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What to do if your house sale falls through

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Posted on: November 10th, 2017 by Vivo_Team

Living room from a house sale that has fallen through

A study by Which? found that 3 in 10 UK house sales fell through in 2016, leaving thousands of potential sellers frustrated and unsure how to proceed. This situation can be an unpleasant experience too, you may have finally found your dream house to buy or maybe you need to relocate for a new job, so a sale slipping through your grasp can be particularly stressful. After such a setback it can be difficult to find the motivation to get back in the buying and selling process, which is unsurprising considering that selling a property has been found to be one of life’s most stressful experiences. So, why do house sales falling through happen so frequently and what options do you have if you find yourself in this situation?

Unlike in other countries, offers are not legally binding in the UK. A sale is only guaranteed once you have exchanged contacts which generally tends to be 3 months after you have accepted the offer. A lot can happen during this time for a sale to fall through. To begin, it’s important to understand that house sales on the open market are often part of a property chain. When an individual is looking to buy a property it’s likely that they’re selling their current home at the same time too. More often than not, the buyer’s ability to purchase your house will depend on whether they can find a buyer for their own house, and this pattern can repeat itself along an extensive property chain. There are exceptions to the chain, such as first-time buyers (who do not need to sell a property first) or sellers that are not looking to buy again (no-onward chain) but unfortunately, there’s still a lot that can go wrong. One of the biggest reasons for a house sale falling through is issues with properties within your chain, for example, someone no longer wanting or being able to carry out a purchase, which then causes knock-on effects that can directly damage the progress of your sale. This is frustrating as situations out of your control can impact your sale and can leave you feeling helpless. Other common situations that can result in a collapse of a sale include:

As frustrating as all of these circumstances are, it’s important to understand that there are no guarantees in the open market. It’s possible for a buyer or seller to pull out at any time until contracts are exchanged. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid the open market, but knowing the best available options for selling your home will help you make an informed decision and hopefully prevent your sale from falling through.

Option 1 – Using an estate agent

The traditional way of selling a property involves using an estate agent to market your property. Thus, if your house sale falls through at the last minute, having an estate agent to handle the process can save you a lot of trouble, as well as time. However, using their services comes with its associated costs and fees, with an average fee being 1.3% of the selling price. Whether you decide to use an estate agent should depend on your personal situation; does paying for this service suit your needs, or does this process need to be quick due to the plans you’ve set in motion? If you have time to spare and don’t mind paying for an estate agent’s services, maybe this option is for you.

If you’re unsure, why don’t you take our quiz to see which option is best for you?

Option 2 – Selling your home privately

If you feel that paying for the services of an estate agent doesn’t suit you, then you could consider the option of selling your house privately. It can seem daunting at first but this route is becoming more popular with homeowners over time. But where do you start? Those keen on selling their house privately should be motivated and ready to take responsibility for numerous processes and essentially become their very own estate agent. To begin, the property will need to be valued, using the selling price of other similar properties as a benchmark. From here the property will need to be advertised and prepared for viewings. Once these steps have been taken and you have found a buyer for your property you should instruct your solicitor to handle the legal side of things, after which an offer can be accepted. Sounds like a lot? This option does require considerable attention which may put some people off, however, if you have the time and motivation, selling your house privately can save you thousands in fees. For more information on selling your house via this method, you can visit Vivo’s guide on private house sales.

Option 3 – Using a fast property buying company

A fast property buying company can be useful in a variety of situations from inheriting a property to relocation for example, but they’re particularly handy when a house sale falls through. Finding a new buyer on the open market can be time consuming and comes with many insecurities resulting in potentially losing out on the opportunity to buy your new dream house. This is where a fast property buying company can offer an alternative approach. Using this option it’s possible to sell your home within 7 days, without the hassle of dealing with estate agents or solicitors.

Vivo are the best rated fast property buyer on Trustpilot and can buy your home in 3 simple steps. To get an offer for your house within 24 hours you can complete our quick form or give us a call. After this, we’ll arrange and pay for a valuation of the property to be conducted by an independent RICS surveyor. Using the official survey and our research helps us make sure that the price we’ve arrived at is fair and reasonable for both of us. Following the survey results we’ll make a formal offer and, if accepted, your sale is guaranteed, giving you peace of mind so you can start planning for the future.

For more information regarding selling your property or Vivo’s services please see our How it works pages or check out our blog.


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