Over a third of property sales fell through in 2023, research finds

Some 35% of property sales fell through in 2023, according to new figures from Quick Move Now.

Of the sales that failed last year, 49% were caused by the buyer changing their mind, attempting to renegotiate, or pulling out after a property survey.

A further 19% of failed sales were attributed to chain-break.

Why did property sales fall through in 2023?

ReasonPercentage of failed sales
Buyer changed mind, attempted to renegotiate price, or withdrew after property survey49%
Slow progress17%
Buyer struggled to secure a mortgage10%
Change in buyer circumstances3%
Legal issues2%

Danny Luke, whose company Quick Move Now released the figures, said: “2023 was a challenging year for the property market. Although the predicted market crash never materialised, we did see a significant slowing of the market. According to HMRC, sales volumes fell 22% year-on-year. We also saw a modest price correction.

“One of the biggest obstacles for the property market throughout 2023 was a mismatch between buyer and seller expectations. Buyers were keen to get a bargain, but many sellers were still hoping for near 2021 prices.

“Mortgage interest rates also made things difficult, impacting affordability and encouraging many would-be buyers to delay their move.

“As we enter the new year, both inflation and mortgage interest rates are falling, yet confidence still remains relatively low. There are predictions that the Bank of England may lower its base rate later in the year. If this happens, we could well see renewed confidence and enthusiasm in the market. With rent prices continuing to be a challenge for many young people, there is scope for significant demand at the bottom of the market.

“With all of the challenges thrown at the property market over the last 12 months, it’s little surprise that the biggest cause of failed property sales is the buyer changing their mind or trying to renegotiate the purchase price. Chain-break has also had a big impact on the number of sales that have fallen through. During the post-covid property market boom, a chain-break could quickly and easily be fixed. That’s not the case in a slower property market. It can take weeks or even months to tie-up another sale, which will often lead to the whole chain collapsing.

“Buyer uncertainty is also showing in the number of property sales falling through due to slow progress. We’ve heard stories of buyers seeming very keen at first, but then getting cold feet and going quiet. Sellers are only happy to hold on for so long before they get fed up and pull out of the sale to put their property back on the market.”