The Time Frame of Purchasing a House Without a Chain in 2023

The completion of the conveyancing process when purchasing a house without a chain can potentially take up to four weeks, although an exact average cannot be provided for the overall duration.

From the moment you list your property with an agent or on a property portal, to the point when the buyer moves in, it typically takes around six months to buy a house. However, not being part of a property chain reduces delays since your purchase is not dependent on other transactions. This significantly speeds up the process as you are not required to wait for other transactions to conclude before proceeding with your own.

Compare My Move has formulated this comprehensive guide to help you understand the concept of a property chain and its impact on the duration of the house-buying process. We will also delve into the topic of buying and selling a property without a chain and how this minimizes the risk of setbacks.

What Constitutes a Property Chain?

A property chain refers to a sequence of buyers and sellers interconnected because their transactions are interdependent. Any delays encountered within the chain will inevitably impede the progress of other transactions. When you purchase a property, you become a link in a property chain. Being part of a chain can be problematic if the other sales involved are delayed.

Given that each vendor requires an estate agent, mortgage lender, conveyancer, surveyor, and so on, a single chain generally involves multiple individuals. This means that if any person in the chain delays the process, the entire sequence may suffer a delay as well. The speed at which the chain progresses is determined by its slowest link, which is why it is crucial to heed the advice of the professionals involved and gather all necessary documentation in advance.

However, if you come across the terms "chain-free" or "no chain" in relation to a property for sale, it signifies that the vendor does not need to purchase another property while selling their current one, or vice versa. Consequently, they are not waiting for anyone else to complete the transaction and are therefore not part of a property chain. This category includes first-time buyers.

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Purchasing a House Without a Chain

Determining the exact length of time it will take to buy a house without a chain is not possible. However, the process is likely to be much faster, thus reducing the risk of delays. The general timeline for buying a house is as follows:

- Save for a deposit

- Find the ideal property

- Engage a conveyancer

- Apply for a mortgage

- Arrange a property survey

- Exchange contracts

- Complete

- Moving day

When involved in a property chain, it can take anywhere between 12 weeks and 6 months to buy a house, with the conveyancing process alone requiring 8-12 weeks. However, being chain-free will significantly shorten this timeline, depending on your individual circumstances and any complications that may arise. By purchasing a property without a chain, the duration of the conveyancing process alone can be reduced to just four weeks.

Tips for Buying a House Without a Chain

1. Seek a verified and dedicated solicitor: To ensure a swift and accurate completion of the legal aspects of the sale, it is essential to compare conveyancing quotes before selecting an experienced, professional, and qualified conveyancing solicitor. Although there may still be potential issues causing delays even without a chain, an experienced conveyancer will know how to handle such situations, facilitating a smoother transaction.

Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as needed when choosing a conveyancer, as you should aim for the best professionals for the job. Despite the temptation to choose the cheapest option available, remember that lower prices do not always equate to better services.

2. Maintain an open channel of communication It is crucial to make yourself accessible whenever possible throughout the process. Any delays could hinder the transaction. Ensure that you consistently keep communication lines open with both your conveyancer and estate agent and provide necessary feedback when requested.

3. Ensure the availability of adequate funds The cost of purchasing a house can be significant due to various included fees. Your chosen conveyancer will likely explain these costs to help you get organized. Before proceeding with the transaction, ensure that you have the necessary funds to cover these costs and complete the transaction.

Failure to cover the included conveyancing fees may result in crucial steps being overlooked. For example, without paying appropriate fees, tasks like stamp duty and local searches may remain incomplete, causing significant delays in the process.

4. Stay organized with your documentation When purchasing a house, you will need to sign numerous documents, including conveyancing searches and final contracts. The more organized you are with your paperwork, the faster the process can be completed. Your conveyancer should clearly communicate the next required steps for the legal paperwork in the transaction.

5. Compare removal quotes early Another valuable tip for buying a house with no chain is to compare removal quotes as early as possible, especially for long-distance moves. Since there is no property chain involved, the buying process can be completed relatively quickly, as long as there are no unexpected delays. Thus, it would be wise to prepare for your moving date as soon as possible.

Start by decluttering your property and consider how you can begin packing your belongings. Additionally, don't forget to compare removal companies to find a reputable and experienced firm that can assist you throughout the moving process.

Selling a House With No Chain To minimize the length of your property chain, you might want to consider selling your property before purchasing a new one. This approach not only reduces the risk of delays associated with property chains but also provides you with more financial flexibility to make a larger deposit.

However, if you choose to sell before buying a new house, carefully review the terms and conditions of the contracts before signing. Many buyers expect vacant possession upon completion, meaning you and your belongings must be moved out of the property by the completion date. To keep the property chain short, you will need to find alternative accommodation and possibly storage solutions for your items.

Why Do Property Chains Fail? Property chains, especially long ones, are prone to failure due to the involvement of numerous vendors and their respective teams of professionals. This creates ample opportunities for delays to occur. As you depend on other transactions within the chain, any delays in other links will inevitably impact you.

According to data from Quick Move Now, 13% of failed property sales were caused by chain breaks, while 15% were due to sellers withdrawing after slow progress. There are various reasons why chains may fail, including:

Strategies to Avoid Entering a Property Chain

By taking measures to steer clear of entering a property chain, you can free yourself from reliance on other parties' transactions and minimize potential delays. Below are several effective approaches to avoid or minimize participation in a property chain:

  • If you're selling a property and receive multiple offers, prioritize selecting a buyer who is not currently engaged in a property chain. Choosing a first-time buyer would be an optimal choice.
  • Consider purchasing a new-build home instead to eliminate an upward chain. In this case, you will need to engage a new build conveyancing solicitor to facilitate the process. Some developers may even offer a part exchange option, where they purchase your old property to expedite the transaction. However, exercise caution regarding the offered price.
  • As a buyer, negotiate with the vendor to establish a fixed move-out date, regardless of whether they have secured another property. Some vendors may agree to this arrangement in order to avoid the risk of the sale falling through.
  • If you encounter difficulties getting an offer accepted as a buyer due to being involved in a property chain, consider selling your current property before purchasing another one. Although you may need to find temporary accommodations, such as private renting or staying with family or friends, this will make you an attractive chain-free buyer for potential sellers.
  • Prioritize researching whether there are online agents representing other properties in the chain when conducting a purchase. Be aware that some online agents may have limited or no staff dedicated to "progress chasing," resulting in more delays compared to traditional high street estate agents.
  • While searching for a property to buy, aim to find one with a short or nonexistent upward chain. This may involve targeting specific types of properties, such as those left vacant due to the previous owner's demise or properties classified as second homes by their sellers.
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