London and North West face biggest house sale risk

Ramesh Sharma

April 22, 2006

Research has found that half of all failed house sales over the past five years come from the London and North West areas, despite them accounting for just under 25 per cent of property sales throughout England and Wales in this time. Spring Move estimated that this affected over 1.2 million people.

This contrasts with the South East, which has the lowest percentage of house sale failures in relation to actual sales. This area makes up 23.5 per cent of property sales, but had just under 6 per cent failed house sales.

The research also suggests that up to 150,000 failed sales a year could involve gazumping. Stephen Foden, chairman of Spring Move, said: “At the moment we have a massive problem of not having enough properties and this is fuelling the problem of gazumping. It is made worse by the amount of paperwork that is involved with purchasing or selling a property. Hopefully, the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs) will help address this problem by speeding up the house sale process.”

Another major reason for failed house sales is time-wasting by both buyers and sellers, while people changing their minds and bad surveys were also cited.

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, said: “The figures are logical for London as its market is very active, with a much wider choice of houses and areas. People make an offer and then pull out simply because they see something they like better and change their minds. But the gazumping figure is very doubtful, as the total number of transactions last year was around 1.4 million, so 150,000 failed sales would form around 10 per cent of the market. Previous research suggests a figure well below this.”

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