Selling a house is up there with one of the most stressful things you will ever do in your life.
We surveyed 305 people who have sold or have tried to sell their home to find out what percentage of house sales fall through. The results are in…
Our research reveals that 31% of all house sales fall through at least once before completion. The most common reason for a house sale falling through is a change of heart or circumstance, closely followed by a break in the chain and mortgage problems.
This article delves into our findings around the reasons why a house sale falls through, how location can affect the percentage of house sale fall-throughs and the amount of money you can expect to lose as a result.
If you are one of the unlucky 31%, all hope is not lost: My article also sets out your best options to help you repair a broken chain (and heart!) and secure your dream home.
If your house sale has fallen through and you want to get it back on track fast, it may be worth considering a house buying company. Take the free online quiz I’ve developed for you below and see if a quick, chain-free sale could be a good fit for you:
1. What percentage of house sales fall through?
A whopping 31% of all house sales fall through at least once before completion. What’s more shocking, an unlucky 3% have experienced their house sale fall through three or more times!
Location, location, location
A factor that influences the percentage of house sale fall-throughs is location (just ask Phil and Kirsty).
The most reliable place to sell a property in England & Wales is the North East, with “just” 24% of all house sales falling through.
You are most likely to experience a house sale fall-through in Wales, with a massive 45% of sales falling flat after a sale has been agreed.
2. How does a house chain affect fall through rates?
If you find yourself in a house chain, unfortunately the risk of it collapsing increases with every additional house.
- If there are two houses in a chain, you have a 42% chance that one of the house sales will fall through at some stage in the process.
- If there are three houses in the property chain, the risk of one or more of the house sales falling through is more than half, at 56%*!
More houses equal more problems! (No wonder that trying to buy a house with no onward chain is so appealing).
You aren’t just relying on your survey coming back clear; you have to hope the surveys for each property in the chain don’t reveal a nasty surprise. There are also more minds that can be changed, and communication can be trickier with more solicitors and estate agents to coordinate. This can cause greater delays.
Although there’s a higher risk that your house sale will fall through if you are in a property chain, there are things you can do to limit the chances of a house chain collapsing…
Top tips for ensuring your property chain doesn’t begin to rust
If you do find yourself in a house chain, there are a number of things you can do to keep the risk of a break in the chain to a minimum:
- Communication is key! There will be a number of different estate agents and conveyancers working on each part of the chain. Although sales progression should really be the job of the professionals, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for regular updates. See if you can help chase the people who are holding things up but remember to keep it friendly and polite!
- Responsiveness is also a massive factor. Make sure you respond to any enquiries, complete any tasks and return the necessary documents asap to prevent holding up the chain.
- Don’t let documents get lost in the post! Make sure you send any signed documents by special delivery or, better yet, by hand to ensure they arrive quickly.
Unfortunately, you can do all of the above and a house sale will still fall through. If this happens, you still have options....
Consider selling directly to a house-buying company
Many sellers contact cash house buying companies who can step in to your chain and buy your home very quickly.
Take the quiz below to see if a sale to a house buying company could be your best option. (If it is, I can connect you with a leading house-buying company I know and trust. You could have a genuine cash offer in the next 48 hours).
So, we've covered how many sales fall through, but what are the most common reasons they fall through?
3. What are the most common reasons a house sale falls through?
According to our 2022 survey, the most common reason why a house sale fell through since the COVID pandemic hit was a change of heart or circumstances at 40%.
Buyers have been making rash decisions recently when it comes to house purchases with the number of potential buyers vastly outweighing the number of houses for sale. It’s quite possible that your buyer may have gotten a bit carried away in a bidding war and overstretched themselves on their offer. This can lead to buyer’s remorse once the dust has settled.
Buyers may also have experienced an event in their personal life, such as their relationship breaking down or a redundancy, which makes the house purchase financially unviable for them.
Redundancies can also lead to problems obtaining a mortgage offer, which was third on our list of reasons why house sales fell through at 16%. Lenders are also becoming more nervous because of uncertainty in the property market and so are rejecting more applications.
Conveyancing issues and delays came in fifth at 10%. The stamp duty incentive from 2020/21 contributed to delays, with a flood of activity and lower staffing levels thanks to furlough. This culminated in a massive backlog of transactions, some of which never made it to completion. The more delays you have, the greater the risk of something going wrong.
