What Does ‘No Chain’ Mean In Property?

Chain free, no onward chain, no upward chain…what does this all mean?

Whether you are buying a house or selling a house in the UK, you should understand what chains are in the UK property industry. This is especially true if you are an investor. 

For a quick answer:

The meaning of ‘no chain’ , ‘chain free’ and ‘no onward chain’ is basically the same and it is when the sale of one property is NOT dependent on the sale of another property. 

Risks of deals falling through and delays are much lower where there is no onward chain.

What Is A Chain In Property?

A chain occurs in property when the sale of one property is dependent on the sale of one or more other properties. 

For example, if I want to buy a property, but the seller of the property needs to make sure they buy another property in order to finalise the deal then there is a chain. 

Another example is if I want to buy the property but I need to sell my current property before I can go ahead with the purchase. 

As you can see, when a chain is involved it can lead to longer sales processes and delays in selling a property. It can also lead to sales falling through completely.

What Is A Chain Free Or No Chain Property?

This is fairly self explanatory as a chain free property is a property where the sale of it is not dependent on the sale of a different property.

Let’s break it down so it’s clear and simple for both buyers and sellers. 

Chain Free Buyer 

A chain free buyer is someone who can purchase a property without having to sell another property.

This could be a first time buyer buying their first house, an investor, or just anyone who already has the funds to finance a property purchase.

If a seller wants to get a property sold fast then they will probably prefer a chain free buyer as there is a lower chance of things falling through. 

Chain Free Seller

A chain free seller is someone who is able to sell the property and does not need to buy another property to finalise the deal.

This may be because they don’t live in the property being sold or have other arrangements such as moving into a family member’s property.

A chain free seller can be attractive to buyers because there is less chance of delays and things falling through. 

Sometimes a seller will only finalise and go through with the deal if they are able to buy themselves a property to move into.

Is It Good To Be A Chain Free Buyer?

Yes, it’s better to be a chain free buyer especially as an investor.

This is because sellers will feel more comfortable selling to a chain free buyer as there is a lower risk of the deal falling through and dragging on for a long time. 

This means that if you are a chain free buyer and a property investor, there is potential for you to negotiate a better deal compared to someone who is not a chain free buyer.

What Is An Upward Chain?

An upward chain is specifically when the seller of the property needs to purchase another property before selling.

How Long Can a Property Chain Be?

Technically there’s no limit to how long a property chain can be and if one part of the chain breaks it can affect everyone in the process.

However, naturally there are always going to be some proportion of buyers and sellers that are chain free so chains don’t go on forever.

You might be surprised that the percentage of chain free buyers is quite high.

What Percentage of Buyers are Chain Free?

According to research by Hamptons, the percentage of chain free buyers in 2022 from January to April was 73%.

This is higher than the average for the 10 years previous.

💡 From 2009 to 2021, the percentage of chain free buyers hovers in the range from about 60% to just under 70% so historially chain free buyers do make up the majority of buyers in the UK.