”
HomeVestors of America sell franchises around the country, to real estate investors, or people who want to become real estate investors. To qualify to buy a franchise package you need to have enough money for the franchise and enough working capital to run the business. The franchise “package”they sell is “We Buy Ugly Houses.”
When someone buys an Ugly Houses franchise they make a lump sum payment and must then pay a fixed amount each month to the parent company, HomeVestors America. These payments buy, among other things:
- Qualified Leads. Basically, if you call Ugly Houses, or fill in their contact form, your details are taken by a central office who will have nothing to do with the sale of your home. This central office passes your details to your local Ugly Houses franchise owner. After this you will have nothing further to do with the central office. Basically your local owner buys your details from the switchboard.
- Software. The Ugly Houses People have a software system so that all franchises are run in exactly the same way. All owners must work to the same rules, no matter what the situation. A computer program is also provided for the franchise owners to use when deciding what purchase price to offer you for your house. There is little in the way of wiggle room for the Ugly Houses people to take into account your individual circumstances. You, your situation, and your house are “handled” according to the company rules.
- Mass advertising campaigns and direct selling campaigns to help franchise owners “identify investors and home buyers with a stake in area neighborhoods.” This way franchise owners do not need to live or spend time in the local. They can just buy an area and buy contacts without being a part of the community.
So, instead of the big, national company you imagined, with staff and branches all working together across the country “We Buy Ugly Houses” is actually a group of 100’s of individual branches who are only connected to each other because they pay to use the same name, value houses with the same software, and buy leads from the national advertising.
Which Facts Are True?
When you sell your home, you want to work with someone who will be clear, honest, and trustworthy, so it is important to do your research. I spent some time researching “We Buy Ugly Houses” and discovered many “facts” that the company could not get straight. By digging deeper I also found information that was not untrue but that had been written to give a certain impression.
How long have they been “#1”:
I noticed that when you click on the “sell a house” link on the HomeVestors website a banner near the bottom proudly declares they have been “America’s #1 Home Buyer since 1989” but on the home page it says “HomeVestors of America® also known as We Buy Ugly Houses®, HomeVestors is the number one home buyer in America and has been since 1996.”
In addition it doesn’t say who says they are number one or how that number one status is calculated.
How many branches they have and where they are:
Ugly Houses also seem to be rather unclear when it comes to how many franchises there are and where they operate On the FAQ page it says “We have over 200 independent franchisees in 33 different states” and the about page tells me “approximately more than 900 franchisees spanning across 45 states and growing.”
On the HomeVestors franchise site, set up especially for people thinking of buying into the business, it says there are 1020 independently owned and operated franchises nationwide.
Number of houses sold:
In one spot the We Buy Ugly House site it says “HomeVestors and We Buy Ugly Houses franchisees have purchased 85,000+ homes nationwide” while on the Homevestors site it says 75,000.
They invented buying houses for cash?:
Again, on the Ugly Houses website they proudly proclaim “Leading The Industry Since We Invented It” I am not quite sure which industry they are talking about because I’m pretty sure people have been buying houses for cash since well before 1989.
Home Buying Professionals:
The We Buy Ugly Houses site tells you to call and they will put you in touch with one of their home buying professionals, a statement that certainly gives the impression you are being passed to an experienced, full time real estate expert in your area.
Franchise owners do not need any prior experience and get a one week training course on the Ugly Houses system. The person coming to your home from Ugly Houses could have, in theory, just started up the day before. Your’s could be the first house they have ever tried to buy. Some “associate” franchisees don’t even buy houses as their main, full-time job. For some it is just a side gig they dabble in for extra cash.
Surfing the net I found stories of franchise owners who, before buying their way into the Ugly Houses system, were; a software engineer for Microsoft, a hairdresser, an admin assistant in a small medical supply firm, and an ex-laborer. Nothing wrong with any of those professions of course, they just don’t qualify you to be a real estate professional.
Company history and structure:
At first glance, reading the websites of HomeVestors America and We Buy Ugly Houses, you would have the impression that HomeVestors began operating in 1989 and is now the same organization, running a nationwide company, where everyone works together.
HomeVestors began in 1989 and once they had built their “House Buying System” they began to sell the rights to use it in as part of a franchise model in 1996, changing the name used for customers to “We Buy Ugly Houses.”
Then, when the real estate market crashed in 2007-2008, a number of their franchise owners either went bankrupt, sold their franchise, or closed down their operations. HomeVestors were in need of financial support and a company called Franchise Brands gave HomeVestors a huge cash injection, in return for a portion of the company. Franchise Brands, part of a complex web of organizations, is a holding company which was founded in 2005 by the people that started Subway.
In 2008 Franchise Brands bought the majority share in HomeVestors but then, as Subways revenues decreased the web of parent companies looked for ways to cut losses and raise capital so they sold HomeVestors to another investment company, Levine Leichtman Partners, which is where we came in at the beginning.
I know these might seem like small or unimportant details, but if a company cannot get the details straight, or tell their story openly and honestly on their own website, how can you trust them to get the details of your sale straight?
Who Is Most Important To HomeVestors?
Here at FasterHouse we only have you, the seller, to think about. That is why our website is full of information for you, and only you.
When you visit the HomeVestors website only a small segment is aimed at sellers, the majority of the content is focused on potential franchise buyers, house guyers, and real estate investors.
The list of awards looks pretty impressive to begin with, until you realize they are all awards for being a good franchise to invest in and work with, there are no awards for being great house buyers.
The page dedicated to investors details how:
“HomeVestors franchisees can evaluate homes for their potential, purchase them at below market value, and even resell them to you at prices that still allow you plenty of room for renovations. Time is money, so why not make money on your real estate investments instead of driving around town searching for them?”
