A property chain is when there’s a line of more than one buyer and seller who are linked together because each of them is buying or selling a property from another.
For example, you might be in the process of buying a property from someone who can’t move out until they’ve bought a new home themselves. Or, if you’re not a first-time buyer, you might need to sell your home before you can finish buying your new one.
At one end of the chain, you’ll usually find a first-time buyer who doesn’t yet have a property of their own to sell. At the other end of the chain, you’ll find a seller who isn’t looking to buy a new property (or at least, who doesn’t need to sell their current property in order to buy a new one).
The Independent has previously reported that 85% of property transactions are part of a chain.
As there’s no maximum number of people that can be involved, it’s common to find chains that are made up of dozens of sellers and buyers. This can cause delays to the conveyancing process as you’ll have to wait for every seller and buyer to be ready before you can complete the property purchase and get the keys to your new home.
When you’re choosing a property to buy, ask the estate agent whether it’s part of a chain, and if so, see if you can find out how long it is. If you’re in a hurry to move in, finding a property that’s chain-free can make the process go much quicker.