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Record numbers of homes are being purchased chain-free

Record numbers of buyers are now purchasing homes chain-free research suggests.

Analysis by Hamptons has found that an increase in the share of homes being purchased by first-time buyers and investors, rather than home movers, has driven a rise in chain-free transactions.

So far in 2022, 73% of all buyers have been chain-free, up from 69% in 2021 and a low of 65% in 2010, according to Hamptons.

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A record 61% of 2022 sellers chose a chain-free offer over a buyer who had a house to sell, the research found.

Four in five (80%) of sellers accepted an offer from a chain-free buyer where they matched an offer from somebody who had a property to sell, up from just three in five in 2016 (60%). 

On average, sellers accepted an offer of 2.5% less from a chain-free buyer as a means of smoothing a sale through.

Additionally, chain-free buyers took an average of 91 days to exchange in April, 20 days quicker than a buyer with a property to sell.

So far this year, first-time buyers have purchased a record 26% of homes in Great Britain, up from a previous high of 24% in 2021. 

Investors made up 14% of buyers, up from 12% in 2021, while second home buyers stayed flat at 2%

The share of homes bought by someone selling their main residence and buying another home fell from 30% in 2021 to 27% so far in 2022, an all-time low, according to the Hamptons data.

Cash buying owner-occupiers made up 19% of buyers so far this year, down from 22% in 2021 and 24% in 2020.

There are, of course, regional variations.

In London, the proportion of chain-free buyers fell marginally from 79% in 2021 to 78% in 2022.  

While in the north east of England, 71% of purchases in 2022 were chain-free, down from 72% in 2021.

All other regions saw an increase in chain-free sales.  

The West Midlands had the highest proportion of chain-free buyers at 80% so far in 2022, up from 78% in 2021.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, says: “The current pace of the market has put buyers with a home to sell at the back of the queue.

“In a fast-paced market such as today, more than three-quarters of sellers had multiple offers on the table to choose from.  

“Given chain-free buyers tend to complete quicker and sales are less likely to fall through, they are fast becoming the preferred option for sellers.

“However, chains serve an important role in the market, helping people move up and down the housing ladder.  

“It’s second and third steppers alongside downsizers who rely on the capital raised from the sale of their home for their next purchase who are finding it particularly tough. 

“This is also exacerbating the lack of stock given their homes are increasingly being bought by first-time buyers and investors who do not have a property to sell.  

“Roughly speaking, for every 10 homes sold so far in 2022 only three of those buyers will bring a home onto the market to sell, creating a chain.”

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, says: “The current pace of the market has put buyers with a home to sell at the back of the queue.

“In a fast-paced market such as today, more than three-quarters of sellers had multiple offers on the table to choose from.  

“Given chain-free buyers tend to complete quicker and sales are less likely to fall through, they are fast becoming the preferred option for sellers.

“However, chains serve an important role in the market, helping people move up and down the housing ladder.  

“It’s second and third steppers alongside downsizers who rely on the capital raised from the sale of their home for their next purchase who are finding it particularly tough. 

“This is also exacerbating the lack of stock given their homes are increasingly being bought by first-time buyers and investors who do not have a property to sell.  

“Roughly speaking, for every 10 homes sold so far in 2022 only three of those buyers will bring a home onto the market to sell, creating a chain.”

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