- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 03 Jun 2018
Each member of the chain is both selling and buying a property, other than those at the beginning, who are only buying, and those at the end, who are only selling. There can many people involved in a property chain, each with an estate agent, solicitor, surveyor, mortgage lender, and so on.
Property chains develop because a homebuyer will generally need to sell their current home in order to finance the purchase of a new home. The seller of the home they are buying will generally require the sale to finance their own new house purchase, and so on.
A property chain can be a slow and complicated process and can frequently collapse. If one particular party is delaying the process, it will impact upon the entire chain, therefore, the chain will only progress at the pace of the slowest link. It is the responsibility of the respective solicitors to ensure that the chain progresses towards its conclusion.
Some of the variables that can result in a chain collapsing include:
- One of the buyers or sellers in the chain decides not to move.
- One of the buyers or sellers has a change of circumstances.
- One of the buyers is blocked from obtaining a mortgage.
- A property survey reveals problems.
- A conveyancer takes too long to complete the necessary paperwork.
- One of the partie’s fails to sign required documents on time.
Some property chains can be much easier than others:
- If a seller has several offers to choose from they may opt for the buyer who is not in a chain trying to sell their existing home (e.g. a first-time buyer or a cash buyer).
- A new-build home is often purchased directly from a developer so does not have an upward chain.
- There may be no upward chain if a seller is selling a home that is empty.
- If one or more parties are flexible and do not require a new house to be purchased before being able to sell their existing home (for exampe if they pan to rent).
A common phrase relating to property chains is ‘no upward chain’, which means that the seller is not waiting to complete a purchase for a new home. However, there may still be a chain below them.
The phrase ‘chain-free’ means that neither buyer nor seller are waiting for another transaction to be completed. This most commonly applies to the process that exists between a first-time buyer and a new-build developer.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Rebuilding could take 20 to 40 years.
RSHP’s high-rise residential towers win a tall buildings award for excellence.
BSRIA study reveals strong growth in 2018.
Dame Judith Hackitt confirmed as keynote speaker – one year on from the Hackitt Report.
Save £100 on tickets.
Modern slavery in the construction sector.
What to bear in mind when claiming damages in construction.
How do we achieve sustainable clean-water infrastructure for all?
What you should know when appointing an architect.
A brief history plus some new developments.
How computational fluid dynamics (CFD) helps building design.
The Hong Kong Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS).
'Expressions of interest' for construction contracts.