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What Is Gazumping? – Is It Legal And How Do You Avoid It

What Is Gazumping? - Is It Legal And How Do You Avoid It

I wanted to write this blog because a client of mine who I have recently taken under my wing, recently got gazumped when trying to buy another property so I wanted to quickly explain what it is and how you can avoid it.

Gazumping happens when a buyer’s offer is accepted on a property by a seller but, before the property sale completes, the seller accepts a better offer from another party.

This can be really disheartening, especially if the original buyer has their heart set on a certain property and loses it at the last minute.

Unfortunately, whatever the reasons, there is no way to prevent gazumping and each occurrence has to be evaluated on its merits and your feelings about the matter.  If you find yourself in this position, we will happily explain all the options available to you and help you decide the best course of action, if either of these tricky situations arise.

At Campbells we have systems in place to prevent these situations from happening and therefore, fortunately, it doesn’t happen that often, no matter what the media would have you believe, and we’ll always try hard to dissuade your sellers if they try and do it, because we don’t like it either!

If you are a first time or even just an inexperienced buyer, this can sometimes come as quite a shock to the system.  In fact, it can come as a shock to the system for anyone – that awful feeling when you get Gazumped.

Despite how unfair and how heartbreaking this situation can be for a buyer, gazumping is a perfectly legal aspect of buying property in England and Wales.  An agreement to buy or sell a property is not legally bound until the written contracts are EXCHANGED, before this, neither party can be held –  despite previous agreement.

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Now this bit is very important and as Estate Agents, this is what makes it difficult for us:

Gazumping is among one of the most difficult situations an agent will ever be caught up in.  Estate agents are legally obliged to pass on every offer in writing under the Estate Agents Act 1979.  It is against the law for them to refuse any buyer that asks them to submit an offer, even if a seller has already accepted a previous offer and taken the house off the market.

There is little an agent can do if a seller is determined to accept a higher offer and, once we have passed the offer on and offered our advice and guidance, we cannot force a seller to ignore it, especially if they are being offered several thousand pounds more for their property but as I said before, this rarely happens.

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What Can You Do To Avoid Being Gazumped?

Be Quick And Act Fast!

We appreciate that you won’t always have everything in place that you need at the time of you making an offer but it does help, once you put forward your offer, it is important that you do everything that your agents and solicitors ask you to do as quickly as possible to make things run much quicker!

Make Sure The Property Comes Off The Market 

Most agents would normally mark a property as SOLD S.T.C (Subject To Contract) providing that, as a buyer, you have certain things in place, this prevents other people from getting involved however it does still let people know that nothing is not final yet – just double check with the sellers agents that this is what is going to happen/can it happen as part of your offer (you need to be in a good position to convince them to do this).

Make Sure You Have Your Mortgage In Principle Before You Start Looking

It will (or should) be one of the first questions that a good Estate Agent will ask you, they’re not being rude, they are just looking out for their clients best interests – what is your current position? If you are not in a good position to proceed then you can’t expect the seller to hang around forever – especially if you don’t even know if you can purchase the property. Plus, it helps you with your offer if you are in a proceed-able position.

Put Your Property On The Market When You Start Looking.

I know it sounds mad but we have this problem quite a lot. The property market can sometimes become a game of ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg’, my colleague Clare, actually wrote a blog on this last year when it was really affecting her local market. If you are really serious about moving then you need to prove that to your seller by being on the market, it is no use waiting otherwise you could miss out. Don’t be scared about going onto the market before you find somewhere, especially at this time of the year. If you are going to leave it until you find somewhere, at least have all of your ducks in a line ready so you can press the button and go – make sure you find an agent that will help you with this.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions you can always contact me and my team on 01327 878926 or email me at jamie@campbell-online.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

Jamie

Local Property Expert.

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