Buying or selling a home can be a stressful and emotional experience. When you are in a chain, this can be made worse as you may be concerned about the potential for your transaction to fall through. But what exactly is a chain and what do you need to know when buying or selling your home?
A property chain is a succession of linked house purchases or sales. When you are in a chain, buying or selling your house depends on the purchases either side of your transaction and the speed and position of those involved in the chain.
There is no limit to the number of people who can be involved in a chain. However, the longer it is, the riskier the situation may be.
Potential problems with a chain
Property sales and purchases can and do break down. So, the more people in your chain, the more likely it is that something might go wrong. It is important to note that may chains do complete successfully however there are additional challenges.
Common issues with a chain include:
- Problems being picked up that lead to an unfavourable building or valuation survey
- Changing personal circumstances (e.g. redundancy, illness etc.)
- Leasehold issues (e.g. length or leasehold or unexpectedly high charges)
- A mortgage falling through
- Where a buyer or seller changes their mind
- Overly long delays
- Where a seller gets a better offer.
In any of these instances, one party could withdraw their offer or decide to take their property off the market. This could result in the whole chain collapsing. Even where a chain doesn’t collapse, unforeseen issues can cause lengthy delays as everyone waits for the slowest link to catch up.
Managing a property chain
Some agents will advertise that a home is being sold chain-free and this can be an appealing option. New builds, for example, are chain-free options.
Similarly, first-time buyers can be attractive purchasers as they do not have to wait for an existing home to be sold. It is important however that you check with the agent that this is the case often this can be too good to be true. There are a number of ways that you help manage a chain. These are:
- Speeding up the process by instructing your conveyancer and getting your paperwork and mortgage in place ASAP
- Moving into rented accommodation or with family, to make you a chain-free buyer
- Keeping in regular contact with your conveyancer and estate agent to ensure that everyone knows what is happening.
- Find out the details from the agent of your chain and let your conveyancer know so they can assist.