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The UK’s chain-free property hotspots to help homebuyers avoid the current market backlogs

Research by estate and letting agent, Barrows and Forrester, has looked at where a chain-free property is most in-demand amongst UK homebuyers, as well as which UK cities are home to the most chain-free properties for sale.

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A property chain is when the transaction involves more than one buyer. For example, if you were a buyer, buying from someone who was also buying from another seller, this would be classed as a chain. 

Although this sounds straight forward enough, a property chain can be problematic and cause huge delays for those involved. In some instances, delays can go on for months and in the worst cases, the transactions can actually fall through.

This is generally why chain-free properties and first-time buyers are favoured as there is no other party involved who can delay or scupper the transaction. The appeal of a chain-free property has become all the greater in current market conditions, as the stamp duty holiday has caused huge delays during the home selling process. While chain-free transactions are still susceptible to delays during the final legal stages of a sale, they still reduce the overall time a transaction can take. 

Barrows and Forrester’s research confirms just how much of a demand there is for chain-free properties with 50% of all the chain-free homes listed for sale across the UK already being snapped up by buyers. 

The research also shows that of the 25 major UK cities examined, Plymouth has the highest level of homebuyer demand for chain-free properties with 66% of all chain-free homes listed for sale in the city already been sold subject to contract. 

Plymouth is closely followed by Bristol (65%), Sheffield (64%), Portsmouth (62%) and Newport (62%).

As well as homebuyer demand, Barrows and Forrester also looked at which cities were home to the most chain-free properties for sale as a percentage of all properties listed, to see where offered the best chance of homebuyers and sellers reducing their transaction time. 

Manchester topped the list with 48% of all homes listed being chain-free. Cambridge wasn’t far behind with 47% of available properties on the market coming without a chain, while Belfast (46%), Liverpool (45%) and Southampton (44%) were also in the top five. 

For those homebuyers keen to evade a property chain, the area to avoid is Glasgow, with only 7% of homes listed being chain-free. Edinburgh was the second area with the least chain-free properties at just 10%. Aberdeen (17%), Newport (28%) and Bradford (31%) were also home to the lowest number of chain-free options available.

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“A chain-free transaction has always been the holy grail of home selling and there’s nothing worse than having your life plans put on hold due to a transaction taking place further up or down the chain. 

However, with the current stamp duty holiday bringing huge delays as buyers flood the market, the time it’s taking to transact has grown considerably and so a chain-free property is more desirable than ever. 

Our research shows that the chance of finding one differ drastically depending on which city you are house hunting, and if you do find one, demand is high so it’s best to act quickly if you want to secure it.”

Read Jewellery Quarter Home Buyers £94,380 Windfall as Stamp Duty Holiday Extended

Read Why Are Half of Jewellery Quarter Homeowners Moving Within 8 Years & 12 Weeks?

Table shows the level of buyer demand and stock availability for chain-free properties in major cities across the UK
LocationChain-free Buyer DemandChain-free Property Stock Availability
Plymouth66%41%
Bristol65%41%
Sheffield64%44%
Portsmouth62%43%
Newport62%28%
Leeds58%35%
Nottingham58%41%
Bournemouth58%37%
Belfast57%46%
Southampton51%44%
Cambridge51%47%
Swansea51%32%
Bradford49%31%
Sunderland49%44%
Leicester47%38%
Cardiff47%42%
Liverpool44%45%
Birmingham44%39%
Newcastle43%38%
Oxford40%43%
London37%34%
Manchester32%48%
Glasgow15%7%
Edinburgh15%10%
Aberdeen1%17%
United Kingdom50%36%
Chain-free buyer demand based on the number of homes listed as chain-free and already under offer or sold subject to contract as a percentage of all chain-free properties listed in an area
Chain-free stock availability based on the number of all chain-free properties listed as a percentage of all homes listed in an area
Data sourced from Zoopla (10th March 2021)
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