I want to sell my house, but how do I choose the right buyer?

sell my house

I’m trying to sell my house – how do I find a reliable buyer?


If you are thinking ‘I need sell my house’? You’re in luck, Quick Move Now has provided a guide to help you determine the likelihood of a potential buyer completing on the purchase of your property. Although it is difficult to be 100% certain that a house sale will complete, we can help you to make the most accurate judgement possible and stand you in good stead for avoiding disappointing sale fall throughs:

Which buyers are most likely to complete on a house purchase?

Choosing a cash buyer gives you a high chance of sale completion because funding for a purchase is in place without reliance on mortgage finance.

Chainless buyers also give you faith in a sale because they aren’t dependent on other property completions in order to facilitate their purchase.

Top tip: if a potential buyer says they are using cash to purchase, ask for proof of funds (for example a solicitor’s letter or bank statement) to make sure they can deliver what they promise. Seeing proof of funds gives you confidence that the likelihood of a sale completing is high. Remember, money in ISAs or bonds may not be readily accessible so be sure to check with your buyer that their money is free for investment.

Unfortunately, cash and chainless buyers are hard to come by – and to complicate the matter further, chainless buyers can need a mortgage and cash buyers can be in a chain! So, when mortgages and chains are involved, how do you work out whether a sale looks promising or whether it is destined to fall through?

If a potential buyer is reliant on mortgage finance, how do I work out the likelihood of a house sale completing?

Find out which mortgage lender a potential buyer is using and carry out some research:

  • Has this lender got a good reputation? Is it one of the most reputable lenders (such as Abbey, Nationwide, Barclays or Halifax) or is it a smaller establishment?
  • Does this lender specialise in providing mortgages for people in similar positions to your prospective buyer? For example, if your buyer is a landlord looking to increase their rental portfolio, the ideal mortgage lender would be one that is offering good rates on buy-to-let mortgages and not shying away from lending to this type of person.

The better a lender’s reputation and the more suitable its service is for your buyer, the higher the likelihood of a sale completing. If your buyer is using one of the most well-known, established lenders, they must have met strict criteria (such as having a good credit rating) in order to be eligible for borrowing money so a successful sale is more likely than if other lenders are being used.

Handy hint: an agreement in principle from a lender doesn’t constitute guaranteed funding and thus reduces the chances of a sale completing.

Make sure your buyer has a full mortgage offer before agreeing to and moving forward with a sale. Lenders can pull finance at any point up until completion so checking that your buyer has an offer won’t eliminate the chance of fall through, but it will help you to assess the chances of completion – with a mortgage offer as opposed to an agreement in principle, there is a higher chance of a successful house sale because a buyer is further along the mortgage application process and has passed the initial stages.

If a potential buyer is in a chain, how do I work out the likelihood of a house sale completing?

Ask your estate agent as many questions as you can:

  • How many buyers are in the chain so far? What situations are these buyers in? Are they cash buyers or do they require mortgages? How far along the mortgage process are they?
  • Which solicitors are being employed? Are they proactive?
  • If I accept the offer in question, will you be able to provide me with regular updates on the progress of the sale?

The shorter a property selling chain is, the higher the chance that a property sale will complete so studying the length of a chain and the situation of buyers in that chain will give you an idea of whether it is likely that all sales will come together or not. The more proactive solicitors and estate agents are, the more chance there is that paperwork will be up-together, potential problems in a chain will be solved and your planned sale will result in completion

Insider’s information: it is not always the buyer who makes the highest offer that is in the strongest position to follow through with the purchase your property. Accepting a high offer from a person very unlikely to complete on a property purchase will cost you time spent trying to affect the sale, then time spent trying to find another buyer if it falters. If the market (and therefore your property value) depreciates within that timeframe, you will lose money too. Weigh offer amounts up against likelihood of sale completion to ascertain whether an offer will give you a good chance of achieving the outcome you need.

So, ask us again

how do I choose a reliable buyer so that I can sell my house?

The answer is, even though house sales aren’t a case of black and white and the quirks of property selling make it impossible to prepare for every eventuality, there are ways for you to gain useful insight into whether a potential sale is likely to complete or not. We hope that using this guide will help you to judge whether your prospective purchaser is likely to turn into a sale success!

This content was written by Quick Move Now
Published on 11th July 2012
Last updated on 20th April 2017

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