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When buying a new house, you might feel that once an offer gets accepted its time to celebrate; however, don’t get too carried away, there are still many things which could go wrong, gazumping is one of them. So, what is gazumping and how do you avoid this sneaky practice.

Block Stopping Domino Pieces Representing Gazumping

 

It can be an exciting time for a buyer when an offer gets accepted, but as many experienced buyers will tell you, it’s not over yet. You need to stay focused and manage the situation well to avoid being disappointed, especially from the act of gazumping.

What is Gazumping?

After you have had your offer accepted and you start to work towards completing the sale, there is every possibility another buyer will make a higher offer. If the sellers accept this higher offer, you’ve been gazumped, effectively pushing you out of the sale. Unfortunately, this can happen at any time before you have exchanged contracts.

There are a few reasons why this would happen. Firstly and most commonly, the seller is tempted by more money. Secondly, the new buyer might be in a position to complete quicker.

Is Gazumping Legal?

Right now in the UK, gazumping is entirely legal. There is a possibility this will change soon, or legislation will make it difficult, but as it stands, it’s an inconvenient possibility. Generally, consumers in the UK are spoiled by laws which protect them, but when buying a house, it can be very different as there isn’t much in the way of protection before or after purchase. You alone are responsible and must act to protect yourself.

The agreement you have with a seller only becomes legally binding once you exchange contracts. Therefore you are vulnerable up until that point. Exchanging contracts is one of the last things you do in the process, and so if you are gazumped at this late stage, you may have already paid for a survey, conveyancing fees and mortgage arrangement fees. It isn’t uncommon for people to lose around £1000 in non-refundable fees.

How to avoid being Gazumped

There is no guarantee that you won’t get gazumped; however, you can reduce the chances of this happening and also make sure you are protected if it does. Take the following precautions to prevent becoming a victim.

Make your offer subject to the sellers taking the property off the market. If the property is no longer being advertised, there is much less risk of someone making a better offer.

Once your offer is accepted, the seller should honour this; if they don’t, they may be holding out for a better offer. They may also be reluctant to take it off the market in case you pull out. If you show commitment such as instructing a surveyor, they’ll be much more likely to honour the request.

The quicker you get things moving and arranged the less chance others have of making a higher offer. Ensure that you respond to all requests for information from you mortgage advisor and solicitor as quickly as possible and keep calling them to hurry things along. Your aim is to get to the exchange of contracts stage as soon as possible.

Homebuyer protection insurance is available if you want to make sure you don’t get left out of pocket. If you do get gazumped, but you took out an appropriate policy, you may be able to claim back any losses you have incurred.

There is something called a ‘lockout agreement’ which gives the buyer exclusive rights to buy the property. The seller would have to be willing to sign, but this adds protection against being gazumped.

What to do if you get Gazumped

If you have protected yourself against being gazumped and it still happens, there isn’t much more you could have done. You can, however, fight to the death if you really want the property. Review your finances and consider gazumping the gazumper. The process can then turn into a bit of a farce with the offer continually increasing, but it is worth considering if you really want the house.

If this fails, you can contact the sellers to try to persuade them why they should reconsider your offer. This will be your last-ditch attempt to save the sale, so think about why you are a better buyer and try to sell yourself.

In these circumstances, it is much more common for the gazumped party to walk away as the whole episode leaves them feeling dejected.

Cosey Homes have Chartered Surveyors in towns and cities across England and Wales. If you want to show your sellers that you are committed and get the right advice about the property you are purchasing, get a quote from ourselves for an RICS Homebuyers or Building Survey.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this article is intended for information purposes only and not as advice. We take no responsibility for the result of any actions you take as a result of reading this information.

You should always obtain the relevant professional advice prior to making investment decisions. 

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