“Because we buy homes well below market value, we’re able to provide homes to investors at attractive prices. That allows you to quickly build a portfolio of rental properties and get on your way to your investment goals.”
Does this sound like a company who cares about you, your home, and your personal situation?
Here’s what we have covered so far
- “We Buy Ugly Houses” is a real estate investment system franchise which is sold by HomeVestors of America.
- The “ugly” in “We Buy Ugly Houses” means nothing as far as a standard for choosing which house to buy.
- The person running your local “We Buy Ugly Houses” purchased the franchise, which in 2018 costs $70,000, if they are working full time. However, the St. Louis owner has a number of businesses so if they are a part timer, running the business from their house, as a side gig, it would have cost them $27,000.
- Although HomeVestors of America has been in business since 1996, or maybe 1989, there are over 300, or 900, or 1020 franchise locations depending on which part of their website you can believe,, any one of which could have been in business for years, or for days.
- Your house could be the very first one that your local “We Buy Ugly Houses” buyer is attempting to profit from. They may have just finished their one week training course in the Ugly Houses “House Buying System.”
- The local Ugly Houses rep pays the parent company for marketing, support, and for your contact details.
- “Local professional,” as far as HomeVestors are concerned, just means the person who bought the franchise in your area. That person doesn’t have to live in the area, or have any knowledge of your neighbourhood or local community.
All of this information may leave you asking: “Is there another option if I want to sell my house fast for cash in the St.Louis area?”
Luckily for you, the answer is yes. You could call FasterHouse.
If you want to sell your house fast for cash in the St. Louis area, and you want to talk with a well established St Louis company, staffed by local professionals with many years of experience, call FasterHouse on (314) 926-0660. A member of our friendly, knowledgeable team will chat with you and find out when it would be best for us to visit you in your home for a no-obligation valuation and quote.
To provide you with further reassurance that not all “fast sale for cash” companies are the same, and that some of them are legitimate, trustworthy businesses, we used advice from the Federal Trade Commission and USA.gov to compare the St Louis branch of “We Buy Ugly Houses” with FasterHouse.
“FasterHouse” Vs. “We Buy Ugly Houses St. Louis”
Some of this comparison was made difficult because although the St. Louis We Buy Ugly Houses franchise is referred to by this name, in some public forums, this is not the official, registered business name of the franchise.
As far as we can tell, the Ugly Houses franchise for St.Louis is owned by either HomeVestors Kepalt Investment, Kepalt Investments Inc or Hampton Kepalt LLC, all of which are businesses registered at the same address, by the same person who lists themself as the franchisee for HomeVestors, Greater St. Louis.
Home sellers should always do their research before signing a contract and one of the things that the government anti-property scam websites advises is to ensure you have a direct telephone number, that is exclusive to the company you are working with, and an office address.
FasterHouse has these details readily available, We Buy Ugly Houses does not.
CompanyOffice AddressDirect Telephone Number
St. Charles,MO 63301
St. Louis Branch
Business is run from home.
Must go through parent company switchboard
Business Registration & Name
To ensure you are working with a legitimate company you can check that they are registered, and have a business licence, from the State of Missouri. FasterHouse is clearly registered, We Buy Ugly Houses Is not.
Another way to find out about companies is to look at their website. Here you should be able to see where they are located, who they employ, read testimonials from customers etc.
There are no websites available for a
St. Louis branch of We Buy Ugly Houses
nor Homevestors America nor
for any of the Steve Tlapek registered companies
Better Business Bureau Rating
The BBB is an independent organization that rates businesses according to how they treat customers. Ratings range from n/r for not rated to A+. Select businesses can earn BBB Accreditation by undergoing a thorough evaluation and upholding the BBB Accreditation Standards.
We Buy Ugly Houses No Results
Complaints on consumer sites are not always 100% reliable but they do give an idea of how you might expect a company to behave.
Pretty, Ugly, Or Pretty Ugly, It Doesn’t Matter To Us
In conclusion, some companies might give you the impression they are a national chain, with local expertise or that they only buy the less lovely lookers on the housing market, but here at FasterHouse we like to be simple, honest, and straightforward in everything we say and do.
If you decide to give us a call or contact us on the website, this is what you can expect:
- A FasterHouse team member, who is a member of our local community, will contact you and arrange a convenient time to visit the house. You will be given the name of the team member who will be coming to see you.
- We do some homework on your specific neighborhood before coming to see you.
- Our in-house buyer will walk through the house with you and will ask any questions they might have. This usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes.
- If you have any unusual circumstances or you have a particular reason you want to sell quickly our buyer can spend as much time as you need in order to understand your situation and discuss solutions that might be appropriate for you.
- Our buyer may be able to make an offer for your house on the spot, or it may take some additional research, but you will definitely receive an offer within 24 hours.
- If the offer price doesn’t work for you, no problem. You are under no obligation to sell to us. We might even be able to give you the name of someone who is better suited to help you.
- If you do want to go ahead with the sale, we’ll write up a contract, send you a copy for review and send a copy to the title company.
- The title company checks to see if any money, such as liens or a mortgage are owing and if there are, those costs will be paid off, by the title company, at closing.
- You decide when you would like the closing to happen and we will arrange to meet you at the title company.
- At the closing meeting, we bring the cash, the title company takes any money owed to pay off the mortgage etc, and you receive the rest, there and then.
The entire process can take as little as seven days or can take as long as you need to organize your move. In addition, our team members are available for you at any time.
If you are ready to discover the fastest and least stressful way to sell your home, call FasterHouse today at (314) 926-0660
One of our friendly team will give you a call, and you never need to worry if we buy ugly houses or not.