What Is a Property Chain, and How Can You Navigate It Effectively?

20th September 2023
Home > News > What Is a Property Chain, and How Can You Navigate It Effectively?

If you're considering relocating in Littleborough Rochdale or any other part of Greater Manchester, you may find it challenging to avoid becoming entangled in a property chain. Property chains are notorious for being a significant source of stress when moving homes, primarily because they can result in unforeseen complications in your sale that are beyond your influence.

In reality, though some property chains may indeed falter, the majority tend to resolve themselves, enabling everyone to transition smoothly into their ideal homes on the scheduled day. While it's impossible to foresee every potential issue within a property chain, there are proactive measures you can take to oversee and optimize your housing chain, potentially increasing its likelihood of success or even sidestepping it entirely.

If the prospect of participating in a property chain is causing hesitation in your decision to sell your Rochdale home, continue reading for a comprehensive overview of house chains in Greater Manchester. This information will provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.

What Is A Property Chain?

A property chain is, as you might expect, a number of linked transactions, which are all reliant on each other going through smoothly.


What Does "Chain-Free" or "No Chain" Mean?

"Chain-free" or "no chain" indicates that the property owners do not need to sell another property as part of the transaction, making the process typically more straightforward. Sometimes, you might also encounter the term "no onward chain," which essentially conveys the same idea. Properties are considered chain-free for a variety of reasons.

  • it is being sold because someone has died or gone into a care home
  • the owner is moving in with relatives or a partner
  • it’s a rental home that the landlord had decided to sell
  • It’s a new build property with no previous owner.

Who Is At The Top And Bottom Of A House Chain?

Property chains start with a first-time buyer who doesn’t have a property to sell and end with someone who is selling but not buying – for one of the reasons listed above.

What Is The Average Property Chain Length In The UK?

Because everyone’s circumstances are so different it is difficult to put a figure on the average UK property chain length. Many chains are quite short, for example, a first-time buyer purchasing a home from a family buying a larger home from an older person, who is moving in with relatives. This would be a chain of just two properties. In other cases, there may be 10 or more links in the chain.

How Do Property Chains Work?

For a property chain to work, each buyer completes all the steps in their purchase – the survey, mortgage approval, conveyancing etc – at the same time. The completion date for every link in the chain is the same, meaning that the transactions happen simultaneously.

What Are The Common Property Chain Problems?

Chains do sometimes break for a variety of reasons, which can’t always be predicted. The most common ones are:

  • Someone in the chain has a change of mind.
  • A survey throws up an issue that causes a buyer to pull out or leads to a delay.
  • A buyer’s mortgage offer falls through.
  • Someone in the chain has a change in personal circumstances – job loss, divorce, a death in the family.
  • Someone in the chain can’t find a buyer for their home.
  • The sale process takes so long that someone in the chain backs out.

How Do I Avoid Property Chain Problems?

You can’t always prevent onward chain problems, but you can maximise your chances of a smooth sale:

  • Be very pro-active in doing all you can to make your sale happen. Do all the legwork to instruct your solicitor, order your survey and get your mortgage approval as early as possible.
  • Have all documents, certificates and guarantees to hand and respond quickly to any enquiries. Sign and return any paperwork from your solicitor as soon as possible.
  • Choose both your estate agent and your conveyancing solicitor carefully – look for personal recommendations and a good record of managing sales in the Rochdale area – especially complex chains.

How Do I Avoid A Chain Altogether?

While most chains run smoothly, if you need to move quickly you might wish to restrict yourself to chain-free properties – but remember, this will limit your choice when it comes to finding a new home.

There are also ways to make yourself a chain-free seller. You may decide to sell then move in with friends or to rented accommodation, while you find a place to live. This has advantages for you as a buyer and a seller – making you a more attractive prospect – but it will mean moving twice and extra costs if you need to rent.

If you have the funds or are able to get a bridging loan, you could also buy before you sell, again helping you break the chain and avoid the disadvantages that come with it. But you need to weigh up the pros and cons.

If you're in the market for buying or selling property in the Littleborough Rochdale area, we are your local estate agency with a wealth of experience in handling property chains, ranging from straightforward transactions to more intricate ones. Feel free to get in touch with us to initiate a conversation about your upcoming home move or to request a no-obligation market appraisal of your property. We're here to assist you every step of the way.


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