Man watching if higher offers are made on his property. SAM Conveyancing's guide on how to protect yourself against gazumping
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Gazumping

02/07/2021
(Last Updated: 08/12/2023)
1,614
7 min read
Gazumping is the term used when the seller accepts a higher offer from another buyer, before the first offer they verbally accepted is legally finalised. This leaves the original buyer exposed to paying their conveyancing costs and hunting for a new property to buy. We discuss the opposite, when a buyer lowers their offer last minute, in a separate article - How to deal with gazundering.

Is Gazumping legal in the UK?

Yes. Unlike some other countries where property transactions become legally binding as soon as an offer is accepted, in England and Wales, property sales only become legally binding after the exchange of contracts. This time between the acceptance of an offer and the exchange of contracts leaves room for gazumping to occur.

Is Gazumping morally wrong?

The moral implications of gazumping can be subjective and depend on the perspective of the parties involved. For buyers who have invested time, effort, and money into a property purchase only to be gazumped, it can be considered unfair and morally wrong. On the other hand, sellers may argue that they have the right to get the best price for their property, especially in competitive markets. You may want to consider a Home Buyers Protection Insurance Policy to protect you if the offer is higher than yours by a certain amount.

How do you beat Gazumping?

We'll review how to protect yourself against gazumping in detail:



    1 Be prepared and act fast
Move swiftly with all aspects of the buying process. Complete property surveys, seek legal advice, and have your finances in order. The faster you progress, the less time the seller has to consider other offers.

    2 Get your Mortgage in Principle
Obtain an approval in principle before making an offer. This ensures that you are a serious buyer and financially capable of making the purchase, making your offer more appealing to sellers.

    3 Get an 'Exclusivity Agreement' with a non-refundable deposit
There are legal agreements, such as a 'lock-out / lock-in agreement' that can be drawn up at the point you put your offer in, to tie in the seller, so that they can't accept higher offers.

These agreements can slow the conveyancing process down due to their detail and your solicitors will need to review them to protect your interests. The agreement normally requires you to pay a non-refundable deposit; normally around £2,000.

You may think this is a great solution, however, being gazumped isn't the only thing you need protection from when buying a home. There are other complications, such as the property being undervalued, legal issues or even structural defects. All of these could affect both your desire to buy the property, and or even your ability to do it.

For instance, if you mortgage lender undervalues the property and you can't get a mortgage, you could be faced with having to walk away and losing your non-refundable deposit.

    4 Reduce the time between your offer and exchange
Reducing the time between placing your offer and exchange of contracts reduces the opportunity for other buyers to come along.

To do this, however, is easier said than done, especially as working with some conveyancing solicitors can delay the process rather than speed it up. There are 2 ways to speed up the conveyancing process:

  • Instruct your solicitors before you place your offer, so that you can get the initial paperwork, ID and protocol forms completed.
  • Choose a good conveyancing solicitor who uses fast communication, such as telephone and email. Believe or not, most solicitors still prefer to use the postal system and this can add weeks onto the conveyancing process.


What is ghost gazumping?

Being gazumped is upsetting for the buyer, however, some buyers question whether there is a higher offer, or whether it was a ghost offer. A ghost offer isn't real and there isn't another buyer. The estate agent's gazumping policy should stop this practice.


    5
    Gazumping Insurance / No Sale, No Fee
The cost of buying a home is expensive and if you are unfortunate enough to be gazumped you don't want to have to pay your solicitors every time this happens. By working with conveyancing solicitors that provide No Move, No Fee protection you won't have to pay for solicitors' fees for each gazumped property.

There are some gazumping insurance products that protect you from the costs of purchase, including your solicitor's fees, mortgage valuation and surveys. You should always read the terms of these insurance products, as they often don't cover costs incurred prior to taking out the product.

    6 Express your intentions
Communicate your excitement and commitment to the property to the seller or estate agent. This personal touch may influence their decision and reduce the chances of them considering other offers.

    7 Keep registered with local estate agents
Before you even get to the point of putting in an offer, you will have been searching Right Move, Zoopla and the new platform, On The Market, to find your dream home.

There are some statistics which suggest that it take 22 viewings before you get an offer accepted, so when you get gazumped it can feel incredibly disheartening to have to start all over again.

To stay ahead, you need to keep in contact with all of the estate agents in the location you are moving to. This means keeping on the property mailing lists, talking to the agents, and searching the property portal. By doing this you'll be prepared for the worst if you do get gazumped.

Do estate agents encourage gazumping?

No, estate agents will not encourage this. However, it is an estate agent's legal obligation to inform the seller of any offers. If someone else makes a better offer, you may lose the property.

While gazumping is technically legal in the UK, it can be frustrating for property buyers. Being well-prepared, proactive, and building a good relationship with the seller and estate agent can help buyers minimize the risk. Additionally, it is crucial for estate agents to act ethically and provide truthful information throughout the buying process.

What happens if I get gazumped?

Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do if you get gazumped. The seller is not liable to commit to the sale, so if you spend money on conveyancing searches and surveys before exchange of contracts, you will end up suffering a loss.

For this reason, we offer you a no sale, no fee conveyancing policy. Additionally, you can enforce the tips we've discussed above, to make sure the transaction will go ahead smoothly.

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing
Reviewed by:
Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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