18 May

£400m cost to homeowners whose property sale falls through

One in five people selling their home have had the sale fall through with more than two-thirds of sales collapsing because the buyer changed their mind.

A survey commissioned by the HomeOwners Alliance (HOA) and online homebuyer IMMO.co.uk, carried out by YouGov, revealed those whose sale fell through were out of pocket by an average £2,727, with one in 10 (12 percent) racking up costs of more than £5,000.

The results of the survey suggest that more than 300,000 property transactions fall through in the UK every year at a cost to seller of £400 million.

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Sellers inhibited by fear of failure

The reasons for a collapsed sale include:

  • Buyer changing their mind or finding another property – 39 percent
  • Buyer failing to secure finance – 28 percent
  • Collapse of a chain – 20 percent
  • Gazundering (buyer lowers offer before contracts exchanged) – 8 percent

According to the findings, the risk of a sale falling through inhibits homeowners’ decisions on whether to sell or not. One in three (34 percent) say they feared a property chain collapsing while one in five (19 percent) say the uncertainty over the price they could achieve is a hindrance to marketing their home.

Suggestions for home-buying reform

Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance said: “We often hear about would-be buyers losing their dream homes as a result of sellers accepting higher offers, but less is said about sellers forking out thousands in wasted fees only for buyers to change their mind, leaving the seller back at square one.

“Gazundering and time wasting is a huge problem. The home-selling system is so unreliable that it’s deterring homeowners from selling – adding to the ongoing housing shortage crisis as a lack of suitable homes is one of the barriers to people moving up the property ladder.

“Buyers need to have a little more skin in the game, too. An earlier commitment – for example, through reservation agreements – would go some way to avoiding these situations.”

The HOA has put forward proposals to the Government for reform of the house buying and selling market in England. Its suggestions include legally binding agreements to secure earlier sales, including buyers and sellers putting down a non-refundable deposit.

Sign of commitment to transaction required

Those who took part in the survey were quizzed on what they thought would improve home selling. Four out of five (80 percent) wanted buyers to show proof of funds before they could put in an offer, while 65 percent agreed on the non-refundable deposit as a sign that both sides are committed to the transaction.

Unlike the unlucky homeowners who ended up with a big bill but no house sale, sellers who instruct through Homeward Legal have the peace of mind that they won’t be out a penny if their transaction falls to complete, thanks to our “no fee, no completion” guarantee.

Talk to our expert team now on 0800 038 6699 to find out how we can help with your property sale, offering a fixed-fee guarantee and a seven-day operation that will help you keep on top of your conveyancing.