Some would-be homeowners are learning the hard way that, even if the ink's dry on the contract, it doesn't guarantee they'll be moving in any time soon.
More than a quarter (28 per cent) of homebuyers have had a house purchase fall through after they've had an offer accepted, research out today has found.
The survey of 2,000 homebuyers by Which? Mortgage Advisers found that reneging on property deals is leaving people almost £3,000 out of pocket on average.
Sellers suddenly deciding they didn't actually want to sell after all topped the list of reasons for deals falling through, with 27 per cent of offers being pushed aside for this reason. Meanwhile, 21 per cent of buyers said they were cheekily gazumped, with their seller accepting a higher bid, despite their offer having already been accepted.
However, flaky sellers are not solely responsible for deals coming to an abrupt end. Around one in five deals that didn't go through were caused by the buyer not being able to follow through because the sale of their own property had fallen flat, while buyers deciding that they'd actually prefer another property instead were responsible for the same proportion of failures (21 per cent).
In light of its findings, Which? is urging those hoping to move up the property ladder to consider whether there's anything they can do to make the process easier, such as moving in with family or into short-term rented accommodation once their own property is sold to make them a chain-free buyer or opting for new builds which will not be part of an ownership chain.
"No one wants to see their dream property slip through their fingers, particularly if it leaves you out of pocket, but there are steps you can take to ensure you are in the best possible position," said David Blake at Which? Mortgage Advisers. "The best way to protect yourself from your purchase falling through is to avoid a lengthy chain.
"With the right preparation and research, including getting your finances in order prior to making an offer, you can avoid complicated chains and improve your chances of success."