Posted by Vivo_Team on October 8th, 2020

There is nothing more frustrating than a house sale falling through at the last minute, especially if an unexpected issue arises in your property chain that causes it to break and collapse. With one out of five house sales failing due to property chain problems, it’s an issue many people face. You may be new to a property chain or stuck in a sluggish one, but as specialist fast house buyers, Vivo has helped many people sell their house quickly in this situation. Here, we explain property chain terminology and share how we offer a chain free house sale alternative to help you if you’re involved in a broken property chain.

What is a property chain?

The term ‘property chain’ is used to describe the link between a series of property buyers and sellers, all of which are connected by one another’s property.

The chain starts with someone who is only buying (for example a first-time buyer) and ends with someone who is only selling (and not looking to buy). When selling your home, the preferred scenario is to be in a chain-free property sale, meaning:

  • A house is being sold by an owner who is not needing to buy a new property to move into – often referred to as a no onward chain
  • A buyer who is not needing to sell in order to buy the house – this means the property chain has a defined endpoint

A chain free property sale carries a lot less risk or uncertainty and has a much higher chance of going ahead within a reasonable timescale. Unfortunately, only 10% of all property transactions in the UK are chain free, so selling on the open market can often be a frustrating experience.

Why may a property chain break?

When buying a house in a chain, as all transactions are linked together, everything needs to go smoothly for the property chain not to break. One of the reasons that selling a house is one of the most stressful life events is that issues in the notably volatile chain often slows things down or causes a house sale to fall through. It can be as simple as a party having a change of heart about their purchase or sale, or other factors such as family issues, illness, or redundancy. Other reasons that may cause the property chain to break are:

  •  A survey unveils issues with the property such as structural problems or asbestos leading to the buyer or lender not wanting to proceed
  • A party failing to obtain a mortgage
  • A down-valuation by a lender resulting in a buyer not being able to be lent the full amount needed
  • A house seller is unable to find a property to buy and is therefore unable to continue the sale of their current house
  • Someone within the chain may simply not want to move
  • State of the marketing i.e Covid-19 may cause people to back out due to uncertainty
  • Legal paperwork has taken too long to be filled out by a legal firm and buyer loses interest
  • Change in personal circumstances i.e redundancy, illness, or divorce
  • A party being Gazumped: meaning a seller accepting a higher offer from a new buyer. In the UK, it is only after you have exchanged that an offer is legally binding, not at the negotiation stage. This detail makes Gazumping a regular occurrence
  • A party being Gazundered: meaning a buyer reduces their offer at the last minute, which may result in the seller being unable to accept and the chain breaking

What problems do broken property chains cause?

On average, it takes 3 to 4 months from a seller finding a buyer for their property to exchanging and finally completing the sale. Often a property chain breaks halfway down the line or very close to the planned exchange date. Consequently, the property must now be put back on the market, a new buyer needs to be found and the legal process needs to start from scratch with the hope that this time around all will proceed smoothly. As you can imagine, it can easily take a year or more to sell a property. However, for people either relocating for work, wanting to move to be within a catchment area of a school, or for a couple moving in together or divorcing, they need a greater degree of certainty and a clearer idea of when their sale will go through so they can plan their next move.

A break in the property chain can be costly

Furthermore, selling and buying a house can be costly over time. There are agent fees, solicitors’ costs and survey fees involved, together with the usual monthly running cost of the property (council tax, utility bills). Thus, a broken-down chain can, unfortunately, be pretty expensive and the longer your property is on the market the more it can harm your chances of finding a suitable buyer. This is because online property portals such as Rightmove share a ‘property’s history’ with their users. As a result, a property which has been advertised online for a lengthy period of time tends to be less desirable to buyers as they take the assumption that something must be wrong with the property.

Naturally a good amount of property sales, even with chains involved, do reach the finish successfully. But for those where issue arise, it can be a very stressful time.

Tips on avoiding a property chain collapse

  • If possible, try to avoid getting in a property chain in the first place, if you are a seller, consider a chain free property e.g. first time buyer or use a house buying company, this could be the fastest way to sell your home and provides a guaranteed sale once an offer is accepted.
  • Consider buying a new build. There is no upward chain with this type of property as the house is available to be bought or sold right away. You won’t need to rely on a homeowner buying a new house before closing the deal.
  • Be sure to employ experienced estate agents and conveyancing solicitors rather than using cheaper alternatives. It’s the job or the professionals to keep the chain moving, by using a well established company they will be familiar with the process and should be able to mitigate any issues that arise much quicker. Use online reviews platforms like Trustpilot to check out their digital reputation.
  • Stay on top of your finances ensuring everything is in place on your end, for example making sure your cash deposit is ready for when the time comes to exchange to assist in the process running smoothly.


People moving out of their house

How to fix property chain problems


Constant Communication 

By staying in regular contact with other people in the chain, you can manage these relationships effectively with progress checks on a regular basis and increase the chances of maintaining the property chain.


Rented Accommodation

If your seller has pulled out, consider moving into short-term rented accommodation so you can still sell your house while renting until you find another property to buy.


Bridging Loans 

Bridging loans allow you to borrow money against your current property through short-term, high-interest loans and help to bridge the gap between the sale date and completion date in a chain.


Sell your home to a Fast House Buying Company 

If your buyer has pulled out, you have the option to sell to a fast house buying company at a discounted price, within a short time frame.

How can selling to Vivo help you?

If your sale has fallen through due to a broken property chain, or your sale is not showing any signs of progress due to other parties within the chain, get in touch with Vivo for a friendly chat and see if selling to chain free house buyers could work for you.

Selling to Vivo means you are selling chain-free. We break the chain by buying your property unconditionally with our own cash. Once you accept our offer, no third party such as lenders or investors can stand in the way of the transaction going through!

Here are other benefits of selling your property to Vivo:

  • Accept our offer and your sale is guaranteed
  • We’re flexible: you choose the timescales by which you wish to receive your money and move. It’s in your hands, you’re welcome to stay in your property rent-free for a few weeks after receiving the funds to help you find your feet
  • We’re fast: we can buy your home in as little as 5 days
  • We buy with our own cash: this means there are no delays due to lenders or investors being involved.
  • We’re available 24/7, and as we’re a small company you will always be able to speak to the same person, directly.
  • We pay all fees connected to the sale, such as legal fees and surveys
  • The price we offer is the full amount you will receive, no nasty, last-minute surprises
  • We offer 85% of the estimated current market value of the property in return for a very quick, easy and guaranteed sale.

We may be the right buyer for you but if we are not, we would tell you and advise you on your next steps and we are more than happy to give you impartial advice on your situation. By buying your property, we can help you move on to the next chapter of your life. We’re here to offer an alternative to an open market sale by offering a quick and guaranteed cash sale.

Feel free to fill in the short form below to receive a no-obligation offer within a day. Or contact us toll-free on 0800 773 4922 for a chat.


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Vivo Property Buyers is the trading name for Potrell London Ltd, The Ashridge Business Centre 121 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2DJ.

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