Coping with property chains


If you're a cash buyer, a first time buyer or are buying a new build, probate or repossession property, you've just avoided one of the most painful parts of moving house: the property chain.

Those who have suffered from a problematic chain before will know the risks:

  • Losing out on a property you love because your buyer fell through
  • Wasted solicitor, surveyor and mortgage booking costs for an aborted transaction
  • The heartache and uncertainty of a prolonged house moving process
  • The weak negotiating position that it can put you in

When moving house, the sale of every property depends on the next one in the chain, so if one property can't proceed, no one else can either. Some statistics put the average fall-through rate at around one transaction in three or four, with survey problems and mortgage companies refusing to lend being two of the most common issues.

Unsurprisingly, estate agents like a nice short chain. Even where the chain doesn't break, the longer the chain (more parties being involved), the more complex the conveyancing process will be.

The benefits of having a chain free buyer are well understood and appreciated by sellers - and those with nothing to sell will always have a bit of negotiating edge as a result.

Properties for sale with no chain are a massive plus for buyers too though, giving them greater confidence that their purchase will complete successfully - and with a quicker, smoother and less stressful conveyancing process.

Even if your chain does fall apart, it pays to be patient and honest with everyone involved. It's sometimes possible (beneficial even) for other parties in the chain to be flexible in helping you to mend the break.

Having a diligent agent who carefully verifies the status of a buyer then pro-actively manages the chain through to completion helps too of course.