How to keep a property chain moving

So what is a chain, anyway?

A property chain is a term used to describe a group of buyers and sellers, who are buying and selling properties from each other. Each party is linked together in a ‘chain’. The chain has a beginning, for example a first-time buyer, and an end, someone who is selling and is not buying on, commonly because they are moving in to rented or the property is already vacant. The rest of the chain is made up of people who need to both buy and sell.

In theory, there could be any number of links in a given property chain, and that’s what can make them so problematic.

If one person forgets to return a signed document on time, the whole process could be delayed for everyone. Worse still, if just one person changes their mind about their purchase or has their mortgage application rejected, the chain breaks down completely.

Your chain can only move at the pace of the slowest party. So what can you do to prevent everything from grinding to a complete standstill?

Keeping your house chain moving

Each party, or ‘link’ in the chain will have their own estate agent and conveyancer. Part of their remit is to keep things moving efficiently and to chase things up if there are any delays. After all, it’s in everyone’s interests to get the transaction completed as quickly as possible.

However, some firms are better than others when it comes to managing the home-moving process. Not all estate agencies have staff dedicated to progressing sales. And if you opt to use a full-service solicitor as opposed to a specialist conveyancer, you might find that they’re juggling lots of different clients and priorities.

If you have reason to believe that your move could be progressing more quickly, there are things you can do to help get it back on track.

1. It’s good to talk

Speak to your conveyancer to see if you can help with contacting people who are holding things up. But remember, diplomacy and a friendly tone will get you a lot further than sending frustrated missives written in capital letters!

If this isn’t possible, seek assurances from your conveyancer – find out who will be contacting the other parties and when. Request updates at their earliest convenience.

2. Don’t be the guilty party!

We all lead busy lives, and moving house just adds an extra layer of stress (and a few dozen items to our ‘to do’ lists!) so it’s all too easy to forget about that unopened envelope on the kitchen worktop…

The best way to keep a chain moving as quickly and efficiently as possible is to do your bit. Check your messages, respond to emails, sign documents and send information as quickly as possible. You may even want to deliver documents by hand, courier or special delivery.

Make a point of reviewing your tasks on a daily basis. If your ‘to do’ list is empty, call your conveyancer and ask if there’s anything else you could be doing.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

If you’ve chosen a good conveyancer (and you can find advice about how to do that here), they’ll be happy to talk to you whenever and however it suits you. Many ‘modern’ conveyancers offer later opening hours and can be contacted at the weekend, to make things easier for clients who work full-time during the week. Some even offer online case tracking tools, so you can login at any time to see the progress of your move. The key is to stay well informed and keep communicating.

4. Be prepared

If you’re buying, it’s a good idea to get your mortgage offer in place early, to avoid unnecessary delays. If you haven’t moved home for a while, you may underestimate how long this part of the process takes. These days, lenders scrutinise mortgage applications in much more detail than they used to, and they may well come back to you several times to request information. Make sure you have all your paperwork ready and available.

For advice on choosing a conveyancer and keeping your property chain moving, just get in touch.

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