What is Gazumping (and also Gazundering) and how can you avoid it if you are selling your home?

PUBLISHED: 24th Feb 2023

You have found the property of your dreams, have started thinking about the furniture you will buy to fill it and then you learn from the Estate Agent selling the property that they have accepted a higher offer from someone else- this is gazumping. If a property has been sold to a second buyer for more money than has already been agreed with the first buyer and the seller wants to maximize the amount they obtain from the sale of the property.

This has happened twice in Bramhope this week alone with viewers we have been showing round a property as they ‘lost’ (or were gazumped on a property they had under offer, but also where a sale fell through as another agent agreed an offer from someone with a higher ‘cash’ price.

Although Gazumping isn’t illegal, it is a practice that is considered unethical and hugely frowned upon – although it unfortunately does happen.

Until there is an exchange of written contracts which comes fairly late in the sales process, it means that the seller can still technically accept other offers as all you have is a verbal agreement which is not legally binding. When you look at properties on Rightmove or the other portals and see that they have been sold STC – this means that an offer has been accepted but the sale is still only ‘subject to contract’ until exchange has been agreed.

This broken promise can in fact cost the buyer a substantial amount of money – solicitors and searches may have already been paid for.

There is no way you can ensure that you aren’t gazumped and an ‘honest’ Estate Agent would avoid this practice, there are some things you can do to help prevent this happening:-

  • If you require a mortgage, get a mortgage in principle from your lender before you make an offer – this will speed up the buying process too
  • Ask for the property to be taken off the market as well as changing the for sale board to sold
  • Get a survey organised immediately as this shows how willing you are to purchase the property
  • Get all documentation prepared in advance – this will save time once the sales process is going through the solicitors
  • You could arrange for a ‘lock-out’ agreement to be signed – this shows that the vendors are very motivated to sell to you
  • Keep communicating with your solicitor and mortgage broker to ensure they work at pace and respond quickly when asked for information.

Estate Agents are obliged to pass on any offer they receive, there are though some agents who invent a higher offer at the last minute so that the buyer feels forced to increase their offer to prevent them from being gazumped – if this does happen, ask to see the proof of the other offer in writing, but don’t be panicked by the Estate Agent into increasing your offer ie gazumping your gazumper. At the end of the day, work out how much you can afford and stick to that amount.

Gazumping happens less frequently in Scotland, most Estate Agents are solicitors and under the terms of the Law Society Gazumping isn’t allowed.

There is also a practice known as Gazundering (which is also perfectly legal but unfair), when at the last minute, a buyer withdraws their offer and makes a new one for less money. As the buyer is depending on the seller going through with the sale this is risky. To avoid wasting money on conveyancers the seller may accept the revised offer particularly if the sale is part of a chain.

If you have been gazumped, this is a really awful thing to have happened to you, and it may even have an impact on whether your purchaser wished to proceed. At David Phillip Estate Agents, we completely frown upon this unethical practice.

If you are considering selling your home and would like a free market appraisal with David Phillip FRICS, call 01134 676 400

A: David Phillip Estate Agents, 86, Leeds Road, Bramhope, Leeds w:davidphillip.co.uk e:info@davidphillip.co.uk

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If you are considering selling your home, choosing the right Estate Agent is key.
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