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Pandemic peak in property fall-throughs plummets

The number of property sale fall-throughs, which crested during the pandemic, is predicted to fall by 12.2% in 2022, according to market analysis from a property purchasing specialist.

HBB Solutions estimates sale fall-throughs could cost the UK property market £787.7 million in 2022, despite signs of an early decline in the actual volume of transactions affected.

Fall-throughs refer to a property sale failing before completion. This is often caused by the buyer or seller pulling out of the sale which itself can be caused by problems discovered during surveying, a break in the chain, and unforeseen issues with a mortgage approval.


Fall-throughs set to decline

Previous research by HBB revealed that 326,000 property sales collapsed in 2021, costing UK sellers approximately £880.5 million.

This figure increased gradually throughout the pandemic, up from 272,768 fall-throughs in 2019. However, the latest figures indicate that this negative market trend may be abating.

Some 71,613 transactions collapsed in the first quarter of 2022 – 17% less when compared to the same period in 2021.

Should this downward trend persist for the remainder of the year, HBB forecasts that the number of fall-throughs could fall 12.2% in 2022, to a total of 286,000.

While this would see total fall-throughs hover above pre-pandemic levels, it would sit below the total numbers seen in both 2020 (298,680) and 2021 (326,091).

Despite this, the individual cost of a fall-through is expected to see a marginal increase in 2022, up from £2,700 to £2,750. As a result, HBB estimates that the total cost of fall-throughs to UK sellers in 2022 could still hit a staggering £788 million.

‘Part of the parcel’

Chris Hodgkinson, managing director of HBB Solutions, comments: “Fall-throughs have been a problem in this country for a long time. Many people place blame at the door of the conveyancing process, saying it’s too long and complex thus providing far too many opportunities for things to go wrong or for people to change their minds.”

“While this might be partially true, we also need to acknowledge that fall-throughs are part and parcel of the homebuying industry and better protection is needed at a far earlier stage in the transaction process.”

He concludes: “They’re a problem for property professionals and the general public alike, so while the forecast decline for 2022 will be welcomed across the board, home sellers will still incur huge costs as a result of sales collapsing this year.”

Table shows number of fall-throughs since 2019 and the associated cost

Fallen through

Change n Change % Est cost
2022 est. forecast 286,452 -39,639


2021 326,091 27.411 9.2% £880,445,700
2020 298,680 25,912 9.5% £806,436,000
2019 272,768 - - £736,473,600
Table shows fall-throughs as a proportion of property sales

Sales volume

Est fall throughs

Proportion of sales vol  
      2021 1,069,291 326,091 30.5%  
      2020 832,023 298,680 35.9%  
      2019 990,580 272,768 27.5%

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