How to avoid the pitfalls of property sales

Buying or selling a house is one of the most stressful things we do in life, with house hunters arguing that it’s worse than planning a wedding (49 per cent), finding a new job (48 per cent) and being made redundant (30 per cent).

This stress can be caused by several different things, many of which are out of the buyer’s and seller’s control,

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NAEA Propertymark asked its members to list aspects that could damage the sale of a property, to help promote a stress-free experience.

Buyer’s remorse

Once someone decides to buy a property, there’s nothing stopping them from pulling out further down the line. If this happens, everyone in the chain is affected, and the sale could fall through.

Although there is nothing to stop this happening, it is worth asking your estate agent for their views on the mindset of the seller, to gauge the likelihood of them seeing the purchase through.


Solicitors are integral to any property transaction, and it’s important you instruct someone you can trust – but if any solicitors in the chain are slow, the whole sale can be drawn-out.

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Ensure you’re being as efficient as possible yourself and aren’t sitting on documents for too long. You can make sure things are continuously moving at your end.


This is when a seller finds a buyer willing to pay more money after your offer has been accepted. It can happen at any time before contracts have been exchanged and leave buyers without a home to purchase.

Although this is mostly price-driven, it can sometimes be triggered by other frustrations caused by delays or issues. To try and avoid being gazumped, ensure you have a mortgage in principle agreed before you make your offer, a solicitor ready to go, and all the relevant documentation in place.

Delays in the chain

Unless you’re a first-time buyer, it’s unlikely your property is chain-free, and with so many parties involved, it’s important you’re doing what you can to keep the transaction moving. Simple things like missing a call from your solicitor, or not sending back paperwork immediately can hold up the chain and frustrate your buyer and seller.

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Accept that normal life may need to take a back seat until you have exchanged contracts, and make sure you’re fully contactable – even if you’re on holiday.

Small disputes

Emotions run high when you’re buying or selling a home, and those involved in transactions often find themselves squabbling over small issues. It’s important to instruct a good survey and take the findings of that seriously; for example, if there’s a damp problem in the roof, it’ll cost you money to fix in the future, so you may want to negotiate money off your offer.

However, there are some issues which don’t require such negotiations such as white goods, fixtures and fittings. In the grand scheme of things, you may not want them to leave their washing machine behind, but you can dispose of it, and engaging in a dispute could cost you the property.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “Around a third of property transactions fall through between the offer being accepted and the exchange of contracts. So, concerns from buyers and sellers that this will happen to them are entirely justified and stem from the fact the home buying and selling process is outdated.

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"We know the issue is high on the Government’s agenda, but it does need urgent reform to give buyers and sellers peace of mind when they enter a property transaction. There are several things you can do to try and avoid your sale falling through though. For example, use a Propertymark Protected estate agent who will guide you through the process and help you navigate any unexpected events.”

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