Problems with a home survey contributed to 7.5% of all house sale fall-throughs according to our 2022 survey. When the property market is hot and crazy offers are being made for homes (which has been the case lately) surveyors tend to get paranoid and down value properties. This means people don’t have the funds to complete their purchases and have to pull out.
A break in the chain was the second most common reason for a house sale falling through according to our survey at 24%. A break in a property chain can be caused by any of the above reasons and is oftentimes frustratingly out of your control.
4. How long does a house sale falling through delay your eventual sale by?
Almost half of our survey respondents had delays of 4 months or more on their eventual sale as a result of a house sale falling through, with 16% calling off the move altogether.
Nearly 10% of sellers experienced more than 12-months of delays because of a sale falling through. You could build a new house from scratch in that time!
If you can’t afford to wait up to 12 months for your onward purchase, there are options which allow you to complete on your sale in as little as two weeks. Check out our quiz below to see if a cash house buying company is right for you.
5. How much can you expect to compromise on price to get a sale completed?
Just under 45% of sellers compromised on price to get a sale completed after a fall-through.
Our survey revealed that 20% of sellers waved goodbye to more than £10,000 to get their house sales over the line.
If you can afford to compromise on price, you will have more options when it comes to mending a broken property chain. So, what are your options?
6. What are my options if my house sale falls through?
Although having a house sale fall through can feel like the end of the world, you do have the following options:
- Try to renegotiate with the current buyer
- Contact your estate agent about other interested buyers and/or putting the property back on the market
- Sell to a cash house buying company
- Sell via auction (if the sale has fallen through due to survey issues and you have no onward purchase)
The best solution for you will vary depending on whether you need a quick sale to avoid missing out on your dream home or if you need to achieve the best possible price to afford your onward purchase.
Option 1: Renegotiate with the current buyer
The first thing you should do if your house sale falls through is to try and renegotiate with the current buyer. Find out why they have pulled out of the sale and see if there is a solution both parties would be happy with.
If you are able to renegotiate with the current buyer, you will be able to save a lot of time and money in the long run. Even if you have to take a small hit on price now, your other options of selling via auction or a cash house buying company would mean you only achieve around 80-90% of the market value in the end anyway.
Option 2: Sell with your estate agent
Given the current property climate, it may be that you had a handful of offers on your home that you originally turned down.
It is worth contacting your estate agent to see if any of those buyers are still interested in your property.
If you have multiple other offers to choose from, go with a buyer who isn’t in a chain themselves to avoid further delays.
If the previous potential buyers are no longer interested and you need to achieve the full asking price for your property, your only option will be to put the property back on the market with an estate agent.
Keep in mind that this option will take time as you will have to go through the entire conveyancing process again with the new buyer. You will, however, achieve the best price with this option.
Option 3: Sell to a cash house buying company
If you need to complete asap to avoid missing out on your dream home and can afford to compromise on price, selling your home fast to a cash house buying company will be your best option.
Selling to a cash house buying company is the quickest way to repair a housing chain. Check out the quiz below to see if quick, direct sale could be your best option...
If it is, I'll introduce you to the company I know and trust on your quiz results page:
The house buying company I work with can offer you a formal, guaranteed offer in just 24 hours and completion can take place in as little as two weeks or on a timescale to suit you. But it does come at a cost…
You should expect to sell for around 85% of your previous sale price. The company does cover all your fees on the plus side, and you won’t have an estate agent to pay.
You might be able to spread the reduced price across other parties in the chain, so it is worth asking the question. They’ll be keen to avoid the chain collapsing, so might be willing to accept a reduced price to hold everything together.
Whilst this option is not for everyone, it is quick, convenient and might be worth considering if it means you still get to buy your dream home. Check out this case study to learn more.
Option 4: Sell via auction
Selling via auction is a good option if the sale has fallen through due to survey issues.
You will achieve a better price at auction (usually around 85-95% of the market value) than with a cash house buying company.
Problem properties tend to do well at auctions too, as people are looking for a “fixer-upper” that they can add value to and sell on for profit.
You do not get the same guaranteed speed and certainty though with auction as you do with a cash house buying company.
Auctions aren’t really an option if you have an onward purchase. Auction sales tend to take around 8-10 weeks on average and are held on set dates. This makes it hard to sync up with an onward purchase.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the property will sell in the first auction.
Read about the benefits of selling at auction here.
If you want to explore selling at auction, take my free quiz below. I'll help see if it's a good fit for you.
If auction looks like the right option, I'll introduce you to leading auction houses I know and trust on your quiz results page.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert