What To Do If A House Sale Fell Through After Months Because The FTB Said It Was Taking To Long

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For sellers, few things are more disheartening than having a house sale collapse after months of effort, particularly when you felt it was progressing smoothly. This recently happened to a client of mine whose first-time buyer purchasers pulled out after 8 months, citing frustrations over delays.

As an estate agent, I helped support my client through this difficult situation. In this article, I’ll share insights into why these fall-throughs happen, and how to minimise delays and bounce back when the worst does occur. My goal is to guide sellers on keeping sales moving, managing buyer expectations and protecting yourself when deals sadly collapse.

Understanding Motivations of FTBs

To give context, first-time buyers are a unique group with specific motivations during their property search. They are typically young professionals getting onto the housing ladder for the first time. Many will have been renting for years and be keen to finally own their own home.

However, the process is new and often baffling. Mortgage applications, conveyancing and surveys are complex and lengthy. While excited, FTBs can become frustrated by hold-ups they don’t fully comprehend. They may blame the seller, agents or solicitors for delays.

As such, they can be more inclined to back out if transactions drag on. Sellers must therefore be empathetic and keep FTBs reassured during long exchanges. Be transparent over timeframes and challenges. FTBs just want to feel progress is happening.

Reasons Why Transactions Get Delayed

To tackle delays effectively, we must first understand the common reasons why they happen in the first place:

  • Backlogs at conveyancing firms dealing with multiple cases
  • Mortgage offers take longer to arrive
  • Issues flagged in property surveys
  • Chains with multiple buyers and sellers
  • Monitoring and resolving title deed problems
  • Negotiating fixtures and fittings to be included
  • Technical problems with paperwork
  • Holiday and illness-causing resources be diverted

In most transactions, some degree of delay is inevitable. However, being aware of the potential pitfalls enables you to anticipate and manage them proactively.

Tips for Minimising Delays as a Seller

As the seller, there are several things you can do to help reduce delays and keep things moving efficiently:

  • Instruct a reputable conveyancing firm familiar with your area. Check reviews and recommendations from past clients.
  • Gather together all the necessary paperwork like title deeds, planning permissions, warranties, etc to assist conveyancing.
  • Carry out pre-sale surveys to identify any problems that may hold up a buyer’s survey.
  • Be as flexible and accommodating as possible on completion dates and other requests.
  • Maintain the property in pristine condition so renegotiations don’t happen later on.
  • Chase progress regularly and politely to keep all parties focused and accountable.
  • Keep buyers updated directly with texts or calls if you sense frustration building.
  • Have reasonable expectations yourself – sales of 4-6 months are typical.

Managing Buyer Frustrations Over Delays

Despite best efforts, delays can still occur. First-time buyers may become impatient, communicating their dissatisfaction or threatening to withdraw if progress stalls.

In these situations, empathy, transparency and compromise are key. Be attentive if they are bothered by hold-ups. Provide reassurance that you are also doing everything possible to drive progress. Suggest constructive solutions, like all parties getting around a table or you as a seller covering some extra fees to remove blockers.

If delays are unavoidable for valid reasons, politely make buyers aware pulling out may mean losing deposits and survey fees. Offer alternatives like extending completion deadlines. With understanding and patience, many buyers will stay the course.

Coping When Sales Collapse After Months of Waiting

Unfortunately, after months of investing, some buyers still lose patience and walk away. This is agonising as a seller, given the time and costs already accrued. In my client’s case, the FTBs felt 8 months was simply too long, despite explanations around conveyancing delays.

When this heartbreaking outcome happens, firstly do not panic. Take stock of the situation and be pragmatic. Learn any lessons – for example, could you have kept buyers warmer with more direct communication? Can your agent or conveyancer provide feedback on why it collapsed?

Next, gather the willpower to pick yourself up and restart the sales process. Be encouraged that all the legal work was completed, so you can relist quickly. Consider offering incentives like furniture packages to attract new buyers and accelerate sales. Annoying as fall-throughs are, new buyers are out there. Absorb the setback, then get straight back out there. Cash buyers can also be an alternative worth exploring to remove delays.


Experiencing a sale collapse just before completion is unfortunate for any seller. If it resulted from frustrations over delays, focus on better-managing buyer expectations in the future. Stay pragmatic, patient, and understanding, while maintaining polite pressure on conveyancers. Additionally, consider exploring the option of a cash house buyer for a more streamlined and efficient process. With resilience, you can bounce back from even the toughest house sale setbacks.

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