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Explaining what no onward chain means, whether it's a good thing, and what to do if your no onward chain sale collapses...

When selling a house, the fewer people involved in the process, the less room for things to go wrong and the faster a purchase can move along. In an ideal world, you want the shortest property chain possible.

So, does this mean no onward chain is an ideal position to be in? Will it mean you can get a faster property sale? What does no onward chain actually mean?

We’re going to answer these questions for you, as well as examples of a no onward chain property, whether or not these sales collapse and how to get a fast sale for your no onward chain property.

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What does no onward chain mean?

No onward chain, also known as no forward chain or no upward chain, is a property that is ready to be sold instantly, and the vendor doesn’t require the funds to move into their new house, they’re happy to move into rented accommodation, or they’re not looking to purchase another property straight away.

With most sales, the sellers are relying on each other for their sale to complete, but with a no onward chain property, the seller of that property is no longer relying on the sale of their house to be able to move on.

For example, a new build house would be considered a no onward chain property, as there are no occupants to move out and it’s the builder who’s selling the property.

As a seller, it will be of an advantage to you selling your house to a buyer who’s got no onward chain, as they’re readily available to buy your house ASAP, without the need to sell theirs. Ideally, you’re looking for a cash buyer.

Is no onward chain a good thing?

Whether no onward chain is good or not may be a lot down to opinion, but as a general statement, it can be seen as a good thing. No onward chain will mean the moving/selling house process is simplified, which SHOULD make the process run a lot smoother.

If you find yourself a buyer with no onward chain, or in other words a cash buyer/someone who doesn’t need to sell to buy your house, this will be beneficial for you, especially in getting you a fast sale.

Selling to someone with no onward chain also reduces the chance that the sale will fall through, which is also another huge positive.

Examples of no onward chain property

So, you now know what no onward chain means, but what are examples of this type of property?

Tenanted property

Selling a property with tenants does have its difficulties, but most sellers tend to be looking to get their value out of the house and aren’t generally looking to buy another property, meaning there’s no onward chain.

New build property

New build properties won’t have any occupants and are bought off the developer, meaning there’s no onward chain, as the builder is looking to get money from the property and isn’t looking to use it for another sale.

Inherited property

Property that has been inherited, whether it’s going through probate or not, tends to be a property that people are looking to sell on, with no intention of living in it. This will mean an inherited property has no onward chain, as the money from the sale isn’t going towards another purchase.

Repossessed property

Once a house repayments lender has taken back possession of the property, then they will be obliged to sell the property. As a result of selling, the money made will go towards paying off the debt, rather than towards buying another property.

Property investor’s property

Property investors will generally have a big portfolio and so when they’re looking to sell one property, they’re not often looking to buy another new property straight away, meaning there’s no onward chain.

Those with a ‘Plan B’

Some sellers are happy to sell their house and move into rented accommodation before looking for a new property and eventually using the funds. This will mean there’s no onward chain, as they’re not looking to instantly buy a new property.

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Can no onward chain sales collapse?

Although it’s less likely, no onward chain sales can still collapse, meaning there’s a chain break. Why may a no onward chain sale break down? Well:

  • The buyer’s house repayments offer is turned down by the lender

  • The buyer or seller delays responding to estate agent or conveyancing enquiries, causing the other party to get frustrated

  • The solicitors are slow to progress things, causing lengthy delays, and frustration to all parties

  • Issues may arise on the house searches, which may not be workable, causing the sale to fall through

  • The buyer or seller simply changes their mind and pulls out the sale

  • Details in the memorandum of sale reveal that at least one of the sales can’t go

  • A buyer gazumps the sale, meaning the current seller pulls out and that sale falls through

  • A buyer gazunders the sale, causing the seller to pull out and the sale to fall through

  • The buyer is unable to give over deposit funds on time

Does no onward chain property sell quicker?

Although no onward chain sales appear to be a lot easier and smoother process, there’s no guarantee you will be able to sell your property quicker, just because you’re not instantly looking to buy another property.

However, although you may not be able to guarantee yourself a fast sale on the open market, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you can sell your no onward chain property fast…

  • Auction – At auction, you only get serious buyers who are ready to put their deposit down and exchange contracts as soon as the hammer comes down on a deal. After this, they have 20 to 28 days to complete, meaning you’re able to sell your house quickly.

  • However, although you may be able to get yourself a fast sale through this method, buyers can and do pull out of the sale, leaving you with no buyer.

    Also, you will have to hold several open days, cover all the legal, marketing and room hire fees, as well as paying the auctioneer a commission of the sale price, leaving you with a lot less than you initially thought.

  • Part exchange – A part exchange scheme will allow you to trade the value of your current house against a new build property, meaning your current property acts as a ‘part payment’.

  • However, if you’re not looking to buy a new house instantly, or you’re not interested in a new build property, then this isn’t going to be the right option for you.

  • Cash buyer – Using a cash buyer will allow you to get a quick house sale, as whilst you’re a ‘chain free seller’, they’re a ‘chain free buyer’, making the process a lot smoother and quicker.

  • A cash buyer doesn’t need to get house repayments, as they have the money readily available, meaning there’s less paperwork, and exchange and completion can happen whenever it suits you.

    Having said this, finding a cash buyer is easier said than done right?


    We’re right here!

    Here at The Property Buying Company, we’re a cash buyer of property, buying any house in any condition and location. We’re able to be the fast sale you’re looking for for your no onward chain property.

    We’re able to complete in a fast timescale of your choice and we will cover all the fees for you (including the legal ones) leaving you with our cash offer in full in your bank.

    Fill in our online form or give us a call for a no-obligation cash offer to guarantee your no onward chain property a fast sale...

Tom Condon

Tom Condon, one of our content writers, has fascinating expertise in sustainability in the property industry. Tom thoroughly understands the market and has experience in both residential and commercial property. He enjoys attending conferences and staying current with the most recent property trends.