Paul Halliwell, 27 June 2019
Q. Where were you selling, and where did you want to buy?
My girlfriend and I were fortunate enough to buy a one bed flat in Stoke Newington, London for £249,999 in 2013 – just before the stamp duty laws were changed. After living there for three lovely years we decided we would like to move a little further out to neighbouring Walthamstow, as it would be possible to use the money from this flat and buy a house with a spare room in case a baby came along.
Q. Who were you selling your property through?
After seeing several agents for valuations, we chose an independent high-street agent that specialises in Stoke Newington properties. Our one-bed flat with a private garden went up for sale at £400,000 and we had back-to-back viewings for over a month. As competition was so high, we thought we could wait and see what the best offer would be. Though, it’s worth mentioning that my girlfriend was now pregnant and so time was becoming an issue!
Q. How much did you sell for?
We accepted an offer for £405,000 by a lady with a very large deposit, which she had acquired through selling her property in South London. As such, she was also chain free. In the meantime, we had an offer accepted on a two-bed cottage in Walthamstow village.
Q. How complicated was the sale?
Being the second time we had trudged through the property sales process (though admittedly the first time we had been a seller), we had a lot of trusted people already in the right places: a mortgage broker, a solicitor, a moving company and a surveyor. We expected things could move along quite quickly. The one hold up was that we were waiting for the vendor of our purchase property to buy an empty property in Chingford. Hence, this was a four-property chain.
Q. How did it go?
The problems started after all the surveys had been done on our current and prospective properties. We were genuinely sat around waiting to swap contracts, but we still had no word about the property in Chingford. Our estate agents were chasing the agent and solicitor of the Walthamstow property and the Chingford property, calling them several times a day to try and get answers. You know something is wrong when it all goes quiet. Our agents were in a tough position as unless the sale went through, they wouldn’t get paid, and all that time would have been wasted, so they had to spend more and more time trying to find out what was going on.
Q. What happened?
Three months after agreeing the purchase of our property, I imagine seeds of doubt will have been growing in our buyer’s mind. Was £405,000 too much? Should I stay in South London and buy somewhere bigger? Is this taking so long because there is something wrong with the property? Should I look for another property? Regardless, she decided it wasn’t for her and pulled out, meaning we lost the property of our dreams in Walthamstow. We were devastated. During the time it took to resell our property the market competition in Walthamstow was so ridiculous, the properties we were aiming for became unaffordable. Also, the house move was now going to be around the same time my girlfriend was going to give birth.
Q. What caused the fall through?
To this day, we still have no idea what the hold-up was with the property/s along the chain. The worst thing was just the waiting, each week and each day, and the lack of information was so frustrating. After a while, it seemed to us that something was wrong, but nobody had any answers. We wasted so much time waiting, calling, emailing, and all for nothing. Our poor agents were in the same boat and had nothing to show for it. For me, it seems like the property sales process in the UK is still in the dark ages. I have never before encountered a process or product that has been less transparent and so overly complicated.
Q. After being shown View My Chain, what do you think?
I am no salesman, but for me, View My Chain just makes good, solid, rational, logical sense. I’m 30, and so have grown up utilising technology to make my life easier, so perhaps it’s simply a different perspective – I just want an easy life! View My Chain seems like an easy win for estate agents and people in my position. There’s a big black digital hole where information about house moves should be, and View My Chain fills it. I only wish it had existed a year before so I wouldn’t have wasted so much time waiting around, then I could have still found a property in the same area and not had to put my pregnant girlfriend under so much stress. To that point, I’d be very tempted to pick an estate agent based on the fact that they use View My Chain.