'I sold all my furniture – then my house sale fell through'

The week before Christmas, Karen Whybrow received some bad news. She was in the final stages of selling her house and her buyers had pulled out less than three weeks before their planned completion date.

'I sold all my furniture – then my house sale fell through'

“I just went into panic mode,” said Ms Whybrow, 43. “I was ridiculously stressed by it all. It took me at least a month to come down from it.”

Around 1.5 million homes were sold last year, according to estate agency Hamptons – the highest level since the peak of the market in 2007. But what of the deals which came unstuck?

The proportion of homes that go under offer but don’t complete has been on an upward trajectory throughout the pandemic. Almost one in four sales fall through, according to data from analysts TwentyCi.

Broken deals are part and parcel of today’s fiercely competitive housing market, where buyers feel pressured to bid high and then have time during the drawn-out buying process to get cold feet. Deals also collapse if lenders give properties lower valuations than the agreed price.