31 Aug 2022
Gazumping – What Is It and Can You Prevent It?
So you’ve worked hard, taken a long time to save money and finally found the perfect house for you. Your offer has been accepted, everything seems to be going smoothly, when suddenly – you’ve been gazumped. Someone has pulled the carpet from under you and taken the home that was going to be yours. The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle you’ve been carefully putting together for months has been taken.
Gazumping may sound like a funny word but it’s not nice when it happens to you. So what is it and can you stop it from happening? Read on for our guide to gazumping.
What Does Gazumping Mean?
Gazumping is when another buyer makes a higher offer on the house you are about to buy and that gets accepted instead. This then causes you to lose out on the home you were very nearly going to own and forcing you back to square one on your property search.
Is Gazumping Legal?
Gazumping can happen at any time before you have exchanged contracts. This makes it perfectly legal - as whilst your offer may have been accepted, this agreement is not legally binding until the contract exchange.
Properties may continue to be advertised on estate agent websites whilst you are between the verbal agreement and legal contract exchange stages, this will be listed as “sold STC” which stands for “subject to contracts”.
Though gazumping is legal, it is unethical and can be frowned upon. Gazumpers are considered disorganised as they cause disruption. They may also be viewed with caution, as some of those attempting to gazump might not have the money they promise.
The different laws in Scotland make gazumping rare, whether or not the rest of the UK will introduce preventative measures is still up for debate.
Effects of being Gazumped
The exchanging of contracts comes fairly late in the sales process, leaving things open to gazumping whilst you get everything in the process arranged.
This could mean that if you are gazumped, especially later on during the arrangement process, that not only will you lose out on a property you liked but you could also lose out on a lot of money that you’ve already spent on surveys, a conveyancer, arranging the right mortgage and so on.
Why Does Gazumping Happen?
Most of the time gazumping happens simply because another buyer has made a higher offer. Understandably, the seller wants to get the most money they can from the sale. The housing market can be very competitive, especially in hot spots like London.
Gazumping can happen due to other reasons though, and timing can be a factor in the issue. If you’re taking too long to sell your home or get the other affairs in order such as getting a survey or organising legal aspects, the seller may end up rejecting your offer and going with a buyer who can get the process moving quicker.
Not to be Confused with Gazundering
Gazundering not only sounds similar to gazumping, but works similarly too. Gazundering refers to a practice where, just before the contracts are exchanged, the buyer will lower their offer at the last minute.
Doing this may leave a seller feeling like they have no choice but to accept, as they won’t want to lose the sale and end up starting the lengthy process again.
Protecting Yourself from Gazumping
Whilst it might be difficult to prevent the chance of being gazumped completely, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk – or at least some of the consequences…
Get Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance
By getting insurance, you can protect yourself from some of the effects of gazumping happening to you. If a sale falls through, either due to someone else’s higher offer or the seller changing their mind, home buyers’ protection insurance will allow you to claim back some of the money you’ve had to pay for costs in the house buying process, such as conveyancing fees and survey fees.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
Be prepared by having a mortgage agreement principle in place before you make an offer on a property. Arranging a solicitor and gathering all the documents you’ll need so that they’re ready will help stop any delays.
Starting off with a strong offer will also help prevent anyone offering higher. If your offer is low, gazumping may be more likely. It helps to keep aware of what is happening in the housing market too, so you can anticipate the competition.
Get Things Moving as Quick as Possible
You’ll want to get from the verbal agreement to the contract exchange stage as quickly as possible so that it will be legally binding and safe from gazumping.
Being prepared will help speed up the process, as will keeping in contact with your mortgage broker and conveyancing solicitor. Make sure to respond as soon as possible to any further requests for information.
It might be worth a try to get to know the sellers, perhaps you’ll get along. You can show them that you’re serious about buying their home, they’ll then be less likely to take a better offer from a stranger.
You could exchange numbers in order to keep in touch and message updates of where you are in the process. This will assure them that they won’t be kept waiting and that you are trying to get things done as quickly as possible.
You could also try asking to see if the seller will take the property off the market once they’ve accepted your offer. Not all sellers will like this idea, but if they are willing, it will mean a much lower chance of someone else making a higher offer, since it’s no longer being advertised. You could also sweeten this deal by offering something such as getting a survey sorted as soon as possible after the offer has been accepted.
Lock Out Agreement
A lock out agreement is a contract between you, the buyer, and the seller (if willing) that will give you exclusive rights to buying the property for a limited time. This could work well with someone who has previously had a sale fall through or wants things done quickly. At the very least it will show a seller how serious you are about buying the property. You’ll need to speak to your conveyancing solicitor for information on costs.
What to do if You are Gazumped
If you’ve done everything you can to prevent it and it still happens, you can try making a higher offer but don’t over stretch yourself, it may be best to let go rather than paying a lot more. Another property will eventually come along.
Expert Help and Advice
If you’re looking for your perfect property and don’t want to lose it, contact us and we’ll find you the ideal mortgage to get you prepared and hopefully avoid a gazumping. Call 03300 58 60 58, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form to start the process today.