In December 2016 alone, one third of house sales collapsed. Buyers struggling with their finances, sellers unable to find new homes or chain members getting cold feet were just a few of the reasons why. Though being in these situations can seem like the end of the world, there are various options available to you should they occur. This post will go through them.


Option 1: Contact your estate agent straight away

If the seller pulls out:

They may pull out because they were offered a higher price from another buyer, they have issues with their chain, or simply, they’ve decided not to sell. On your word, your estate agent could discover the new asking price, make a higher offer or when it’s too much, withdraw the offer.

If the buyer pulls out:

Unfortunately, this is legal if it occurs before contracts are exchanged. If this occurs afterwards, you could take the buyer to court, gaining compensation that could go toward your home. Your estate agent could also discover the reasons why the buyer pulled out, and help you come up with suitable solutions (e.g. in cases where reasons involve home improvements).

Where the buyer pulls out because they can no longer afford the house, or they offer a reduced amount (gazundering), you could lower the asking price or open a negotiation. If they generally want the house, they won’t want to lose it, especially if they are in a chain themselves and you may be able to come up with an amount that satisfies both sides. Alternatively, you could try a slightly lower offer and attach a contingency clause (for example, the buyer has 2 weeks to respond). Putting the house back on the market is another option.

If the house you want to buy falls through:

There could be similar and nearby houses available, or your estate agent may know of properties that have yet to be advertised, and so, you could end up with an even more perfect home.


Option 2: Move into rented accommodation

Though a seller pulling out can cause frustration and irritation, it could turn out for the best. Where your house has been sold, but the house you wanted to buy is no longer available, moving into rented accommodation, or in with friends or family can put you in a brilliant position. When you find another house you like, it will appeal to the seller that you won’t be waiting on the sale of your house to make a purchase, preventing another chain. This makes you a ‘hot buyer’. As stated in our previous post, ‘Renting and the Property Chain’ chain-free buyers receive a 1.3% greater discount on average than buyers still stuck in chains.


Option 3: Sell to a home buying company

In cases where you’ve bought your new house, but the buyer of your old house pulls out, you could sell the latter to a company such as Companies like these offer up to 90% of its current market value, do not charge for appraisals and guarantee to buy your home. Where the only alternative may be putting the house back on the market, this is a cheaper, quicker and less stressful option.


Option 4: Consider taking out a bridge loan

You could instead take out a bridge loan, so that you can afford both your old and new houses. Bridge loans bridge the gap between buying your new home and selling your old one, and is a good way to ensure you don’t lose out on the house you want. They can however be expensive. See our previous post, ‘The Property Chain – A Quick Guide’ for more detail.


Option 5: Recovering costs

Where the seller changes their mind, or receives a higher offer (gazumping), you could recover your costs through fee insurance or Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance. This allows you to reclaim money spent on conveyancing, home surveys and mortgage lender fees for example, which itself can be expensive. Of course, predicting whether your chain will break is impossible, but consider the loss if it does. Home Owners Alliance provide further detail on the benefits.

A successful property chain can sometimes seem like an impossible dream, but the reality, even when things do go wrong is fixable and can even turn out for the best in some cases. As everyone’s situation is different, thoroughly research your options, discuss them with your solicitor and estate agent and ensure you feel comfortable with your final choice.

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