What does 'Chain Free Property' mean when buying a property?
Find out what Chain Free Property means when you are buying a property. 'What does Chain Free Property mean?' plus over 150 other property related terms and jargon in plain English
Chain Free Property
Some properties are advertised as 'chain free'. What does it mean and is it a good thing?
Yes, is the short answer, it is a very good thing. Chain free means the seller, after accepting an offer, will sell as soon as the buyer is ready. They won't say "OK, great ... now I just need to find myself a place to buy ... ".
If you have to wait for the seller to find themselves a place to buy the actual process they go through of property hunting, offering and moving to exchange of contracts could take months and once they have somewhere we now have two transactions (known as a "Property Chain") that could go wrong.
If either transaction fails then everything "falls through" because neither transaction can happen without the other.
The chain analogy is a way of picturing a set of transactions which are all interlinked. Ms A is selling to Mr B who is selling to Mr C is a two property chain. Ms A is at the top of the chain (her property is "Chain Free"), Mr C is at the bottom of the chain (he is a "Chain Free Buyer").
Until Mr C is ready to exchange contracts with Mr B, Mr B can't exchange contracts with Ms A. If Mr C decides not to buy from Mr B after all then Mr B can't buy from Ms A. This would create a "broken chain".
Chains can involve any number of transactions - the highest number I have seen is 11 properties which means 12 different solicitors trying to get 12 piles of documents into order. This takes much longer than a simple transaction involving one buyer, one seller, one property and two solicitors. In this case the 11 property chain took nearly a year to all go through.
The chain broke at times, sometimes right in the middle when someone would decide not to sell (for work, family or whatever other reasons) so the person at the top of the newly broken chain would then have to go off and find a new property to buy.
This also meant the length of the chain constantly varied and different bits of the chain would be at different stages. Sometimes when one part of the chain announced they were ready it turned out other parts now had documents that were so old they were invalid and more delays were piled on.
But ... it did all go through in the end!
If you want to learn how to handle chains during your property purchase pick up a copy of my ebook How to Really Buy a Property.