If you're a seller with a nagging feeling that something isn't right with your move, what can you do?

What are the signs that your sale is stalling or 'falling through'? Jessie Hewitson investigates.

It should take around 12 weeks to buy or sell a home, but for many it's a lot longer than that. For some of the more lengthy sales, it's just a question of being patient. But for others, there are signs that the sale is in trouble – signs that are not always picked up on by the buyer or seller because they are so subtle.

The obvious one is if the buyer isn't spending any money and is suddenly uncommunicative. If a surveyor hasn't been instructed to carry out a valuation on behalf of the bank three weeks after a price has been agreed – or your agent who can't get hold of the buyers or sellers, or their solicitor – then it's time to ask some tough questions. Any misleading or unclear information given during the sale can be cause for concern, too.

Another sign of a stalling sale, according to veteran estate agent James Wyatt, of Barton Wyatt agency, is when the solicitor starts asking silly questions. He cites one example last month where a buyer asked if the seller was taking the loft insulation. "And if both solicitors start blaming each other like children in the playground, take charge and talk direct," he suggests. "Agree sale milestones and dates both verbally and in writing from the outset."

It is a good idea to choose an agent who will continue to monitor the sale after it goes under offer to try and minimise the risk of a sale losing momentum. This means liaising between the vendor, the vendor’s solicitor and the buyer. "Continual weekly monitoring and edging the sale along can unearth potential problems, which means the sale may fall through at a later stage if left undiscovered" suggests Annabel Morbey, of Smiths Gore.

The best way to communicate during a slow sale or purchase, according to Carl Davenport of Hamptons International, is to be clear from the beginning about the time-frames you require them to perform within. "Say that you expect the survey to be instructed within two weeks, or that the search should be paid for and put in within one week," he recommends.

And should you speak to the seller or buyer direct? Davenport thinks not. "In 95 per cent of cases we would never put the buyer and seller in touch with each other, because it only takes one small comment to upset the sale or for one party to agree something that the agent is unaware of. A compromise might be to set up a meeting between all parties and agree a way forward."

Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. Zoopla strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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