What causes house sales to fall through?

Moving to a new house can be a stressful time, particularly if a sale falls through. Don’t worry if this happens as there are often ways to get it back on track.


If something unexpected comes up in a survey, it may be a big enough problem to make the sale fall through.

In our experience, most house sales fall through due to survey reports. Unexpected work picked up on a survey may cause some purchasers to walk away from a sale. It’s generally recommended that sellers sort out any paperwork for work carried out and organise certificates to provide to your surveyor and purchaser.

If there is work that needs to be carried out, it can be more beneficial to rectify it before going on the market, because if your sale falls through, you will still have to pay solicitor fees and may still end up paying for the work. Purchasers should fully read their survey report and ask their surveyor to explain anything they don’t understand. If surveyors have not seen any paperwork or evidence of work, they have to assume it hasn’t been done and it can therefore seem like a larger problem than it is,” she warns.

Some of the more common reasons for losing a sale can be avoided by the seller if they are aware of any major works or alterations having been done on the property, that they have any documentation which signs it off, either from The Council or Building Regulations.

Chain issues

A chain can fall apart for many reasons, and sometimes people can get bored of waiting and find a house elsewhere.

When a sale is agreed to, you expect it to go through to completion. However, this is a time when you are not in control of events. You must rely on your buyer, and maybe even their buyer, and so on until the chain is complete. Any one of these people can and do change their minds occasionally. It is often nothing to do with your property.

The results of a single break can be huge, too. A sale falling through at the bottom of a chain of sales can potentially jeopardise all of the others, so one break can mean three, four or more sales falling through.

How can you try to stop a chain from falling through?

Our biggest advice to purchasers and vendors is that you may have to compromise during your sale. Also, picking the right estate agent can literally keep your sale together; A good estate agent with a dedicated sales progressor can make the difference between a sale falling through or completing.

During a negotiation

Negotiations can be a tricky time, and you can find yourself dealing with surprising demands. It is worth being flexible, and remember that small details should not be a make-or-break on your deal.

Fixtures and fittings can also cause some fraught negotiations with sellers wanting to take fitted wardrobes etc out of the property. A not insignificant number of sales almost fall through due to silly reasons such as having to leave a tired old shed, leaving curtains, not wanting to contribute towards an indemnity policy, or not being able to agree on a completion date.

People changing their mind and pulling out

Situations change all the time. Someone could lose their job, a family member could become ill, or people can simply have second thoughts.

The seller can change their minds after first accepting the offer and decide to stay put, which is sometimes called ‘gazanging’. The seller may not be able to find another property to move to, or the buyer’s finances are not in place or their mortgage advance is rejected.

The buyer can be ‘gazumped,’ which is when the seller receives a higher offer from another buyer. The opposite, ‘gazundering’, is when the buyer reduces their offer at the last minute, before contracts are signed.

As much as a buyer may want to move ahead, they may not be able to. Despite buyers having agreement in principle finance, there is a changing mortgage market and tougher underwriting depending on the loan to value once an actual application is completed. This can lead to upset unless the buyer has regularly reviewed the arrangements they have made.

What should you do next?

If a sale falls through, you can either get the property back onto the market without delay and commence a new marketing campaign. In the event of the cause having been a result of the survey, the seller should deal with any faults. Failing this, or if you’re in a particular hurry, you may want to sell to a cash buyer. A cash buyer will buy your property in any condition and normally complete within 28 days. Please see our guide to cash buying companies here.

How can you prevent a sale from falling through?

Don’t forget to check your mortgage status before putting in an offer to ensure that you will be accepted to buy the home.

You should always remember to be patient, especially when waiting for sales to go through. The negotiation stage can be the most frustrating as you want the sale to move ahead quickly, but it is worth taking a step back and letting the negotiations take their course.

The most important thing is to choose an agent who will be able to constantly chase your sale through, no matter if it is in a chain or not. A highly-regarded independent estate agent will be experts in sale chasing and can ensure that everything possible is done to stop a sale from falling through.

My sale has fallen through, what can I do to save my purchase?

The simple answer to this is to sell to a cash buyer. We at Offerpal can help you do this.

Put simply, a cash buyer is someone who can offer a formal cash offer for your house as soon as they decide they’re interested in it. Unlike most buyers found via a traditional estate agent, a cash buyer has the means to purchase your property with cash, rather than a mortgage.

Using the latest technology and up-to-date data, experienced cash buying companies can give you an accurate and fair initial offer in principle for your property quickly (usually the same day).

By using OfferPal, you can compare cash offers from reputable cash buyers in less than 24 hours. Perfect to save you time ‘shopping around’ to find the best offer for your home.

This means your chain will be saved and you can go on and move into the home you have your heart set on. Simply fill in our online form today to get started.

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