What to do if your house sale falls through

If your house sale falls through before completion, the consequences are far reaching. It’s not just upsetting, it can also cost you a great deal of time and money.

When you’ve found your dream property, the last thing you want to think about is the prospect that your sale may fall through but, unfortunately, a surprisingly high number of people experience a failed property sale each year.

Man's house sale fallen through

How many house sales fall through in the UK?

In 2023, 35.1% of property sales fell through before completion in the UK.

Most common reasons why house sales fall through before completion

There can be many different reasons why a house sale falls through. Over the last two years, the most common reasons have included:

  • The buyer tried to reduce their offer after a sale had been agreed
  • The buyer got cold feet and pulled out of the sale
  • The property chain collapsed
  • The buyer or seller pulled out because they felt the sale was not progressing quickly enough
  • The buyer had difficulty getting a mortgage
  • The buyer was gazumped
  • Something found in the property survey caused the buyer to pull out of the sale

What percentage of home sales fall through after inspection?

Around 12% of all property sales fall through because of something found during a property survey or inspection.

How can I stop my house sale falling through?

A large proportion of collapsed property sales will, unfortunately, be completely beyond the control of the home seller. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of your sale falling through.

Ensure your buyers are serious and in a proceedable position

A proactive estate agent should gather in-depth information from any prospective buyers. This should include details about their personal circumstances and their reason for moving. Your estate agent should also find out whether they’re in a property chain and whether they have an Agreement in Principle from a mortgage lender. This information will show you whether they are serious buyers, how motivated they are to move and whether they have the finances in place to be able to progress the sale. If your estate agent is not gathering this information for you, ensure you ask them to do so. It will enable you to go into the sales process well-prepared and help you choose between buyers if you receive multiple offers.

Minimise the length of your property chain

Property chain collapse is often a major factor when a house sale falls through. The longer your chain, the more at risk your house move is. Chain-free buyers and sellers are particularly desirable due to the impact a property chain has on the likely success of a property sale.

If you’re stuck in a lengthy property chain, you may want to consider options to make yourself chain-free. You could choose to sell your current property and move into rented accommodation before purchasing your next property. Alternatively, you may want to explore using the services of a professional home buying company. Either of these options would result in you being a chain-free buyer.

Ensure you have a proactive estate agent and solicitor

Currently, around 8% of property sales fall through because the buyer or seller feel the sale is not progressing quickly enough. Ensuring your buyer has their finances lined up before accepting an offer will have a big impact on this, as it is often the mortgage process that holds up a property sale. It is also important that you hire a proactive estate agent and solicitor who will manage the progression of the sale and keep it moving forward at a good pace.

Price your property competitively

If you want to stop your buyer getting cold feet, it’s important that your property is priced competitively. Overprice it and you may find that they continue to keep an eye out for a better prospect, even after a sale has been agreed.

Ensure you address any maintenance tasks before marketing your property

It’s important to address any outstanding property maintenance tasks or potential areas of concern before putting your property on the market. Issues identified at survey can be tricky to resolve and pose a significant risk to the success of the sale.

What are my options if my property sale has fallen through? 

If your property sale has fallen through, you have a few different options.

  1. Put your property straight back onto the market in an attempt to preserve any onward move
  2. Ask your estate agent to contact anyone who previously made an offer on your property to see whether they are still interested
  3. Consider other ways to sell that would allow you to continue with your onward move. This is the situation Mrs Hughes found herself in. You can read more about her story here.

What can I do if my house sale keeps falling through?

If your house sale has fallen through more than once, it’s important to get feedback and find out what’s causing the agreed sales to collapse. It may be a coincidence and purely bad luck that you’ve experienced more than one failed sale, but it could also be that there’s a bigger issue that needs addressing.

Start by meeting with your estate agent to discuss the failed sales and put together a plan to prevent any future sales falling through. Are the sales collapsing at the same point in the sale process, or at different points? If your buyers pulled out of the sale voluntarily, what reasons did they give?

Will I lose my new home if my house sale falls through at the last minute? 

The later in the sale process your house sale falls through, the more distressing it is likely to be. If your house sale falls through at the last minute, it’s unlikely that remarketing your property will provide a quick enough sale to move forward with your onward move.

If you’re determined that you don’t want to lose out on your new home, a genuine cash home buying company may offer a solution. Because a genuine cash home buyer will purchase with their own funds, they should be able to complete the purchase of your property in as little as 7 days. A genuine cash home buyer will pay less than market value, so it won’t be the right option for everyone, but it would be your only way of guaranteeing a sale quick enough to save your onward move.

Do solicitors charge if house sale falls through?

If your house sale falls through, your solicitor will have to charge for any work already completed. How much you end up having to pay your solicitor will depend on how far along the house selling process you are.

Can you sue if house sale falls through?

If contracts have already been exchanged, you are entitled to take legal action to compensate you for the financial cost of the failed house sale. If your house sale falls through before exchange of contracts, the sale is not yet legally binding and therefore you have no legal grounds for recourse or compensation.

When selling a property, a failed house sale is always upsetting. If you’re right at the start of the sale process, you may simply be able to remarket your property and proceed with your onward purchase without too much disruption. If you’re further along in the process, your failed sale will have more of an impact both in terms of the implications for your onward move and your financial loss.

What are my other options?

If your house sale has fallen through and you can’t face starting the whole process again, there are other ways you can achieve a quick sale.

Quick Move Now is the UK’s original and largest property buying company. Since 1998, we have directly purchased over 6,000 properties.

We can provide you with a free, no-obligation cash offer. We even pay your legal fees and can legally complete the sale in as little as 7 days if required.

Call us today on 0800 068 3366 or complete our online form.

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