The rise of the dependant buyer

Published: 27/02/2023 By Tom Bloomfield

Given the recent shift in market conditions, it’s no surprise that we are meeting more dependant buyers at the moment. But what is a dependant buyer, are they a problem and how should they be handled?

What is a dependant buyer?

Anybody who is looking to purchase a new home but has yet to find a buyer for their current home should be considered “dependant”, (unless they have cash or borrowing to bridge the gap). They may have listed their house for sale and they may even have plenty of viewings booked, but until they can proceed with their own sale, any interest they may have in your home is purely theoretical.

Dependant buyers normally make up a reasonable proportion of the market, but right now, with the property market slowing, they are on every corner!

Should you let dependant buyers view your house?

Around a fifth of our completions at Bloomfield Grey are made to buyers who were dependant at the point when they first viewed, so if you want to maximise your chances of selling (and selling for the best price), then the answer is yes.

However, to save wasting time, it is sometimes sensible to reject viewings from dependant buyers if there is already significant interest in your home from buyers who can proceed.

Should you accept an offer from a dependant buyer?

It’s a positive step if a dependant buyer expresses interest in your home, and even more so when they make an offer, but there are plenty of reasons why, as a vendor, you should not get too excited too quickly.

Firstly, however genuine their interest may be, the buyer’s budget will normally be predicated on an assumption about the value of their own home. This assumption will sometimes be wrong, meaning once they can proceed, they can’t then afford to make good on their commitment.

Secondly, dependant buyers are notorious for being optimistic about how quickly they expect to find buyers for their own homes. I have lost count of the occasions in my career where having stated that their “house will sell quickly”, a dependant buyer then has to wait months, or even years to find a buyer. During that time, aspects of their position may change; they could become richer or poorer, their preferences on house type could develop, their reason for moving could go away, or other houses could come to the market that suit them better. These scenarios are common and they mean that dependant offers are more likely to fall by the wayside.

None of the above is meant as a slur on dependant buyers, who are almost always acting with genuine intent when they offer on a house, however it pays for vendors (and agents) to remember that, like any human, they can be susceptible to optimism bias.

So, to answer the question, unless the circumstances are exceptional, do not remove your house from being for sale in response to an offer from a dependant buyer.