Average Property Chain Length - How Long Is A Chain?

Written by Mathew McCorry

If you read my property blog now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you read it.

When it comes to the selling cycle, it can feel like you are stepping into the unknown. The unknown can be perceived as being worse when you and your property are part of a chain. A property chain, to some, naturally comes with a negative connotation. However, this blog will look at what it really means to be part of a property chain.

In this article we've given an insight into what a property chain is, how much it matters and the average length of property chains. It's a large article, so if you want to find out more, you can navigate to the section that answers your specific question:

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What is a property chain?

The phrase ‘property chain’ is simply when other buyers and sellers are linked together due to housing sales. Each buyer and or seller is reliant on the other homeowners in the chain for a successful transaction. Chains usually occur when sellers want to move from their current home to a new property.

For example, if you are wanting to move into your dream home, you are dependent on your current home being sold. If this does sell, and you have a buyer for your old property, you are instantly part of a chain which is reliant on others. Meaning that the process can be frustratingly longer than expected.

Property chains are extremely common place when it comes to traditional sale methods, it's quite rare to not be involved in a property chain. Most people need the money from the sale of their property to fund a deposit or purchase of their next.

Should you buy a house in a chain?

Property chains complicate things, and if you can avoid it you definitely should as it will mean a less stressful and easier process on a whole.

That being said, unfortunately most of the time property chains are an unavoidable part of buying and selling a home through a traditional method, so you're unlikely to be able to avoid buying in a chain. There are a few ways that you can keep a property chain simple:

  • If you've got several offers: if you're lucky enough to have a few offers on your property, ask what position the potential buyers are in and whether they depend on the sale of their own home. Try and choose one that doesn't rely on a sale, it'll speed up the chain a lot.
  • Get a new build: moving into a new build means there is no upward chain, so technically you're the end of the chain.
  • First time buyers: if you're home attracts a first time buyer then you're lucky, they can often move quick with no chain.
  • Vacant property: moving into a vacant property in which the owner has moved out or rented out in the past will mean there is no upper chain.

There are also other circumstances that can happen such as someone in the chain could move in with family to get things moving quicker or anything along those lines.

Does it matter how many houses are in a property chain?

Yes - it does. The more houses involved in the property chain the more complicated it becomes and an increased chance of it falling through. It only takes one part of the chain to be delayed for it to have a knock on effect on everyone.

Unfortunately again, it's kind of hard to figure out how long a property chain is going to be without playing detective. It's one of those necessary evils that you have to put up with going through a traditional sale.

What is the length of an average property chain?

According to the Government website, a house sale can take between two to three months. However, it also states that if you are part of a property chain, then this process can be longer.

Although, this question can be considered as a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question.

From the previous point, it is understandable that being part of a property chain can take a while. Every property case is different, some instances there has only been one other in a chain. Whereas other chains can have as much as eight sellers and buyers’ part of the chain.

Although, don’t let this put you off. Even if a property chain has a wide length, it doesn’t always mean that the buying and selling process will take longer. Some chains may break, nevertheless they can be resolved easily and a break is a rare occurrence.

Property chain problems

As detailed in previous sections, property chains can be tedious and tying. The main issue with being involved with a chain is the time length. There is no knowing of how long a completion of a sale will be. If you are prepared to wait and you aren’t in a rush to sell, then being part of a chain will be the appropriate step for your sale.

You've also got to consider the increased liklihood of the property sale falling through. All it takes is one member of the chain to have an issue or change in circumstances and it can make the whole property chain fall apart if it isn't repaired quick enough.

How long does it take to buy a house with no chain?

There are quite a few outliers with this, it depends on the solicitors, motiviation of the buyers / seller & if the buyer is waiting on a mortgage being redeemed for the purchase.

That being said, not being part of a property chain will speed your property purchase up significantly. You'll probably expect to complete anywhere between one to two months, if there are no other issue or delays with a mortgage application.

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Another fundamental issue with property chains is they can be broken. If a party somewhere down the chain pulls out (even if they are not directly linked to your sale), then this can have a knock-on effect to your house sale. This is generally the main reason why homeowners find property chains annoying.

Can chain breaks be fixed?

Being part of a property chain can be frustrating, especially if it breaks. However, there are certain ways that can fix a chain. Firstly, one way could be instead of selling and then buying simultaneously, after selling you could rent somewhere temporarily or stay with friends/family.

Buying new-build properties come with various advantages. One being that they rarely come with an ‘upward chain’. Not having an upward chain basically means that a seller is not reliant on anyone else. This allows your buying journey to be easier than anyone below you in the chain.

A definite way to lower the risk of having a chain break is by setting a lower asking price. If you price your property lower than others that are similar to yours in the local area, prospective buyers are more likely to consider purchasing, hence fixing the chain from the start.

Choosing to sell to a first-time buyer is also another option to consider. If you do sell to a first-time buyer, then they won’t be part of a chain, therefore making the chances of them dropping out of the sale smaller.

How we can help

Another way to sell your home quickly and without a chain is selling to us, The Property Buying Company. We buy any property in England and Wales and in any condition. We may not be able to offer you the full market value for your property, however we can offer you a fair price that is the best within the industry. We promise to cover all your legal fees and complete within a timescale to suit you. With over fifty years combined experience in buying property underneath our belts, rest assured, you and your property are in safe hands.

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