What to do when the sale of your house falls through at the last minute?


I think many of us have been in the scenario where your house sale falls through, which can of course be at the last minute. As annoying as it is, there’s not much you can do legally. But what should you do when the sale of your house falls through, especially at the last minute?

What to do when the sale of your house falls through large

What to do when the sale of your house falls through in brief:

If your house sale has just fallen through, first try to renegotiate with the buyer, but if this fails speak with your estate agent to re-market your house quickly to help prevent your onward purchase falling though. If you don’t want your onward purchase to fall through speak with a company that buys houses fast.

What to do when the sale of your house falls through in more depth

The first thing to do when and if your house sale falls through is to take a deep breath and not to panic.

Unfortunately the way in which the law works in England and Wales; until exchange of contracts your house sale can fall through at any time. Your first option might be to renegotiate with the buyer where appropriate.

For example, if the survey has pick up on a problem that could easily be fixed. Negotiate to reduce the price of your house for what the rectification will cost. If this isn’t the problem or if that doesn’t work, go back to your estate agent and start over.

However if this all happens at the last minute what do you do then, especially if you have your heart set on the house you’re moving to? One option is to use a company that will buy your house from you quickly. Doing this will mean you could still go ahead with your purchase, rather than have this fall through as well.

There are three main options open to you if your house sale falls through.

The following options are available if your house sale falls through:

  • Your first option is to renegotiate the price with your buyer. If the cause of them pulling out is where the survey has picked up on a damp problem, you could reduce what they pay for your house by the cost of completing these works. Or alternatively, you could offer to do the works before contracts are completed. You could also renegotiate the price if your house has been down-valued. But this is subject to how this affects your onward purchase.
  • Your second option is to go back to the drawing board and speak with your estate agent about putting your house back on the market. If you’ve lost the sale of your house might mean your onward home purchase may fall through also. This is unless you can sell your house quickly. It might be difficult to convince the sellers of the house you’re buyer to keep your purchase alive if this has happened at the very last minute.
  • The third option is to find a company that buys houses like we offer and negotiate with them to buy your house quickly. This option is certainly a great option if your house sale has fallen through at the last minute. This is especially true if you’re desperate to keep your house purchase going ahead.

So what happens if your buyer pulls out before exchange of contracts?

If your buyer pulls out before exchange of contracts, there’s not much you can do about this. The law in the England and Wales is such that; until you’ve exchanged contracts buyers can pull out of the sale at any time. This can and does sometimes happen at the very last minute. If this is the case, what can you do?

What are the reasons for house sales to fall through?

There are many reasons why your house sale might fall through, these include the following:

  • Your house has been down-valued by the valuer, which makes it impossible for your buyer to get the mortgage needed to buy your house.
  • The survey your buyer has done on your house may pick up on a problem you might not have been aware of beforehand. This might include a damp problem, Japanese Knotweed, structural movement and so on.
  • A change of heart by your buyers.
  • The buyers fail to obtain a mortgage.
  • A problem further up the conveyancing chain which forces your buyers to pull out.
  • There’s a problem picked up in the legals or on the searches made on your house by the buyer’s solicitor.

Depending on what the problem is and the reason for the sale to fall through, depends on what you might be able to do. So let’s now take a look at what you can do if your house sale falls though.

Do solicitors charge if house sale falls through?

There are some solicitors who don’t charge a fee if a house sale falls though. But if this is how your solicitor is happy to proceed, and your sales falls through they will charge for any disbursements incurred on your onward purchase like search fees.

The amount they may or may not charge you for a failed sale or purchase does depend on the stage at which the transaction is aborted. If for example, you are about to exchange contracts and this happens at the last minute, then your solicitor will have carried out a large part of the legal work at this stage. However, if this happens at the beginning stages of the process, the costs will be minimal.

If you are worried about this possibility, you can take out insurance for this, as some solicitors offer this at the start of the conveyancing.

Will my house sale fall through Coronavirus?

As I’m writing this article we are still in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many are worried that their house sale might fall through as a result of Coronavirus or Covid-19. This is a risk at the moment and the biggest problem will come when valuers begin to down-value properties at the valuation stage.

As already discussed above, if your house is down valued by the valuer for the purposes of your buyer’s mortgage, this may mean they mortgage lender will not longer lend. This will depend on the loan to value (i.e. how much of a percentage the mortgage is of the bricks and mortar value). But even if the mortgage isn’t a problem, the buyers may not wish to pursue the purchase at the agreed price if the value comes in lower.

If you are able to, you may need to renegotiate the price. However, this may have a knock-on effect on your onward house purchase.

I hope this article has helped about what to do when the sale of your house falls through

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Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below too. Alternatively, if you need more help, please feel free to contact us on our contact us page here. Or join the discussion and ask your question in the property forum.

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