Did Your House Sale Fall Through At The Last Minute?

When you’re selling your house, you probably don’t even want to think about what will happen if the house sale falls through. However, the shocking reality is that up to a quarter of all schedule property sales don’t make it to the finish line. This means it pays to think about what you’ll do if your own house sale falls through. As well as considering all possible options, including a fast sale for cash.

Below, we go through all the main questions you might have about why and how property sales fall through. As it turns out, there are certain common factors that predispose a sale to failure. In addition, you must think about your obligations to any estate agent you work with. Including canvassing all the options you have to rearrange a sale. This is especially important if you need to sell quickly and to a deadline. More so important when you have a new job to start or to pay off a debt.

Reasons Why House Sales Fall Through And How To Prevent It

We can’t say with confidence what might cause the sale process to fail in your case. After all, no two sales are the same. Nevertheless, in our experience, there are certain disruptive factors that crop up in dozens of cases each year. Here are the most common, along with some top tips on how to avoid them.

Buyer Changes Their Mind

Since you’re unlikely to have a preexisting relationship with your buyer, you’ll often have no warning signs that they might back out. People can decide not to pursue a purchase for a huge variety of reasons. Some suddenly lose their jobs while others are facing divorce. Unfortunately, the buyer may simply decide they don’t like the look of the place.

How To Avoid:

  • As a seller, keep your property well-maintained, clean and aired.
  • Regularly check in with the buyer to see that everything is progressing as planned.
  • Where possible, push for the earliest completion date you can.

Buyer Doesn’t Have Finances In Order

In spite of the best of intentions, the unexpected can happen. A buyer can discover at any stage of the purchase process that they just don’t have the funds. Sometimes this is because a mortgage application is declined because the prospective buyer doesn’t match the criteria, but at other times life just throws the buyer a curveball.

How To Avoid: 

  • Don’t accept a potential buyer’s offer without seeing the paperwork proving their financial solvency
  • Encourage buyers to get a six-month, in-principle mortgage agreement in place.

Property Chain Break

When we talk about a broken property chain, what we mean is when one person in a long chain of transactions fails to hold up their position. Often, a few people are depending on sales for your sale to go through. This chain can break at any point and in any place – with catastrophic consequences for all.

How To Avoid: 

  • Keep a close eye on your own financial situation to ensure you don’t break the chain
  • As a buyer, always ask about the relevant property chain before making a commitment to purchase 
  • Ask your estate agent for consistent updates
  • Clearly advertise the lack of property chain if your sale doesn’t depend on one.
  • Keep us in mind, as we offer a chain break rescue service.


In a competitive property market, people don’t always play fair. An especially common problem is losing out on a sale after someone accepts your offer. This is greatly frustrating because the seller opts to go with someone offering a higher price. This is known as “gazumping”.

How To Avoid: 

  • Don’t simply accept gazumping – try to offer rational reasons to proceed.
  • Request that a property is removed from the market as soon as an agreement is reached.
  • Show your seller why you’re a good prospect (e.g., you’re financially stable, you’re not in a property chain).
  • Ask a conveyancing lawyer to draw up agreement paperwork as quickly as possible.

No Buyer Interest

Whether you’re selling at a quiet time of year, trying to shift a less attractive property, or are trying to make a sale at a time when the market is tough, it’s possible to attract very little interest in your home. 

How To Avoid: 

  • Aim to sell in the busiest seasons of the year – spring and summer
  • Enlist an express estate agency to try and draw viewers to your property to make a quick sale
  • Repair any damage and replace old furnishings in the property.

Issues With The Property Survey

You might know all of the pros and cons about your home, but you’ll be surprised to learn more. Almost everyone is surprised by some aspect of the property survey. In the most extreme cases, too many structural or aesthetic deficiencies can lead to a chain break. When this happens fairly late on in the selling process, it wastes everyone’s time.

