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What are the main ways a property sale can fall through?

Buying or selling a house is a lengthy and occasionally unpredictable process. It involves numerous steps, from listing the property and finding a buyer to navigating the complex legal processes.

Unfortunately, not all property sales reach completion, and there are several common reasons why they can fall through.

Here are the main ways a property sale can fall through and the steps you can take to avoid them.

The buyer changes their mind

Buying a house is a huge decision which takes a long time to finalise, so this leaves buyers plenty of opportunity to change their minds. The longer it takes to exchange contracts, the more chance there is for things to go wrong.

How to avoid this:

  • Keep things moving by maintaining regular contact with your conveyancing solicitor, requesting updates, and promptly replying to any queries.
  • Sellers should send over any relevant documents early in the process such as the TA6 process to avoid delays.
  • It’s highly advisable for buyers to arrange searches, surveys and a mortgage agreement as soon as possible.

The seller receives a higher offer

‘Gazumping’ is when another party submits a higher offer on the house while you’re in the process of buying it. If the higher offer is accepted, this puts the buyer back to square one as the seller has every right to accept the higher offer before the exchange of contracts.

How to avoid gazumping:

  • Keep the ball rolling towards the exchange of contracts by being communicative and quick to respond. Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement is legally binding.
  • You can request that the house be taken off the market once your offer is accepted. Though the seller does not have to accept, if they do, this will reduce the home’s exposure to other buyers.
  • Consider taking out home buyer protection insurance to protect yourself from any out of pocket expenses from gazumping.

The buyer can’t get a mortgage

Issues with mortgages can vary. For example, offers may expire before the purchase has managed to reach completion, or circumstances may change for the buyer whereby they can no longer borrow the amount that they need.

This is why it’s important to obtain a mortgage agreement in principle before making an offer. If you’re a seller, be on the lookout for buyers who already have an agreement lined up as this can offer some extra reassurance.

How to avoid mortgage problems:

  • Once the offer is accepted, buyers should arrange for their mortgage in principle to be turned into a formal mortgage offer as soon as possible.
  • Buyers should avoid making any major life changes that will impact their finances such as credit cards or a new job, as this can affect borrowing power.
  • Use a mortgage broker. They can guide you towards the most suitable deal and offer tailored advice. This will greatly improve your chances of having your application approved.

Related: Should I use a mortgage broker?

Conveyancing delays

Since the conveyancing process is lengthy and complicated, conveyancing delays are common but the situation worsens when both parties fail to be as responsive as they should be.

Conveyancing delays also occur in more complex scenarios such as divorce cases, probate properties or leasehold properties.

How to avoid conveyancing delays:

  • Both buyers and sellers should instruct a conveyancing solicitor as soon as possible and provide them with all the necessary paperwork and information from the get-go.
  • When selecting a solicitor, choose wisely based on reviews and reputation, rather than just fees. It is vital to the process that you have a good conveyancing solicitor on your side as this could be the difference between a smooth process and a complicated one.
  • If you aren’t happy with your conveyancing solicitor, don’t wait until it’s too late to switch services. Early signs like poor communication should be taken seriously.

Find out more about conveyancing

The buyer can’t sell their own property

A broken property chain is a situation that occurs during the process of buying and selling, typically in a chain of linked transactions. It happens when one of the buyers or sellers in the chain is unable to proceed with the transaction, causing a disruption in the sequence of property sales.

This disruption can lead to the collapse or delay of multiple property transactions in the chain, often resulting in the sale falling through for various parties involved.

How to avoid chain breaks:

  • Make sure you’re aware of the extent of the chain before entering a transaction.
  • Enlist a good estate agent and conveyancing solicitor to help keep the chain moving.
  • Sellers can hold out for a chain-free buyer if they prefer, such as a first-time buyer or a cash buyer.

The buyer drops their offer at the last minute

‘Gazundering’ is a term used to describe a situation where a buyer, who has previously made an offer to purchase a property at an agreed-upon price, lowers their offer just before the exchange of contracts or completion of the sale.

This practice is typically seen as a tactic used by buyers to negotiate a lower price for the property shortly before the sale is finalised.

How to avoid gazundering:

  • Set a reserve price.
  • Request a non-refundable deposit from the buyer upon acceptance of the offer.
  • Try to ensure that the sale proceeds swiftly to reduce the opportunity of negotiation.
  • Be transparent and realistic when negotiating to minimise the likelihood of disputes.

Whether you’re buying or selling, contact your local Whitegates branch today

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