A failed house sale can be a big blow. It’ll cost you money in fees and could scupper your own plans for your next move. If it happens more than once it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s your fault. But, what does cause a house sale to fall through and is there anything you can do to avoid this?
The most commons reasons for a sale falling through are completely out of your hands and are, instead, the responsibility of the buyer. Often it’s the case that a would-be buyer is simply unable to get hold of the finance required to complete the deal – or is let down further down the chain.
This is why it pays to deal with someone who holds a ‘decision in principle’ already from the bank (although even this offers no guarantee) and, ideally those with no chain. Government schemes should help buyers who are struggling to afford a deposit but buyer finance is something you can do little about. It’s easy to suggest waiting for an ‘ideal buyer’, but in practice this isn’t always possible.
The selling equivalent of being ‘gazumped’ – gazundering works when a buyer tries to reduce the price they will have to pay midway through the sale. You need to make a decision – can you afford to lose your sale or any of the value of the house? Savvy buyers might well try to pull this trick – remember nothing is set in stone and agreed until both parties have signed the contracts. All you can do is set a fair price and hope to attract a buyer willing to pay it. They might try to ‘gazunder’ you if they realise you’re looking to get an ‘over the odds’ price for your property.
If your paperwork shows a boundary dispute or a failed attempt to obtain planning permission for an extension, for example, be prepared for this to sow the seeds of doubt in a buyer’s mind. Some people might, over time, realise they don’t want your property if, say, it’s of a non-standard construction and requires finance and insurance from specialist providers. The particulars of your home might make it tougher to sell – you might need to be a little more patient than the average seller.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the people handling the paperwork for your sale. You’re paying them to work on your behalf. A slow or inefficient service could well be costing you your sale. Chase them up and don’t be afraid to ask a question.
As long as you’ve got the right conveyancer and estate agent in place then you shouldn’t really need to contact the buyer directly. Don’t be tempted to chase them – your pressure might well lead to the sale falling through. Stay patient – selling a house isn’t necessarily a swift process.
With up to a third of sales falling through and a combination of finances, chains and conveyancing possible factors, sometimes what you need to see you over the line is a stroke of luck. It’s certainly true that you will need certain aspects of a sale to go in your favour. You need to limit the need for luck by choosing a good estate agent, conveyancer and setting a reasonable price – doing all of that might just earn you that little bit of luck required with the things out of your control.