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One of the most worrying aspects of selling a property is being in a chain, with everyone on edge until the exchange of contracts. It’s such a topic of conversation that Open Property Group has filmed its thoughts on the matter here:

If you’re new to the selling process or haven’t moved for some time, you may also find our blog guide useful but if you still have any questions, feel free to contact us.

What is a property chain?

A property chain is a line of buyers and sellers who depend on one another for their home move to progress successfully. The bottom of the chain will usually be a first-time buyer, a cash purchaser or a property investor – someone who hasn’t got a property to sell.

The top of the chain could be a seller moving into rented accommodation or even a probate property. Those in the middle usually have a property to sell in order to purchase an onwards property – something they need to do at the same time.

Chains can be short – as many as two parties – or very long and complicated to hold together. If there are delays or a chain collapses, potentially everyone could lose their buyer, seller or even both – a financially and mentally draining situation.

Why do property chains break?

In our experience from buying and selling thousands of properties, over 1 in 3 sales fall through and people will pull out of a transaction for a variety of reasons.

We know one of the most common is being unable to secure a mortgage, even if an ‘offer in principle’ has been secured. It’s an issue compounded by the fact that almost 50%* of properties under offer in 2020 were down-valued by surveyors as part of the mortgage process – that’s when the surveyor tells the lender that the property is not worth the sale price agreed, and the home loan is subsequently withdrawn.

Other reasons why a chain may break down include:-

  • The buyer finding an alternative property to purchase
  • The seller withdrawing their property for sale
  • An unforeseen or a sudden change in circumstances
  • A buyer withdrawing due to unfavourable survey results
  • The buyers or sellers separating during the transaction
  • Long delays that jeopardise moving plans

My chain has collapsed – what are the next steps?

If it’s a seller who has withdrawn, the buyer will need to look for another property to putchase and restart the offers and legal process. If a buyer backs out, the vendor will need to sell property fast to stabilise the chain, with going back onto the market a possible option.

There will be immense pressure to move quickly in either situation and even the very best High Street estate agent can’t guarantee success. Even if you do sell or buy again quickly, you might find yourself in a new and even more complex chain! The ideal replacement buyer when a chain collapses is a cash buyer who can move without delay.

How can I avoid being in a chain?

You may have seen property listed as ‘chain free’ - these homes present the simplest and most stress-free transaction as there’s no one else involved, other than the immediate buyer and seller. Open Property Group offers a chain free situation to sellers keen to avoid a chain below them. We are professional cash buyers and the chain starts with us. Once our offer is made and accepted, we won’t withdraw or delay.

Can you rescue my chain?

If a link in your chain has collapsed, Open Property Group can step in and become a guaranteed buyer with very short notice. In fact, we offer exchange and completion within seven working days – ideal for those whose buyer has withdrawn just as contracts are about to be exchanged. Start a new sale quickly by requesting a cash offer here.

*Statistics from Benham and Reeves, September 2021

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