Should you try to avoid a chain when selling your home?
February . 2013
At some stage in our lives we will all move house and the complexities of the process will either glide smoothly to a happy conclusion, or cause stress and anxiety. The single main cause of any stressful move comes when a chain is involved: a who is moving to b, who is moving to c and so on. Because of the number of simultaneous transactions involved, the finances to arrange, the surveys to satisfy, the glitches in title, covenant or contract and the completion dates that need to tie in, there is the much greater chance that the whole pile will collapse and all parties will have to start again.
In any market avoiding a chain is the ideal. The simplest transaction of willing buyer and willing seller is just what the doctor ordered, but the seller will always need a property to move to and the buyer will often rely on a property to sell.
Which brings us to the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? If you are considering a move, do you wait for your perfect house to become available to buy before selling yours, or do you put yours on the market first in the hope that the perfect house will become available. In both cases you will have to rely on a great deal of luck to tie in both the sale and the purchase in the same time period and, of course, the dreaded chain is always lurking to scupper the whole deal.
In any market conditions this is always a quandary. Now especially, however, it is more so. It is not an easy market to see sales through, moving house is expensive so people want to get it right and there is still a big unknown in the larger picture.
There has been a general lack of quality property available, so the chances of your tying in an immediate onward purchase is slim. The reasons for the lack of supply are plenty, but the main one is that folks are holding back from putting their properties on the market until they see one that they want to move to – and so the catch 22 is born. If properties aren’t coming to the market, they won’t be seen as available and their potential buyers won’t put their properties on the market either. This isn’t a new climate, it has been going on for a long time and it has always restricted movement.
So what is the answer? If you are a truly motivate seller, put your house on the market before finding your next home and be prepared to break the chain by renting for the short term. This will free you from the stress of a fragile chain and put you in a perfect position to jump as soon as your perfect house becomes available to buy. Yes, it means a double move, yes it means an unsettled period, yes it means paying out in rent what you could be saving, but put these against a successful outcome, far less trauma and the significant extra costs of collapsing chains and you can start to see the reasoning. Some attempts at moving house go on for months or even years and chains are frequently to blame, while those who decide to break have already moved on and put the stress well and truly behind them.