The fact that gazumping is seen as a legitimate practice can be difficult for many people to accept. Buyers often spend significant time and money finding a property, raising the finance and looking forward to concluding a deal. It can be heart-breaking when somebody steps in at the last minute, sometimes within hours of the completion date. Unfortunately, there are no legal restrictions on those who have accepted an offer as it stands in England.
So, how can you reduce the chances of being gazumped?
Reduce the time between offer acceptance and completion
We will cover various issues in detail later in this article. However, the simple fact is that if you can reduce the time between acceptance of your offer and completion, you reduce the chances of being gazumped. The less time the seller has to think and look around for other bids, the greater the chances they will be focused on your agreed deal.
Putting your team together
Acquiring a property requires the services of various parties, including conveyancer, solicitor and surveyor. Many people look for their dream property, make an offer, and then look around for assistance. This takes time and can extend the completion date, giving the seller more time to attract new offers. Before you make an offer, try to “put your team together” and make them aware that you may need their services relatively quickly.
Secure your mortgage
If you are paying cash, it is doubtful that you would be gazumped – simply because the process would be significantly reduced. However, as most people require mortgage finance, it makes sense to get an agreement in principle with your lender before making an offer. This shows the seller that you are serious, reduces the completion time and gives you the best chance of a successful purchase.
On the downside, a mortgage offer in principle is not a guarantee of finance and the mortgage company could change their mind after you have made an offer. While you could look elsewhere for financial assistance, this would take time and could put your house purchase in jeopardy.
Try to withdraw the property from the market
It makes perfect sense. If you have successfully bid for a property, why would the seller not seriously consider your request to withdraw the property from the market? You have agreed on the sale, the paperwork is going through, and everything is in place. In many ways, this tests the attitude of the seller. If they refuse to take the property off the market, does this raise a red flag?
If you are buying a car from the forecourt, the first thing the garage will do is place a sold notice on the vehicle. After that, they won’t accept any other offers, be open to a different type of gazumping and be true to their word. So why should a property seller treat you any differently?
Request a legal agreement
Something as simple as a legal agreement, otherwise known as a lock-in agreement, should help to ensure you get that dream property. These are legally binding agreements and will require both parties to put down a deposit. If one party fails to abide by the contract, they will lose their deposit. This simple action makes perfect sense. If the seller refuses to consider a lock-in agreement, you need to ask yourself why?
What to do if you have been gazumped
Unfortunately, with the best will in the world, there are occasions where people will be gazumped and potentially lose that dream property. Is there anything you can do to protect yourself?
Gazump the gazumper
There is the potential to make a higher offer. You would then become the gazumper, although this sticks in the throat for many people. On the other hand, you already had an agreement at a lower price; why should you pay extra? If you really want the property, and it still offers good value, you should put your emotions to one side. If this is your dream home, then consider biting the bullet and making an increased offer. Don’t get carried away, don’t get drawn into a bidding war, but if just a few hundred pounds or a couple of thousand pounds will make a difference, is it worth considering?
Point out the obvious
Many people get carried away accepting offers on properties that are already subject to confirmed bids. They forget that the gazumper may be in a vast chain, may not be able to complete for some time and could eventually drop out. Blinded by money, this is your chance to state the obvious. You have finance in place, your team have completed the relevant paperwork, and you are ready to go. Even better, you may be a cash buyer, which can seriously strengthen your position against a mortgage financed purchase. So if you want the property, don’t give up!
There are simple ways and means to reduce the dangerous gap between accepting an offer and exchanging contracts. There are also ways and means to add a degree of legal protection effectively for both parties. It may also be possible to head off a gazumper even after your original completion date has expired. It depends on your finances, whether you really want the property, and whether a possible increased offer still reflects value.
Even if you have been gazumped, it may not be over yet!
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