What is a property chain?

There are few things in life as stressful as a property chain when buying or selling a house. 

Unfortunately, chain issues affect a significant number of house sales and cause many sales to fall through before completion.  Even sales that do go through successfully often experience frustrating and unnecessary delays as a result of chain hold-ups.

House for sale in a property chain

What is a property chain when buying a house?

A property chain is a series of linked house sales and purchases.

If you are buying a house, you will often need to sell your current property to fund the next. The person you’re buying from is also likely to be buying another property.  This is the property chain.

Unless you’re selling your house to a first-time buyer or buying your new home from someone who is stepping off the property ladder (perhaps they are moving into rented accommodation or you are buying a property that has been inherited by the current owner), you will most likely be caught up in a chain.

What does chain-free mean when buying a house?

A ‘chain-free property’ means the sale is not connected to the purchase of another property. This means the seller will not hold up your purchase.

You often hear this terminology in property marketing. That’s because a chain-free property transaction is highly desirable. It’s likely to make a big difference to the speed and success of the property purchase.

Can you avoid getting into a chain?

Buying a house with a chain can be complicated and uncertain, yet with only a small number of property transactions in the UK being chain-free, it is incredibly common. 

You can make yourself chain-free by selling your property and moving to rented accommodation before you purchase another, or by selling to a professional home buying company.   

Selling your property to a professional home buying company like Quick Move Now can take a lot of the hassle and uncertainty out of selling a property, leaving you to purchase your next property as a chain-free buyer. You can also time the sale to fit in with the purchase of your new property, meaning there’s no need to endure the added hassle and cost of renting a property before you move into your new home. If you are interested in finding out how much Quick Move Now would offer to buy your property directly, call our friendly team today on 0800 086 3366 or simply complete our online form to receive a free cash offer today.

Putting yourself in a chain-free position when buying or selling a property will not only reduce the chances of a chain collapsing and speed up your purchase, it will also give you better negotiating power when making an offer on your next property.

Why do chains sometimes collapse?

Any property sale or purchase that is part of a chain is precarious.

Buyers and sellers pull out of a sale for a wide variety of reasons, but when you’re part of a chain, someone pulling out of the sale – even several steps above or below you – can jeopardise your sale.

Ultimately, the more properties in the chain, the more opportunity there is for someone to pull out and disrupt the entire process for all involved.  Many estate agents will avoid talking about failed sales, but around one-in-three property sales will fall through before completion.

Common reasons for chain collapse include:

  • Difficulty getting a mortgage
  • Issues identified in a property survey
  • Slow progress on a house sale
  • Buyer or seller tries to renegotiate after a sale has been agreed
  • Buyer or seller simply changes their mind about proceeding with the move

What are the implications if my chain breaks?

When a house chain breaks, it puts every sale in the chain in jeopardy.  If you find yourself in a chain-break situation, your property sale and purchase may still be salvageable. To keep your move on track, the lost party will need to be replaced quickly. If that’s not possible, you may need to start the property sale and purchase process all over again.

What can you do to keep your chain moving?

Communication is very important when you’re trying to keep your chain moving and minimise the probability of it collapsing.  It’s important to respond quickly to any queries from your solicitor. You should also keep in regular contact with both your buyer and seller, via your solicitor, about how their sale and purchase are progressing.

Average property chain length

There is no official data on the number of properties in the average chain, but it will be a minimum of three, and can go into double figures.

How many property sales fall through?

It is estimated that 67% of property sales are part of a chain and around one-in-three property sales will fall through before completion.

What to do when a chain breaks

If your property sale has fallen through, either because your buyer has pulled out or because there has been a collapse further down the chain, and you’re determined not to lose the property you’re buying, there are things you can do.

Firstly, make contact with the owner of the property you are buying and explain the situation. Make it clear that you are still very keen to continue with the purchase of their property.

Once you’ve reassured the owners, you’ll need to try to secure another sale for your property as quickly as possible. You have a couple of options:

  1. Relist your property with an estate agent.  Pricing the property very competitively should help to attract a buyer quickly.  However, it is important to keep in mind that it will take a minimum of 2-3 months to sell a house from the point of accepting an offer. It won’t be an overly quick process and there is a risk of the sale falling through for a second time.
  2. Use a quick sale company. A genuine home buying company, with their own cash funds to buy your property, will be able to offer you a guaranteed sale in as little as a week.  Any genuine company will pay less than market value, so you’ll need to be able to afford to accept a lower price for your property, but in return you’ll be able to time the sale of your property to fit with your onward move, and your purchase needn’t face any delays as a result of the chain collapse.

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Beth Lane

Beth Lane

As an integral part of the marketing team, Beth is responsible for creating Quick Move Now’s external communications and dealing with national and regional press enquiries.

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