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My chain has fallen through, what are my options?

Q: I am in a chain but my buyer has just fallen through. What should I do?

A: I am sorry to hear that your buyer has fallen through. My advice is firstly, to speak to the estate agents acting for your sale to find out if there are any potential replacement purchasers on the horizon. Ideally, you need to find a reliable replacement as quickly as possible. If there is potential interest then the agents will act quickly to try to entice a formal offer. If not, you will need to make sure that they are prioritising pushing your property to potential buyers.

Some will inform the estate agent selling your onward purchase straight away that their sale has fallen through, and others will stall and try to find a replacement buyer before it comes to light. On the one hand, transparency is preferable, but if you think you can patch your sale together very quickly, you may not need to rock the boat with your onward purchase.

If you can’t find a replacement buyer straight away, whether your seller waits for you or puts the property back on the market will usually depend on a few factors. If you are very close to exchanging contracts on your onward purchase, the seller is more likely to give you some leeway to find another buyer. For them to find another buyer to reach the same point as you in the buying process will take time and will have its own uncertainty.

It will also depend on whether there is interest from other buyers. If there are no other buyers on the scene, the seller may choose to stick with you for the time being. However, they may pause the buying process until you find another buyer as they will not want to incur additional costs whilst you are technically in an unproceedable position.

In my experience, the key to any successful sale and purchase is to keep the communication flowing from the very outset and ensure that you progress as quickly as possible and keep everyone informed of your progress. That way, if there is a bump in the process, you will have generated a lot of goodwill along the way and everyone will be much more likely to give you some leeway if you need it. If, however you have been an uncommunicative, difficult and unreliable buyer, you are more likely to be dropped by the seller.