Almost a quarter of all house sales fell through at the last minute in England and Wales last year.
Moving house is usually motivated by a change of circumstance: sometimes good like landing a dream job at the other side of the country; and sometimes bad like a relationship breakdown or the threat of repossession.
Whatever the selling motivation, the result of a sale falling through is at best inconvenient, and at worst financially catastrophic.
The reason for unsuccessful sales are numerous with the top 5 causes last year according to Which? listed below:
- Buyer change of heart (34%) — buyer’s are as predictable as the British weather blowing hot and cold at the drop of a hat. There’s often no logic to a change of heart but it immediately brings the process to a halt. And then you’ve got to start all over again.
- Difficulty securing a mortgage (17%) — despite popular belief, being pre-approved for a mortgage does not actually mean that your financing is ready to go. The lender still needs to finalise details and anything from a change of circumstance to falsely filled out application forms can lead to financing being withdrawn. And that means you’ve no buyer.
- Slow progress (15%) — time waits for no man. Sometimes the process is so slow that people (on both sides of the fence) lose patience and look elsewhere (either for another buyer or another property).
- Chain breaks (13%) — most people are in a property chain and it only takes one link to break for the whole thing to come crashing down. The only way to avoid it is to sell to cash buyers or first-time buyers but on the open-market that’s often easier said than done.
- Survey issues (11%) — surveys can uncover a range of problems from small cosmetic issues to major structural jobs. If a price can’t be renegotiated in light of the issues, then buyers will often pull out and look elsewhere.
But why do things go wrong so often?
Unlike in other countries, offers are not legally binding in the UK. That means that a sale is not guaranteed until legal contacts have been exchanged.
And that’s not a quick process.
Considering that it usually takes between 3-7 months for contracts to be exchanged (when selling via an estate agent), it’s no wonder that moving house is considered more stressful than getting divorced or having a baby.
If things go wrong, then you have to start over again. For most people, speed is top of their priority list when a sale has fallen through, so what are your selling options?
- Estate Agent — they can’t guarantee a sale or a quick timeline; but what they can guarantee is ownership of the process from viewings to managing offers and progressing the sale on your behalf. Fees are high for their services though and there’s no standard amount with fees varying by 261% dependent on postcode.
- Online Agent — steer clear unless you know what you’re doing. Their fees may be less than their bricks-and-mortar counterparts but their customer service and support isn’t in the same league. It all adds up to mean that you probably won’t be moving anywhere fast.
- Property buying company — this is the only way to guarantee a sale quickly. There’s no middleman estate agent as they are the buyer so once the price is agreed then they can usually exchange within 7 days. Do your research though and choose local companies for a fairer price and increased levels of support.