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Problems when selling a house

Troy Stevens 11 April 2022

A property sale falling through can elicit some pretty strong emotions from the most level-headed among us. These can range from disappointment to downright rage.

But the worst part? You've probably lost around £2,500 in the failed transaction – the average amount that sellers lose on a house sale that falls through. 

It's OK – you're not alone. 1 in 4 property transactions fall through in the UK, so if it's any consolation, it's happening to lots of us.

Let's look at some of the problems you might encounter when selling a home – and what you can do to protect yourself.

It's not selling

Talk about falling at the first hurdle. 

If you see tumbleweed after your listing goes live, try not to panic. It could be down to anything from incorrect categorisation (such as your agent accidentally listing 30 bedrooms rather than 3) to terrible photos that make your spacious mid-terrace look like a Hobbit hole.

So, what's a seller to do?

Liaise with your agent. Make sure the listing accurately represents what's on offer – and have the photos re-done if you feel it necessary – and the clicks should follow.

On that note – you might be asking too much – literally. This is subjective and ultimately your decision, but if several different agents have told you the price might be too high AND you've had minimal interest, consider going lower for a swifter sale.

Waiting for the right offer

Even if the price is right and your listing generates interest, it can still take time for the right offer to come through. 

According to the Homeowner's Alliance (HOA), depending on how hot the market is, it can take up to ten weeks from listing to an accepted offer. So, sit tight!

Conveyancing throws up a curveball

When selling a property, you'll need to instruct a conveyancer to ensure the legal ownership passes to you smoothly. This process includes checking documents and liaising with the Local Authority on access issues, possible ground or atmospheric contamination and unresolved disputes.

Most often, conveyancing goes without a hitch. Sometimes, though, instructing a conveyancer can take longer than expected, so do it early in the process (even before you accept an offer). 

Further, this process can sometimes uncover nasties such as Japanese knotweed, undesirable new plans for roads or nearby structures, or even a ban on erecting a garden shed – which can throw up issues in the selling process.

The home survey flags issues

When you sell, a surveyor will check things like the building's structural integrity and general condition. This is when you keep your fingers crossed you won't hear frightening phrases like 'rising damp', 'structural movement' and 'wood-boring insects'.

Problems at this stage can be a real blow, causing your buyer's mortgage lender to withdraw or change what they're prepared to offer and putting the process of selling to that particular buyer on pause.

There's a hold-up in the chain

You'll most likely need to wait for your buyer to sell their property before you can proceed with your sale to them. Some sellers get lucky with a buyer in rented accommodation (hence a short notice period) or even a cash buyer (lucky you!) – but this is the exception, not the rule. 

If you're selling your home to move to a new place, you're also at the mercy of any chain the seller may have, meaning it might not be ready at the right time. 

If you haven't found your dream place yet, consider renting on a rolling basis, so you are better positioned to snap up a place after you've sold yours.

Estate agents or solicitors going quiet

If you've ever sold a house before, you might remember being 'ghosted' by your agents or solicitors at random times during the process. This can cause delays of up to several weeks.

Try to keep a cool head and not take it personally – they're likely just really busy. However, don't be afraid to call and chase things along.

Problems on the buyer's end

It might be a string of administrative procedures which, if everything turns like clockwork, technically shouldn't take very long.

However, this is real life we're talking about. Selling a house is subject to so many variables – and the timelines of the buyer and seller (not to mention their respective chains) rarely align. 

Truthfully, anything can happen to interrupt a home sale – from your buyer taking ill, them being made redundant, changing their mind about moving or even passing away.

The good news is that there is help out there to help cover your costs if something does happen beyond your control to interrupt the selling process and leave you out of pocket.

How can I protect myself when selling my home?

If you're selling a property, you need to know about Home Seller's Protection Insurance.

Home Sellers Protection Insurance is a safety net to stop you from losing the upfront costs you've already paid for should your home sale fall through.

It covers things like:

  • solicitor's fees and conveyancing fees up to a value of £1,650
  • the costs of structural issues to your property where rectification work is valued at over 10% of the offer you have accepted 
  • the cost of the searches if your buyer has a search result that prevents the property sale from going through
  • the homebuyer being made redundant, experiencing a failed relocation or even passing away.

Who needs Home Seller's Protection Insurance?

Absolutely anybody selling a property can benefit. So, whether you're a first-time buyer or an experienced landlord, Home Seller's Protection Insurance is for you. Whether you're selling a flat or apartment, private home or buy-to-let residence – you can benefit from Home Seller's Protection Insurance.

Of the 1 in 4 property sales that fall through in the UK, most people stand to lose thousands of pounds in upfront fees. With Home Seller's Protection Insurance, you can relax knowing that you're covered if something goes wrong with your sale. 

You can get covered by Home Seller's Protection Insurance before you've accepted an offer or within seven days of an accepted offer.

Talk to Rhino Home Protect today – and get cover in place in minutes.

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