Finding a home - Conveyancing - First time buyer

What does chain free mean when buying property?

3 min read

Buying a property chain free can be an advantageous position to be in. Find out more about what being chain free means along with the potential benefits

  • Arti Dhamu, Move Specialist at My Home Move Conveyancing
    Arti Dhamu

    Move Specialist

    Published January 29th 2024

young chain free couple moving into their new home

If you're a chain free buyer, it means you don't need to sell a property to buy another one. Being chain free is an attractive quality to sellers and can make you an advantageous buyer in a competitive property market. Learn more about property chains and the advantages of being chain free below.

In this article:

What is a property chain?

A property chain is a sequence of connected property transactions, typically involving multiple buyers and sellers. It's like a domino effect, where one sale depends on the successful completion of another.

Is it easier to buy or sell a house with no chain?

Buying or selling a house with no chain is a desirable position to be in. This is because the conveyancing process is a lot simpler, smoother and quicker. Because there are less people, and properties involved, there are usually less complications that you’ll have to deal with.

What issues can arise in a chain?

In property transactions, the speed is limited by the slowest link in the chain. This is because another link (person, or property) could cause delays, or even the whole chain to collapse.

The chain could break if a link decides they no longer want to buy or sell a property, known as gazanging and gazundering. Or you may experience delays if there are issues with things such as, mortgage approvals, home buyer survey issues, slow response to enquiries or even a holiday delaying the preferred completion date.

How long does a chain free house purchase take?

A chain free purchase is typically quicker than one with a chain since there are no other properties to wait on. With this being said, there are always factors which could prolong a purchase, chain free or not. A standard purchase takes 12-24 weeks on average, however once you instruct your conveyancer, they will do their best to advise on approximate timings taking in yours and your property’s circumstances.

Find out more about how long the conveyancing process take.

What are the benefits of being a chain free buyer?

As a chain free buyer, you have no onward chain, and are in a strong position to negotiate with sellers. This can either mean, negotiating with your offer, or the conditions of your offer, for example, asking for it to be taken off the market immediately. This is because the offer you make and your ability to move quickly and decisively can make you a more attractive buyer, especially in a competitive housing market.

What are the benefits of buying a chain free property?

For buyers, purchasing a property without an upward chain, means that you won't have to wait for the seller to find a suitable property or for other transactions to complete before you can move in. This can be particularly advantageous if you're on a tight schedule, such as relocating for a new job or for a school catchment area.

How to avoid being in a chain

To avoid the added stress that comes with a chain, there are a few actions you can take:

If you’re buying

  • Choose to purchase a new build house. A new build will not have an upward chain, in addition, a lot of new builds allow a part-exchange which helps speed up the process if you have a property you need to sell

  • Sell your current property and move in with friends or family, or rent, while you go through the process of buying a new home

If you’re selling

  • You could hold out until you find a buyer without a chain, or even give your estate agents the instruction to only accept offers from chain free buyers

  • Target developers or people buying with cash as this usually allows for a chain free, quick sale

If you’re thinking about doing any of these, it’s worth checking that the benefits of being chain free outweigh the time, cost and effort it takes to make yourself chain free, or restricting yourself to only accepting chain free offers.

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