Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience, especially if the process is delayed or a move falls through.
A new survey commissioned by the government has revealed the full financial extent of failed transactions.
Here, we take a look at the key findings of the research, including how some movers faced unexpected costs of up £1,500.
Legal processes slowing down moves
The research, which surveyed 2,000 home movers in England and Wales, found that around four in ten buyers and sellers felt exchanging contracts took longer than they expected.
Around half of sellers said they experienced delays of five weeks or more, and four in ten incurred additional costs – such as paying rent for temporary accommodation or storage fees.
The table below shows the typical cost of a delay for a buyer, seller and those involved on both sides in a chain.
|Average cost incurred by delay|
|Seller and buyer||£919|
|Buyer and seller||£714|
Movers most commonly blamed delays on solicitors, with nearly half of buyers and six in ten sellers blaming the other side’s legal team.
Those in a chain were most likely to experience delays, and stalled transactions were more common for people buying flats or apartments.
Why do property sales collapse?
The government estimates that around 400,000 transactions fall through each year.
Sellers, meanwhile, claimed that buyers having insufficient funds was a key reason for transactions falling through.
Movers paying £1,000 when deals fall through
While six in ten movers lost less than £750 when transactions collapsed, a quarter paid £1,000 or more.
Buyers were more likely to face financial detriment than sellers – with more than seven in ten losing money on surveys and valuations.
Sellers also claimed to lose money on legal fees, and faced additional costs on the property they were moving to.
What’s being done about it?
The government launched an eight-week consultation on 22 October to find ways to improve the process of buying and selling.
It primarily focuses on four areas of concern; gazumping, trust, speed and the information offered to buyers and sellers.
Responding to the announcement, Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘The current home buying process is outdated and flawed’.
‘The government must put consumers first, ensuring that estate agents deliver a better service for both home buyers and sellers and that the conveyancing process is simplified.’
How to improve your buying or selling journey
Whether you’re buying a home or selling up, check out the advice and tips on Which? Money to help it go smoothly.