Gazumping- What is that , is it legal and how to avoid it?
How to avoid being gazumped – an essential guide to the first time buyers
In simple terms, Gazumping is when a vendor has accepted an offer from a potential buyer but later sells to another buyer.
Although it may seem like a very ‘illegal’ thing to do, Gazumping is very much legal. The conveyancing process is a two stage legal process: exchange and completion and until contracts are exchanged, the transaction is not binding.
This means that either party can walk away from the transaction before contracts are exchanged with no legal implication.
Unfortunately, this also means that if you have been gazumped at a pre-exchange stage then you will be left to pay a legal bill for all pre-exchange work conducted by your solicitors.
There are many reasons that a vendor may sell his/her property to another party although your offer had been accepted, but we find the most common reasons to be:
1. The seller has accepted a higher offer for the property
2. The vendors solicitors are experiencing delays with your solicitors
3. You do not have your finances in hand
How to prevent being gazumped
In order to prevent being Gazumped, we suggest the following top tips to bear in mind:
1. Speak to the estate agent to get an idea of how popular the property is
If you have had viewed the property and are quite keen to purchase the property then estate agents will be able to advise you on how popular the property is and whether the buyer is likely to receive offers under or over the asking price. If the property is struggling on the market then there is a good chance that the vendor will accept an offer under the asking price and will be keen to sell this to you. If however, the property is gaining a lot of interest, then it is worth you making a competitive offer to ensure that you are not gazumped for a higher offer at a later stage.
2. Be transparent from the outset about your finances and timescales by which you intend to complete the purchase
We find that vendors become frustrated during the conveyancing process when prospective purchasers avoid confirming their finances from the outset i.e. cash purchase, mortgage or chain transaction. It is therefore very important that you let your solicitors know how you are funding the purchase from the outset so that all parties can aim for a realistic completion date.
If you are having trouble with finances for any reason, then it is best that you disclose this as soon as possible. In some cases, if the delay is only by a few weeks then the vendor may empathise and may be willing to extend the completion target date. If however, you do not disclose your financial hiccups and the vendor feels that you are time wasting, then it is very likely he will sell the property to another party.
3. Secure a mortgage offer in principal
If you are keen on purchasing a new property then it is worth contacting a mortgage lender to provide you with a mortgage offer in principle before property hunting, to ensure that you can book a survey in as soon as your offer to purchase has been accepted. This will show the vendor that you are serious about the purchase and it will make a good impression.
4. Ask for the property to be taken off the market
You could ask the vendor to take the property off the market as part of acceptance of your offer.
5. Ask your solicitors to draft a lock-in-agreement / exclusivity agreement
If the property you have viewed is one that you cannot bear to lose then you could ask your solicitors to draft an agreement to prevent the vendor from entertaining other offers for a fixed period of time i.e. 4 weeks. Of course, you would incur additional legal fees as this is not a standard conveyancing document, but at least this would provide you with peace of mind to have a survey booked or to secure your finances without the threat of being gazumped.
6. Obtain insurance
Some specialist insurance providers will offer insurance to cover legal, survey and mortgage lending costs should a purchase fall through. It will not prevent you from being gazumped, but it will at least help you to minimise your losses in the event unfortunate event that you are.
If you would like to instruct our conveyancing team for a residential or commercial sale/purchase, please do not hesitate to call our offices or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.