What Is a Property Chain?

A property chain is a series of interconnected property sales that need to happen simultaneously. For instance, when you’re buying a house from someone who, in turn, is buying a new house, and so on, you’re part of a property chain. As a homebuyer, it’s highly likely that you’ll find yourself involved in a chain. There may be people both above and below you in the chain, and their property transactions can impact your own.

The longer the property chain, the greater the chances of something going wrong and causing a link in the chain to break. Even first-time buyers, who aren’t directly linked to someone below them, can be affected because the sellers of the house they’re buying might be influenced by the sellers of the house they, in turn, are purchasing. This is known as an ‘onward chain.’

At Attwells, we understand that buying a home is already a stressful process, and the last thing you want is for unexpected issues to disrupt your property chain. That’s why we’ve made efforts to minimise chain-related problems and offer expert conveyancing services, accompanied by excellent client care as evidenced by reviews on Feefo.

Reasons a Chain May Collapse

The most common reasons for a property chain to collapse include:

  1. A seller accepting a higher offer at the last minute.
  2. A buyer reducing their offer just before the exchange.
  3. A buyer being denied a mortgage.
  4. A buyer or seller changing their mind.
  5. A property survey revealing issues that a buyer deems unacceptable.
  6. Unforeseen events, such as job loss or illness.

While some of these issues are beyond your control, effective communication is essential and can help prevent many potential problems. Additionally, there’s homebuyer insurance available that can protect you and provide compensation if a purchase falls through.

Preventing Chain Breaks

To prevent chain breaks, consider these strategies:

  1. Maintain open communication with solicitors, estate agents, and mortgage brokers. Building a rapport makes it harder for someone to back out.
  2. Stay organised to ensure a smooth and quick transaction, reducing the chance of things going wrong.
  3. Be flexible – if someone in the chain faces financial difficulties, consider agreeing on a lower price with everyone involved.
  4. Ensure your finances are in order before making an offer.
  5. Address concerns promptly to expedite resolutions.
  6. Discuss timeframes early on to ensure everyone is clear about your expectations.

Property chains are often unavoidable due to circumstances, but finding yourself stuck in one can be stressful and expensive. If one person drops out, the whole chain could collapse. The primary way to avoid this is to sell your current property before buying a new one. This way, you’re not relying on the sale of one house to fund the next, and you’ll know exactly how much you can spend on your new property, independent of achieving a particular price for your existing one.

However, this approach has some drawbacks, such as potentially having to rent for an extended period if you can’t find a new property quickly or facing higher costs if property prices increase while you’re still looking.

At Attwells, we prioritise providing excellent customer care and keeping our clients informed throughout the transaction to minimise stress and uncertainty.


Our blogs and articles are correct at the time of writing. These have been created for marketing purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice.