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5 Reasons a Home Sale Falls Through (& How You Can Swoop in and Get It)

House sale fallen through and now the property is back on the market? We demystify why house sales fall through and how you, as a buyer, can stay in the loop.

Faye deGavre


Nov 24, 2021


4 min read

5 Reasons a Home Sale Falls Through (& How You Can Swoop in and Get It)

Every so often, a home goes from “SSTC” to “back on the market”. Although the property market remains buoyant post-pandemic, hundreds of thousands of would-be home movers (around 1 in 5) see property purchases fall through every year. In these situations, you may wonder what derailed the sale – and can you make an offer now?

Once a buyer and seller agree on general purchase terms such as price and timing, they still need to settle a slew of details. Even after the allusive handshake, there are many ways a deal can crumble in the final stages of the process.

Why house sales fall through

1. The survey

A building survey or home buyer report can also pick up on issues that result in a buyer withdrawing. Issues such as subsidence, damp, asbestos, structural concerns or Japanese knotweed might be flagged by a surveyor. These problems could cause the buyer to panic and further negotiate the price. The seller could choose to 1) fix the identified problems, 2) credit the buyer so they can fix it themselves, 3) reduce the selling price of the property. The issue arises when the seller refuses to do any of these options, to which the buyer may simply retract their offer and walk away from the property.

Should you swoop in? Yellow light. Proceed with caution. If you’re eyeing up a home that returned to the market after a troubling inspection, you may consider making an offer if you can work the needed repairs into your budget. The seller may budge on price if they are ready for a successful sale.

2. Problems in the chain

Many buyers need the equity in their current home to purchase a new one. If their sale falls through, their next home purchase could grind to a halt or fall through altogether. It’s frustrating and disappointing for all involved.

Should you swoop in? Yes. Ideally, you’re in a good position to move (i.e., have already sold your house or are chain-free).

3. Finance issues

Buyer financing woes are among the biggest sale killers. The buyer may have a mortgage in principle, but that’s not guaranteed. If they can’t arrange a mortgage, they can’t buy the house. There could also be a change in the buyer’s financial picture, such as losing their job or new debt hitting their credit report.

Should you swoop in? Yes. This is a best-case scenario for other potential buyers as there weren’t any off-putting survey issues that caused the home sale to fall through.

4. Gazundering

Gazundering is the practice where a buyer opportunistically lowers their offer at the last minute before the exchange of contracts, with the seller too far down the road with their own purchase to pull out.

Gazumping is another unfortunate circumstance that can happen. This is when another party makes a higher offer on a property, which a buyer is in the process of purchasing, causing the initial buyer’s transaction to collapse.

Should you swoop in? Gazundering and gazumping are generally bad practice, and ones we don’t encourage. If the property you’ve been eyeing up returns to the market because of gazundering, then you could swoop in. After the ordeal, the seller may feel wary about history repeating itself, so when you make your best and final offer, don’t lower it later on down the line – for this house or any other property.

5. A change of heart

Buying a home can be very emotional. The buyer invests a substantial amount of money into what they hope is their dream home. They have to live in the house and community every day. Sometimes, they get cold feet. Buyer’s remorse can strike at any time, especially when things start to feel real.

Should you swoop in? Yes. This is another ideal situation for potential buyers because the property returns to the market for reasons not related to the actual home.

How often do house sales fall through?

How often and how many house sales fall through? It’s a good question to ask. The frequency of fall-throughs changes month by month, so there isn’t really a headline figure. Recent research shows that 1 in 5 property sales fallen through, though the figure varies.

Property sales are rarely straightforward. Even if you’re confident that you can swoop in and purchase a house sale that’s fallen through, it’s worth managing your expectations until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered (and it’s yours).

Keep tabs on the house sales that fall through

If you’ve missed out on a property you love, all is not lost. ChainMaker is an easy way to register your interest in homes that are already under offer or sold subject to contract. If the sale falls through, you can be the first to step in line and buy – before it’s officially for sale again. Simply toggle the ChainMaker tab in property listings to see recent SSTC homes and register your interest.

To see ChainMaker properties, start your search then toggle the switch at the top.

It’s a plus for sellers too. ChainMaker can help bring you some peace of mind should the sale fall through. When your Estate Agent is on Boomin, they have access to a list of motivated buyers who are interested in your home.

Start your search here.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer