If you have ever bought or sold a property then it’s likely you will have experienced a property chain.

Property chains—a situation where a series of buyers and sellers are all linked together—are often fraught with problems and can cause great of stress for many people.

Here, we take a look at some of the common problems with property chains and what you can do to solve them.

What is a property chain?

Property chains occur when there are a series of buyers and sellers linked together and relying on each other to either sell or buy their respective houses. They often start with a first time buyer or landlord and end with an empty house or someone selling a second home. In the middle of the two, there can potentially be up to eight or nine other people all buying and selling property.

If one person in the chain gets cold feet about the property they are buying or selling and pulls out it can mean delays and problems for everyone else. This can be particularly problematic if it happens later in the process and some people in the chain need to move by a certain date—perhaps because they have given notice on a rented property or they are relocating for work.

What is a slow moving property chain and what can you do about it?

A slow-moving property chain is exactly that—a series of property sales and purchases that aren’t progressing as quickly as expected. There are a number of reasons as to why this could be; surveys taking longer than expected, buyers or sellers not returning paperwork promptly, solicitors on holiday, or a combination of all these things.

To help keep your property chain moving, here are some pro-active things you can do before it gets to a later stage:

  • Use email where possible instead of posting letters
  • Reply to everything promptly
  • Always answer your phone or call back your estate agent or solicitor quickly
  • Get a solicitor and all your finances organised before making an offer on a property
  • Keep in regular contact with your estate agent and solicitor
  • If things are moving slowly ask your estate agent or solicitor if they can speak to the other parties in the chain to find out what’s going on
  • Provisionally book removal companies - they can book up quickly and trying to find one close to your moving date could delay things
  • Be flexible on moving dates
  • If you have any moving deadlines let everyone know as early as possible

What do do if someone pulls out of a property sale in your chain

If someone pulls out of buying your property then it is more than likely going to result in delays for your move and for everyone else in your chain. These delays could end up costing everyone money. The quickest fix is to ask your estate agent or solicitor to find out the reason for their change of mind and see if you can find a solution to keep the sale going ahead.

If they are intent on leaving the property chain then there are a few options available to you:

  • Put the property back on the market and hope someone quickly puts in an offer who is ready to proceed
  • Auction your property—beware, there can be many pitfalls with this method and there are no guarantees your property will sell
  • Consider a bridging loan where you get a short-term loan to allow you to continue with the purchase of your new property while you try to find a buyer for your current property. This can be very high risk and costly
  • Sell your property to a cash property buyer. These companies guarantee to buy your property for cash, quickly. However, they will probably pay less than the market price. Instead of absorbing all this cost yourself you could ask your solicitor or estate agent to contact the other people involved in the chain and ask if they will pay towards some of the difference to speed up the process. This is probably the quickest solution

If a buyer or seller pulls out elsewhere in the chain and the decision directly affects your position, you could offer via your estate agent or solicitor to absorb some of the cost if they decide to use a cash property buyer to get the chain moving again.

Where can I find a cash property buyer?

Reader’s Digest has partnered with trusted cash property buyers House Buy Fast to form Reader’s Digest Property. If you would like to find out more about we can help when a property chain has broken down—or for any other type of house purchase—then please call us on 0800 433 7979 or fill out the form below.

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