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How Long Does it Take to Buy a House With No Chain in 2024?

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Jonathan Rolande

3rd Jan 2023 (Last updated on 11th Apr 2024) 8 minute read

It could take up to 4 weeks to complete the conveyancing process when buying a house with no chain. However, it is difficult to provide an exact average for the length of time the entire buying process will take with no property chain.

It takes an average of 6 months to sell a house from first listing your property with an agent or property portal, to the purchaser moving in. Despite the moving house timeline remains the same, not being in a property chain reduces the delays as your purchase isn’t dependent on other transactions. This can greatly speed up the process as you’re not waiting for other transactions to finish before moving on with your own.

Compare My Move has created this guide to aid you in understanding what a property chain is and how it affects the length of time it takes to buy a house. We will also discuss buying and selling a property with no chain and how this can decrease the risk of delays.

  1. What is a Property Chain?
  2. Buying a House With No Chain
  3. Tips For Buying a House with No Chain
  4. Selling a House With No Chain
  5. Why Can Property Chains Fail?
  6. How to Avoid Getting into a Property Chain

What is a Property Chain?

A property chain is a line of buyers and sellers linked together because their transactions depend on each other. Any delays encountered within the chain will ultimately delay the other transactions. When you’re buying a property, you’re becoming another link in a property chain. Being a part of a chain can become problematic if the other sales involved are delayed.

As each vendor will need an estate agent, mortgage lender, conveyancer, surveyor and so on, there are usually many people involved in one chain. This means that if one person delays the process, then the whole chain will potentially be delayed also. The chain can only progress as quickly as its slowest link, which is why it’s important to listen to the professionals involved and to gather all the necessary documentation beforehand.

However, if you see ‘chain-free’ or ‘no chain’ on the details of a property for sale, it means a vendor doesn’t need to buy another property when they’re selling their old one. This means that they aren’t waiting on anyone else before completing the transaction and thus, are not in a property chain. For example, first-time buyers are chain-free.

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Buying a House With No Chain

There is no definitive answer for how long it’ll take to buy a house with no chain. However, it will likely be a much quicker process as it reduces the risk of delays. The basic timeline for buying a house is as follows:

  1. Save for a deposit
  2. Find the right property
  3. Instruct a conveyancer
  4. Apply for a mortgage
  5. Arrange a property survey
  6. Exchange contracts
  7. Complete
  8. Moving day

It can take anywhere between 12 weeks and 6 months to buy a house when within a property chain, with 8-12 of these weeks needed to complete the conveyancing process alone. Depending on your personal situation and any complications that may arise, being chain-free should significantly lower the length of this timeline. By purchasing a property without a chain, the length of the conveyancing process alone could be cut down to just 4 weeks.

Tips For Buying a House with No Chain

1. Find a verified and dedicated solicitor

To ensure the legal side of the sale is completed quickly and accurately, it’s important to compare conveyancing quotes before choosing an experienced, professional and qualified conveyancing solicitor. Whilst there could still be the risk of issues causing delays even without a chain, an experienced conveyancer will know how to handle things, ensuring a smoother transaction.

When looking for the right solicitor for buying a house, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to as you’ll want the best professionals for the job. As tempting as it may be, try to not immediately go for the cheapest option available. Lower prices don’t always mean better services.

2. Keep an open line of communication

It’s important you make yourself available where possible when completing the process - any delays could slow down the transaction. Ensure you keep a constant line of communication open with your conveyancer and estate agent and ensure you always provide feedback when required.

3. Have the appropriate funds available

The cost of buying a house can be high as there are a number of fees included. Your chosen conveyancer will likely explain many of the costs included to you to help you get organised. Before continuing with the transaction, make sure you can cover these costs and have the funds available to complete the transaction.

If you cannot cover the conveyancing fees included, it may result in vital steps being missed out - for example, you might find that without paying the appropriate fees, factors such as stamp duty and local searches are not completed. This can greatly delay the process.

4. Be organised with your paperwork

You will be required to sign a number of documents when buying a house, such as the conveyancing searches and final contracts. The more you stay on top of this paperwork, the quicker the process can be completed. Your conveyancer should clearly communicate the next steps required from you when it comes to legal paperwork for the transaction.

5. Compare removal quotes early

Another tip for buying a house with no chain is to compare removal quotes as early as possible, especially for a long-distance house move. As there is no property chain involved in the transaction, the buying process can be completed fairly quickly, providing there are no sudden delays. Due to this, it would be wise to prepare for your moving date as soon as possible.

6. Use a professional property buyer

Companies like House Buy Fast have a team of property buying experts to help with a variety of property sales. This can help if you need a quick sale and want to avoid getting involved in a chain.

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Selling a House With No Chain

To lower the length of your property chain, you may want to consider selling your property before purchasing a new one. Not only can this reduce the risk of delays that are often associated with property chains, but it can also free up your finances and allow you to put down a bigger deposit.

However, if you do decide to sell before purchasing a new house, you will need to consider the contract’s terms and conditions before signing. Many buyers will expect vacant possession upon completion, meaning you and your belongings must be moved out of the property before the completion date. To keep the length of the property chain down, you will need to find alternative accommodation and perhaps storage solutions for your items.

Why Can Property Chains Fail?

An issue with property chains, especially long ones, is that each link is a vendor with their own team of professionals. This means that there are ample opportunities for delays to occur. As you’ll be dependent on the other transactions, whatever delays occur in other links in the chain will inevitably delay you too.

According to data by Quick Move Now, 13% of failed property sales were due to a break in the chain and 15% due to the seller pulling out after slow progress. There are numerous reasons why a chain may fail, including:

  • A survey provides bad results, revealing issues with a property
  • A member of the chain changes their mind about a sale or purchase
  • A buyer fails to get a mortgage loan
  • Someone in the chain has a change of personal circumstances e.g. they split with their partner or fall ill
  • There are delays with completing the necessary paperwork

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How to Avoid Getting into a Property Chain

By avoiding getting into a property chain, you won’t be dependent on other parties’ transactions, thus limiting the number of delays you could face. Here are a few ways you can avoid being in a chain or, at least, avoid being in a long one:

  • When selling a property, if you receive multiple offers, try to choose a buyer who isn’t already in a property chain. A first-time buyer would be an ideal candidate. A first-time buyer typcially use solicitors, since they have not had the previous experience of buying a house.
  • As they have no upward chain, you could consider purchasing a new-build home instead. In these instances, you will have to find a new build conveyancing solicitor to assist you. If you have an old property to sell, some developers may offer a part exchange where they buy your old property to speed up the process. However, always be wary of the price they offer.
  • For those buying a property from a vendor, you could ask them to set a date on which they’re prepared to move out, whether they’ve bought another property or not. Some may agree to avoid the risk of the sale falling through.
  • If you’re a buyer struggling to get an offer accepted as you’re already in a property chain, then it could be worth considering selling your property before buying another. You would have to find temporary accommodation, perhaps privately renting or staying with family or friends. But it would mean you’d be a chain-free buyer, making yourself more appealing to sellers.
  • When buying, try to find out if there are online agents selling homes elsewhere in the chain. Some online agents have few or no staff dedicated to ‘progress chasing’ - these tend to have more delays than links in the chain using traditional High Street estate agents.
  • When buying a property, you could try finding one with a short or no upward chain. This would mean finding certain types of properties like ones where the previous owner has died, leaving it empty, or properties that are second homes for their sellers.
Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Jonathan Rolande

Reviewed by Jonathan Rolande

Founder and Director, NAPB and House Buy Fast

Forming the National Association of Property Buyers in 2013, Jonathan Rolande is also the Director of House Buy Fast.