What to do if a house purchase falls through

March 7, 2014
Posted by in Property Market, Tips | Tagged , , , |

Losing out on a dream home can be a difficult experience, but there are steps that can be taken to maximise a buyer’s chances of concluding their next purchase successfully, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

NAEA’s latest research reveals that there are, on average at a national level, over eight buyers for every property that comes to market. With this level of competition, buyers are increasingly left disappointed, even if their offer has been accepted.

Under the rules of the English conveyancing system, the seller or purchaser is completely free to pull out of the purchase process, without penalty, until contracts are exchanged.

Jan Hӱtch, President of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “Losing out on a house can be an understandably upsetting experience. To minimise the chances of disappointment, it is always sensible to find out as much as possible about the seller’s situation. For example, ask if they have already found a property to buy, and if so, whether or not the upward chain is complete. All of these factors could impact upon your purchase.

“Remember that estate agents are legally obliged to let sellers know about any offers that are made, and unfortunately this can sometimes result in gazumping. Rapid price increases in some areas have led to some sellers deciding to leave their property on the market a little longer and hold out for a higher price than the original valuation. It is important to work closely with the agent you are dealing with to understand the seller’s situation and prepare your approach accordingly.”

The NAEA’s top tips for those who have just had a house purchase fall through are as follows:

Find out what happened – A purchase can fall through for a number of reasons. If, for example, the seller was in a chain that broke down, the property could come back to the market, or the chain could re-form with a different property being chosen by someone in the chain.

Prioritise – Sit down and list exactly what features you liked and disliked in the property that you missed out on. This can help focus your search if you do decide to re-enter the market and may even help to find a more appropriate property for you.

Communication is key – Keep in touch with the agent as they will understand your situation and may be able to give you early warning of similar suitable properties in your search area. Remember that you are an attractive buyer for anyone looking to make a quick sale as you will probably already have your mortgage finance set up and the ability to move fast.

Asking for a property to be taken off the market once your offer has been accepted and your mortgage finance and survey are confirmed is a reasonable request, and can minimise the chances of additional offers coming in over and above yours.

Don’t put all your eggs into one basket – If you are in rented accommodation, once an offer to buy is accepted, there can be temptation to give notice straight away on your current home. Remind yourself that nothing is set in stone until you have exchanged contracts, and factor this into any decisions you make about when to inform your landlord.

Get the best possible advice – Much of an agents’ involvement in a property transaction goes on behind the scenes, and a good estate agent can help a sale progress much more easily and smoothly than going it alone. To ensure you are getting the best possible advice and information about your purchase, always talk to an NAEA member agent.


About NAEA

National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency personnel, being part of a group representing 13,000 members who practice across all aspects of property services both in the UK and overseas. These include residential and commercial sales and lettings, property management, business transfer, auctioneering and land. The NAEA is a sister organisation to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

NAEA is dedicated to the goal of professionalism within all aspects of property, estate agency and land. Its aim is to reassure the general public that by appointing an NAEA member to represent them they will receive in return the highest level of integrity and service for all property matters. Both NAEA and ARLA members are bound by a vigorously enforced Code of Practice and adhere to professional Rules of Conduct. Failure to do so can result in heavy financial penalties and possible expulsion from the Associations.