If you aren’t buying your first home or a new development, chances are you’re in a chain. Often, this is one of the most difficult parts of buying a house, involving perfect strangers and factors outside of your control. It’s unpredictable and can, therefore, cause additional stress in what is already a period of high pressure.
A property chain can cause major delays on the time it takes to complete on a property, and in the worst-case scenario, it can even cause sales to fall through. So, how can you ensure your sale on track and you don’t fall trap to the ‘curse of the chain’ so commonly associated with the process? Our Seymours team are on hand to offer a helping hand! As the go-to Surrey estate agents, we’ve expertly navigated property chains to secure our clients the final sale.
What is a property chain?
Property chains occur when a string of buyers and sellers are linked together; simply put, each person’s sale or purchase depends on the transaction of the others – a domino effect.
This usually means a property buyer must wait until their existing home is sold before they can use the proceeds to complete their purchase. On the other hand, a property-seller can only complete the transaction after their buyer successfully sells the house they’re vacating. As a result, housing chains must all be finalised on a single day, known as ‘completion day’.
So, what would a simple chain look like? Four links may look something like the following:
Daniel buys Anna’s house, Anna uses the money from this transaction to buy John’s home and finally, John uses the proceeds from his sale to purchase Emily’s house.
Daniel (start of chain) → Anna (link) → John (link) → Emily (end of chain).
As you can see, even first-time buyers can find themselves in a property chain! And, whilst typically the shorter in length, the better as you rely on fewer individuals, this doesn’t guarantee a smooth transaction as there are several other factors outside of your control. In addition to the vendor, each property will usually also have an estate agent, legal firm, surveyor and mortgage lender attached to it – there can easily be dozens of people involved in any one chain! So, if one person forgets to sign a document or misses a phone call, the whole chain could suffer as a result.
Remember, the chain will only be able to progress at the pace of the slowest link. The struggle is identifying who that is and encouraging them to move forward to the next stage.
Why are house chains so difficult?
Did you know roughly 3 in 10 people have experienced a property purchase falling through?
And, the reason? Often, these fall-throughs were related to an issue within the sale link – typically because an individual’s sale had fallen through forcing them to pull out, or the seller had pulled out because the process was taking too long. However, there are several other reasons that may cause an issue:
- A buyer or seller may change their mind
- A buyer or seller has a change in situation (loses a job, splits with a partner, falls ill etc.)
- A buyer can’t get a mortgage loan to match the offer they made
- A legal firm takes too long to process necessary paperwork or fails to chase up customers
- A survey reveals problems with a property
If you’re selling a property, it’s crucial you work with an estate agent that will vet potential buyers to reduce the risk of one of these scenarios happening to you.
Managing a property chain with Surrey estate agents, Seymours
The first step is to gather as much information as possible, particularly relating to your chain. By doing so, you’ll be able to calculate how probable it is your purchase/sale will be successful. When selling your home, you’ll want to work with an estate agent that can build strong relationships with other links as you’ll be more likely to gather the valuable information needed to identify where there may be any potential weak connections. A good estate agent will check each link in the chain on a weekly or fortnightly basis. So, what do you need to find out?
- How many other properties are involved in the chain
- What the status of all the vendors is (i.e. have they all found somewhere to buy?)
- What the proposed times are for moving
- If they require a mortgage and if this has been approved
- Any obvious issues that may prevent progression such as second thoughts or job prospects
Effective communication is an absolute must for any housing sale but is particularly important when there are more than two parties involved. Make sure, once terms have been agreed, that you have a timeline for the exchange and agreed completion day that everyone is working towards. Work with your estate agent and solicitor to ensure all paperwork is completed as soon as provided and schedule regular updates to make sure you aren’t the one holding things up!
Not all firms can guarantee consistent communication and often as a client you may feel you have to take the lead, which only adds to the overall stress of the situation. Here at Seymours, we will notify you of any changes in the status of your property and proactively manage the process, stepping in should there be an obstacle. Our team have the expertise and experience to smoothly handle any potential issues, minimising the risk of your sale falling through.
Keeping your part of the chain moving
Other than hiring an experienced estate agent, there are a few additional tips our team have compiled that can ensure you stay on track. Whilst, of course, there are other factors outside of your control, keeping on top of your own link will allow you to avoid unnecessary stress:
- Get your finances in place early, especially cash for your deposit at the time of exchange
- Keep copies of all your documents to hand in case you need them, take notes from conversations and keep these on file too
- Be prompt with your responses
- Deliver important documents by hand, courier or special delivery
- Agreeing dates with your agent and solicitor, and ensuring you stick to them
- Keep copies of your service providers’ contact details at work, as well as at home, in case you need to contact them urgently
Remember, whilst it can be demoralising if a link in your property chain does fall through, this isn’t the end to buying or selling a property. Likewise, slow responses or minor delays are natural and sometimes unavoidable so don’t lose all hope should you face some turbulence along the way.
Avoiding a chain when selling your house
If the thought of entering into a chain keeps you up at night, there are certain steps you can take to avoid this. If you already have a home to move into and are not in a hurry to sell, you could specifically choose a buyer that isn’t locked into a chain. This could, however, mean accepting a slightly lower offer on your property, but you may decide this is a worthwhile settlement as it offers you more peace of mind.
If you’re buying and selling, then you may want to consider temporarily moving into rented accommodation after selling your current property in preparation for buying. A chain-free buyer is often far more appealing to those selling their homes and may ultimately put you in a stronger position to secure your next home.
Why choose Seymours
Entering a chain can seem daunting, particularly if you are faced with a seemingly complicated chain with multiple links. There are ways to avoid it, but this shouldn’t put you off should you find your dream home. To avoid unnecessary stress and uncertainty, it’s essential you work with an established Surrey estate agent that has the experience to expertly guide you through the process. They’ll be able to successfully build relationships with the other vendors involved in the chain and will proactively manage the overall sale – communication is key and if you notice your estate agent is not prompt with their response when you first enter into the process, this may be an indication of issues to come.
Our Seymours team have nearly 30 years of experience selling properties within the area.
Sell your property with the experts today: choose Seymours Estate Agents.
If you’re looking for free market advice or want to sell your home with an estate agency you can trust, get in touch with the team at Seymours using this contact form, or call us at one of our 19 dedicated branches here.