Jump in chain-free house listings: Owners sell up and rent to make themselves more attractive buyers

Jump in chain-free house listings: Owners sell up and rent in bid to make themselves more attractive buyers

  • One in five properties listed for sale on Rightmove are now chain-free
  • Not having an onward chain can give buyers an advantage in a bidding war 
  • Buyers leaving cities for the sticks are also using renting to ‘try before they buy’

Property movers are increasingly selling up and moving into a short-term rental, in a bid to make themselves attractive, chain-free buyers.

More than one in five of properties (21 per cent) listed on Rightmove, the UK’s biggest online property portal, are now chain-free – a jump from 15 per cent this time last year.

Not having to sell their own home before completing may give a buyer an advantage in what is currently a highly competitive property market.

More movers are choosing to sell up and rent, in order to make them more attractive buyers

More movers are choosing to sell up and rent, in order to make them more attractive buyers

Last week, Rightmove said the UK was currently experiencing ‘the strongest sellers’ market in a decade’ as the number of people enquiring about available properties broke its all-time record. 

It said that landlords deciding to sell their rental properties had also contributed to the uptick in chain-free homes. This was due to falling rents, especially in London.

On the other side of the coin, homes that are being sold chain-free are also in demand as buyers rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. 

In February, the number of buyers searching for ‘no chain’ in Rightmove’s keyword sort tool was 72 per cent higher than in February 2020.

Because of this demand, selling a home without an onward chain may result in the vendor getting a better price.  

Rightmove data shows the number of chain-free homes has increased in every UK region

Rightmove data shows the number of chain-free homes has increased in every UK region

The percentage of chain-free homes available was up in all regions, according to Rightmove, but the biggest shift was in London where the figure jumped from 12 per cent of available homes this time last year to 21 per cent now.  

In the West and East Midlands, almost a quarter of homes are now being advertised as chain-free.  

‘I sold and am renting it back while I find another home’

One seller told This is Money that he has sold his flat on the Essex coast, as he is looking to buy a house and go a little more rural.

When he accepted the offer, it transpired to be a landlord who plans to rent the property. 

To help the sale along, they offered to rent it back to him at a reduced rate while he searched for another home, to not hold the process up.

‘I was a win-win really. I can now take my time and find the right home, without the pressure. I think that’s a good thing in this current property market,’ he said. 

Nationally, Rightmove said rental demand was 41 per cent higher in February than in the same month last year. 

As well as buyers wanting to be chain-free and secure the best price for their existing home, those who have chosen to move out of a city may also be renting first to make sure country life is definitely for them.

Those staying in London could also be looking to make use of the double-digit declines in rents in some areas until they find somewhere to buy.

Homes across the country are subject to bidding wars as demand has far exceeded supply. 

Currently, almost two out of three properties on an agents’ books are sold subject to contract.

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: ‘We know that one of the reasons sellers are often hesitant to come to market is because they can’t find somewhere that they want to buy.

‘But with record buyer demand and the stamp duty holiday being an added incentive for prospective buyers there seems to be a group of people who are choosing to sell up now and rent temporarily. 

‘Selling chain-free is perhaps something some owners hadn’t considered as a possibility before now, but with the competitive market and stock shortage we currently have they’re trying to put themselves in a more attractive position when their dream home comes along.’ 

Guy Gittins, chief executive of London estate agent Chestertons, added: ‘The family house market is incredibly competitive in London, and many sellers are willing to break the chain in order to become chain-free buyers and place themselves in the best position to secure a property when the right one comes up. 

‘There are a number of other reasons as well, including a number of landlords selling their buy-to-let investments due to falling rents, second home owners deciding to cash in on some of the additional value that has built up in their property, and sellers making their property more attractive to buyers who want to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline.’

Some renters, especially those leaving big cities for more rural locations, are also using it as an opportunity to ‘try out’ an area before moving there long-term.  

Oliver Custance Baker, property agent at Strutt & Parker in Exeter, said: ‘This is definitely something that we’ve seen particularly as current stock levels aren’t quite meeting levels of buyer demand. 

‘In the Tiverton area we have numerous buyers who are sitting in rented accommodation, not only so they can try out the area and the lifestyle on offer, but to make sure that they’re first in the door when something that ticks their required boxes comes onto the market.’

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