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What is gazumping, and is it legal?

Posted 5/07/2024 by Alex Moore
Categories: Buying
Model home on beach

When you find the right property, that one you're desperate to call home, it can be quite overwhelming. It's easy to get carried away as a buyer, imagining yourself moving in before you've actually secured the property for yourself.

If you don't act quickly, the seller could accept an offer from someone else, leaving you to miss out on your ideal next home.

We think that buyers should always keep their options open as there's such a wide range of properties for sale right now, but a rising number of buyers are turning to gazumping to secure a property they've missed out on.

Gazumping explained

Gazumping is a term that goes all the way back to the 1920s. The term 'gazumph' originally meant overcharging in Yiddish, and has since become a term known in the property market.

Simply put, gazumping means to make a higher offer to a seller once they have already agreed to another offer.

The idea is that a higher offer will be tempting to the seller of the property, and they will abandon the current sale to pursue the better offer instead.

While it can be an underhand tactic, it can be quite effective as money talks. In 2024 it's been estimated 37% of UK homebuyers are getting gazumped.

The legality of gazumping

Gazumping is currently legal. The only case where it wouldn't be is if the seller has signed a contract and is already legally bound to complete the sale with the current buyer.

If contracts haven't been exchanged yet, there is no obligation for the seller to commit to the sale and they can continue to explore offers, which is why putting in a higher offer can be so effective.

Although not legally bound to the sale yet, there are still consequences to abandoning a sale once the process has begun.

There will be legal fees to pay for the time of solicitors and surveyors who still require payment even if the sale isn't completed, meaning it'll cost the buyer even though they aren't getting the property.

Thankfully, we have a 'No Move No Legal Fee' policy with our conveyancing service.

So if you were to get gazumped and the sale isn't completed, you won't have to pay anything for the legal costs, saving you money.

What if I get gazumped?

Getting gazumped is never a good experience. It can be awful to find yourself so close to the exchange of contracts just to have the sale abandoned by the seller because they've accepted a higher offer from someone else. It could even lead to a bidding war if you want to try and keep the seller on your side.

You can't stop someone from gazumping, but there are steps you can take to reduce the chances.

1. Secure a mortgage in advance

The longer it takes to reach the exchange of contracts, the more likely the chances are of you getting gazumped.

If you need to secure a mortgage for your next home, the sooner you do it the better. The time it takes to complete a mortgage application could extend the time it'll take to complete the sale.

Our partner Embrace Financial Services can get you a Mortgage in Principle in as soon as 15 minutes. Book an appointment today and get advice from a mortgage expert who will search over 70 lenders to find you the right deal.

2. Use the modern method of auction

The modern method of auction offers an alternative way to buy a property.

A property is listed at auction and potential buyers have an opportunity to bid on it.

When the bidding closes, if your offer is chosen, the seller is much less likely to receive further offers, reducing the chances of you getting gazumped.

3. Get the seller to take the property off the market

The longer the property is on the market, the more likely it could be spotted by a potential gazumper.

If you ask the seller to take the property off the market you are showing that you are a serious buyer while also reducing the chances of the seller receiving a higher offer.

 

Being quick and acting with urgency is the best way to secure a property. Making an enquiry soon and showing yourself to be a serious buyer is the best approach. Gazumping doesn't always work and you'd most likely be paying more than the market value for the property if it did work.

If you plan on moving and need to sell your current home, book a free property valuation and your local property experts will be in touch.

Book a FREE property valuation


Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Alex Moore

Your Move E-Marketing Executive

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