Gazumping: explained

October 2020

When buying a home, having your offer accepted can feel like the final stage in your homebuying journey - a reason to celebrate and start making long term plans. But, unfortunately, that's not always the case. 

While gazumping may be less common now, it can still happen. Here we explain what it is and how you can avoid it.

What is Gazumping?

Gazumping is when a buyer has had an offer accepted by the seller, but before the deal is properly closed, an improved offer from another party is accepted instead. 

Is it legal?

The disappointment of losing a property at the last moment can be deflating - particularly if it has a financial impact due to survey costs, legal and mortgage fees. 

Despite this, gazumping is still perfectly legal in the UK and until written contracts are exchanged the sale is not complete - verbal agreements are not legally binding. 

The most stressful part of the buying process comes between the offer being accepted, and the surveys and legal and mortgage documents being completed. This can last several weeks and it’s within this period buyers are most at risk of being gazumped. 

How can I avoid getting gazumped?

Arrange a survey

As discussed, the window for opportunity for other parties to make offers is dependent on what happens during the final stages of a purchase. Keeping this period short is essential to minimising risk. Arranging a survey as soon as possible is key. It takes 5-6 days for a survey to be completed after the initial inspection. 

Obtain a mortgage in principle

Finding your dream home isn’t always easy. But, obtaining a mortgage in principle with a lender will give you a better idea of how much you can budget for and during the later stages of a purchase, speed up the process. Doing this will help you to avoid unnecessary complications and extended the period between offering and closing. 

Choose a conveyancer

It’s also advisable to seek quotes from conveyancers as early as possible. If you know who you want to work with at this vital point it can save valuable time. 

Choose a surveyor 

The same can be said of chartered surveyors. If you have somebody in place when you have had an offer accepted it can put you in a very strong position. 

Ask to take the property off the market 

There are no obligations for the seller to take their property off the market but it is not uncommon for them not to do so if asked. 

Ask for a lock-in agreement

On occasions, buyers can suggest a lock-in agreement. This allows a short, fixed period to arrange the final stages of the deal and usually involves a small deposit. 

If you've been gazumped and need help finding a new property, contact us today and our team of property experts can you to find the perfect home. 

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