How To Avoid: 

  • Be transparent with any issues you are already aware of. Do not mislead your buyer when it comes to the home survey
  • Sellers should preemptively help the survey to be carried out quickly to avoid and counteract problems where necessary
  • Sellers should also work to keep their property in sellable shape.

Conveyancing Delays

Even if you think you’ve arranged a conveyancer in plenty of time, you may be thrown by delays that come up in the process. Such periods of slow progress can be about some aspect of your property, but they may also be because of some other home further down the property chain.

How To Avoid: 

  • Call a conveyancer way ahead of schedule to ensure everything will be wrapped up on time.
  • Ask around to find the best, most efficient conveyancers.

Uncertainty Of Market Conditions

Everything affects the market, from who is in power to whether there’s a pandemic or a natural disaster. Sellers and buyers alike can find themselves stressed and frustrated as a result. When unable to shift a property or unable to get hold of one they can afford creates more frustration.

How To Avoid: 

  • Put off the sale or the purchase until better times if you can
  • Ask yourself how low you can drop the price to get rid of the property you want to sell quickly
  • Approach a quick cash buyer for an easy, efficient sale instead.

Do Estate Agents Have To Tell You Why A Sale Fell Through?

Due to the regulatory code they are bound by, your estate agent needs to participate in  “open, honest, clear and timely sharing of relevant information.” In particular, all sellers should be told of the dates and context in which failed sales occurred. This rule was instituted in 2013 and promotes transparency on the property market.

Do Solicitors Charge If A House Sale Falls Through?

There are solicitors who always charge a fee, regardless of whether a successful sale is made, or the house sale falls through at the last minute. In contrast, there are other solicitors who will only ask you to pay if they manage to arrange a sale. This, however, doesn’t mean you get all of their services free of charge. For example, you may be liable to pay for any third-party associated costs (e.g., for ID verification processes and search fees). Consequently, your very first conversation with a potential solicitor should involve an explicit discussion of all possible fees – especially what you can expect to pay if a sale isn’t made.

What Are Estimated Costs Incurred Of A House Sale That’s Fallen Through And Failed?

In 2018, the estimated cost of the average collapsed property sale was approximately £3,000 – and with the competitiveness of the market, we can expect the average cost to rise each year. The majority of the expense is associated with paying lawyers for their time and paying for appropriate marketing of the property. Plus, there is an emotional cost for the seller, as well as a sense of wasted time.

What Can I Do If My House Sale Falls Through?

It’s always stressful if a property sale doesn’t work out and your house sale falls through, but the key to surviving it is being prepared. Here, are the three most salient options you have to choose from in the event that your plans to sell collapse before all the papers are signed.

Sell Your Property Through An Estate Agent

Most people selling a property opt to go with an estate agent. The benefits include being able to offload a lot of responsibility to the estate agency, who will take care of all of the marking and most of the legal paperwork too. On the other hand, if you’ve already got a failed sale on your record, the uncertainty of estate agents may leave you unsatisfied. They can’t promise anyone will view your home, let alone purchase it. And if you do make a sale, the average estate agent takes a pretty hefty cut of the sale price – in many cases as much as up to 2.5%.

Sell Your Property Privately

When you sell your property privately, no one else gets a cut of the sale price and you have total control. You can also save a lot of money you would otherwise have paid to outsource the sale responsibility to an estate agent. Nevertheless, you have to be willing to spend a lot of time and energy on selling your property if you choose to go private. You also either need to have property market expertise, or be willing to do some serious reading. In other words, if you want to sell quickly and within a minimum of fuss, this isn’t the right path.

Sell Your Property To A Cash Property Buyer

If you want the low costs of a private sale and the low responsibility of an estate agent sale, there is a third option that might work for you – selling your home to a quick cash buyer. Within days of contacting us, we’ll make you an offer and get your sale arranged – all without any extra costs. We’ll even provide free legal representation and a professional property valuation. So, if your ideal scenario is one where you sell your property without the hassle, without the possibility that your house sale falling through at the last minute, allowing you to focus on your future, we could offer just the service you need.

To find out more, contact us at Sell Quickly today.