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What is Gazumping?

Gazumping is a touchy subject in the property world.

With its reputation as a dirty deed, gazumping is frowned upon in most circles – with many people even believing the practice should be outlawed. And yet the statistics don’t lie – plenty of us are doing it.

Let’s take a deep dive into gazumping – who does it, why they do it, and how to prevent it happening to you.

what is gazumping sad couple house fallen through

How do you define gazumping?

Let’s say you’ve made an offer on the perfect property. The seller has accepted your offer, you’ve got a completion date in the diary, and you begin excitedly telling friends and family about your upcoming move.

Then, you get some bad news. Despite your offer already being accepted by the seller and an exchange of contracts date set, they’ve changed their minds after a higher offer has come in. You’re now out in the cold – and the new buyer is now on track to move into your dream home.

You’ve been ‘gazumped’.

 

Why is gazumping so bad for the buyer?

The problem with gazumping – aside from the obvious frustration it causes – is that it can cost the party on the receiving end a small fortune in fees.

Think about it – the first thing you’re supposed to do when you have an offer accepted on a house is instruct a conveyancing solicitor, book a home survey, and secure a mortgage arrangement.  

In fact, dragging your heels over these key tasks can put your purchase in jeopardy, as the buyer will see you as less-than-serious if you aren’t proactive with moving the sale forward from your end.

These administrative arrangements all cost a pretty penny – fees for conveyancing alone can be as much as £2,000.

This means that if you’re gazumped as a buyer – you lose the upfront fees you’ve already paid while you were under the impression that the home would soon be yours.

Being gazumped takes an emotional toll, too. When we have an offer accepted on a property, we start to see the home as ours, and having it snatched away can be a bit of a blow.

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Gazumping protection with

Home Buyers Protection Insurance for just £69

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house fall through house boxed up

Who is gazumping and why?

Nobody wants to be gazumped – but a surprising number of us have secretly admitted to gazumping another buyer.

According to the HomeOwner’s Alliance (HOA), almost 40% of buyers admitted they’d knowingly gazumped another buyer – with the average difference between offers a massive £16,000.

This gives you an idea of the seller’s incentive to facilitate the gazumping of their original buyer. There are few reasons we can think of as to why a seller would turn down the opportunity to make thousands more on their house sale – despite accepting the original buyer’s offer in good faith.

 

Is gazumping on the increase?

Unfortunately – yes.

Rates of gazumping are the highest they’ve been in years.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a few things at play here. The property market has experienced a post-Covid boom, first with the stamp duty holiday, then with buyers scrambling to move house after the stagnant lockdown year of 2020. Demand is outweighing supply in many parts of England, with mini bidding wars being sparked even over the most normal of houses.

Also, there has been something of a mass migration towards the countryside after the widespread adoption of a home-based working model, as people realise that if they don’t need to go into the office, they can move to a cheaper area and get more for their money.

Due to the difference in property prices, these buyers moving from city to country tend to have bigger budgets, which leads to an influx of generous offers. If these come in after an offer is already accepted, you have a perfect recipe or gazumping.

Essential Property Protection

£69

To be bought prior to, or within 7 days of notifying your solicitor / mortgage lender of your purchase.

  • Conveyancing Fees up to £750
  • Survey/Valuation Fees up to £500
  • £250 Mortgage Lender Fees
  • 120 days cover
  • Gazumping protection (if the offer accepted is at least £1000 higher than yours)
  • No excess
  • VAT Included in all fees covered
Premium Property Protection

£139

To be bought prior to, or within 7 days of notifying your solicitor / mortgage lender of your purchase.

  • £1,500 Conveyancing Fees
  • £750 Surveys & Valuations Fees
  • £250 Mortgage Lender Fees
  • 180 days cover
  • £300 Accommodation & Storage
  • £200 Mortgage Broker Fees
  • Gazumping protection (if the offer accepted is at least £1000 higher than yours)
  • No excess
  • VAT Included in all fees covered

Is gazumping legal?

Yes. As a legally binding contract is only signed at the point of exchange here in England, there is no legal protection for buyers against gazumping. Gazumping is legal right up until the exchange of contracts, so you’re not safe from it until that point.

 

How common is gazumping?

So, how often is gazumping actually happening? Well, chances are it’s happened to someone you know – it might even have happened to them more than once.

1 in 4 house sales in the UK currently fail before completion. And statistics show that gazumping is now the main reason for a property sale falling through in England and Wales (HOA).

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How to prevent gazumping from happening to you

Ditch the chain

Easier said than done, obviously. But if you come without a chain, you’ll be among the seller’s first choices if they’re in a rush to complete on the sale, and this could give you the edge over a higher offer that comes with a chain.

Woo the seller 

Not literally, of course, but you need to make them feel like selling to you is the best possible choice. Be clear and timely in your communication with them (or via your agents if you’re not in direct contact). Assure them that the property is your dream place – it might help them to close their ears to other offers and feel good about selling to you and you alone.

Set the date

Make sure you set the completion date early, and don’t make the date itself too far into the future, Anything over a month might be tempting fate, although this entirely depends on the length of the chain and the speed of the conveyancing process.

Buy a new-build

There are some protections in place to stop buyers of new builds being gazumped thanks to the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which takes a dim view of developers allowing anyone who has paid a reservation fee on a new-build to be gazumped.

Match the new offer

This only works if the offer you made originally wasn’t at the very top of your budget. If you have your heart set on the place and can stretch to a little more, it might be worth doing this to stop you losing your dream place and losing out on the upfront fees. 

Protect yourself beforehand

With Rhino Home Protect’s Home Buyers Protection Insurance, you no longer have to fear being gazumped. While it could still happen, you can claim back the upfront fees you’ve already paid which are associated with the move – including conveyancing fees, mortgage arrangement fees and home survey fees. With the average fall-through costing buyers £2,400, it makes sense to protect yourself before making that offer.

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