How Can I Prevent My Property Chain Breaking?

Property chains are fairly common in residential property transactions and occur when there is more than one buyer involved in a property transaction. Each party relies on the others completing their purchase and all of the sales must happen at exactly th

27 May 2021

What Is A Property Chain?

If something goes wrong along the chain, it can collapse in a domino-style effect, affecting everyone within it. The longer the housing chain, the more risk there is in one of the links falling out, an obstacle for all buyers and sellers involved making their sales and purchases.

Even first-time buyers feel the impact of a chain, despite having no links below them because the party they are buying from may be affected by the sellers of the house they are buying and so on. This the ‘onward chain.’ 

We are expert conveyancers in Manchester and work very hard to minimise problems associated with chains. We have worked continuously to develop a team of qualified professionals who strive to deliver excellent customer service, optimal systems and have 60 years of legal experience within the team. 

Why Might A Property Chain Collapse? 

There are several reasons a property chain might collapse. Here are some of the most common:

  • A buyer might be refused a mortgage.
  • One of the buyers or sellers might simply change their mind.
  • A property survey could reveal problems that the buyer finds unacceptable.
  • A buyer or seller may try to renegotiate the terms of the transaction.
  • Unforeseen events such as loss of job, illness or accident, might alter a party’s needs.
  • Gazumping - where a seller accepts an offer from one buyer but then takes a higher offer from someone else at the last minute. 
  • Gazundering - where a buyer reduces their offer at the last minute, sometimes just before exchange, which may result in the seller being unable to accept it and the chain breaking. 

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid breaking a housing chain but maintaining good communications can often keep problems to a minimum. It is also possible to buy a specific type of home buyer's protection insurance which will pay out if your purchase falls through. Make sure you read the terms, conditions and exclusions thoroughly.

How Can I Prevent My Property Chain Breaking?

  1. Maintain Communication

Communication is everything. Maintain regular contact with your solicitor, estate agent and mortgage broker and request regular progress checks and respond promptly when you’re required to provide information. This will help to build good relationships all round, which increases the chance of holding a chain together. It becomes harder to let somebody down once you’ve established a rapport.

  1. Be Organised

Get your finances in place and instruct your conveyancing expert to advise you and keep a record of all correspondence.

Being organised enables the process to move along more speedily, meaning there's less chance of things going wrong.

  1. Be Open Minded

If someone in the chain pulls out because of money issues, you could try getting everyone in the chain to agree to a lower sale price.

If the seller of the home you want to buy loses the home they want to buy, it's worth asking if they might consider renting in the short term. If you're really keen on their property and don't want to let it go, you could even offer to give them a few months' rent as a sweetener.

In general, it is the job of the professionals to keep communicating, making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to. Some estate agents have dedicated sales-progression teams whose main objective is to keep things moving forward. Keep asking your estate agent and conveyancing expert to chase people. Here is a breakdown on how to maintain an effective property chain:

  • Do your research when choosing a residential conveyance solicitor. 
  • Don’t choose a residential conveyancing solicitor simply based on the cheapest quote. Make a comparison of all the services offered and read reviews.
  • Look specifically to buy a chain free property.
  • Make sure your finances are in place well before you make an offer on a property.
  • Maintain good communication with everyone involved in the housing chain, especially the estate agent and conveyancing solicitors.
  • Air any concerns early on. If you discover something that you think might affect the chain, flag it up as soon as possible.
  • If you are selling a property as well as buying one, you will have to supply information about the property. Get this together this to hand in advance to avoid delays.
  • Discuss potential time frames early on so that everyone involved is clear on your expectations
  • If the property chain is fairly long, agree for one person (perhaps your conveyancing expert) to be the central contact.
  • File everything, including all correspondence. 
  • Have copies of documents that are likely to be requested to hand. 
  • Sign and return all paperwork promptly. 
  • Deliver documents by hand or special delivery.

How Can I Avoid Getting In A Property Chain? 

Finding yourself stuck in a housing chain can be stressful and expensive. If just one person drops out, the whole chain can collapse, and you and everyone else can suffer emotionally and financially as a result.

Circumstances often mean chains are unavoidable. The main way to avoid would be:

  • Sell Before You Buy

This way you are not reliant on the sale of one house to buy the next. It also puts you in a really strong negotiating position meaning you could get a better price when you negotiate on a new property, especially if you find a seller who is keen to move quickly. Selling first also means you know exactly how much you have to spend and buying your new home won’t be dependent on you achieving the expected price on your existing one.


If you sell first, hoping to buy soon after, you may have to rent for a while if there is nothing suitable on the market. This can prove very costly and inconvenient meaning 2 moves. Also, if prices are rising, then by the time you’ve sold, a new house could be unaffordable. 

Conveyancing Expert are your dedicated conveyancers in Manchester. We ensure that every client benefit from our expertise, and is more than happy with the services provided to them. We always provide informative updates during the process and excel in customer service.

To discuss any of the above or if you have any specific queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 794 7799.
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