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One of the worst things when buying a house, is hearing your offer has been accepted, only for the seller to accept another offer from someone else. This is called gazumping. How do you prevent this from happening?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What Exactly is Gazumping?

Gazumping is when the seller of a property initially accepts an offer from a buyer but then accepts another offer from a second buyer before the sale is finalised. If you’ve been on the wrong end of gazumping, it can be incredibly disheartening and even infuriating. It is always difficult to hear that the seller has accepted a different offer even though they had agreed to yours first.

Gazumping: Consequences and Costs

Being gazumped doesn’t just involve disappointment, however—in some cases, it can be incredibly costly. Being gazumped means all the non-refundable costs, such as surveys, conveyancing, and mortgage valuation are sunk.

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Moving can be a really stressful event in life. If you are in the process of buying a house, there are plenty of steps before moving in. However, it is important to estimate all the costs of your move if you like to keep on with your budget. You are now close to finalising the deal for your new house, so it’s a great time to request several quotes from local removal companies.

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Unfortunately, gazumping is legal in England and Wales. This is because an agreement to buy or sell a property is not legally binding until the contracts are written and exchanged. Until this exchange occurs, the 2 parties cannot be held to a previous verbal agreement.

When Can You Be Sure the Deal is Done?

Estate agents are legally obligated to pass every offer they receive on to the seller. This means it is against the law for them to refuse when a buyer asks them to submit an offer, even if the seller has already accepted an offer earlier. Also, they are not able to force the seller to stick to the initial offer unless the written contracts have been exchanged.

Confirm your Offer With a Written Contract

So the only time you can be sure that you won’t be gazumped is once the written contracts have been exchanged between you and the seller. After that, it’s time to move on to the next step of preparing to move into your new home!


Tips to Avoid Being Gazumped

No one wants to be gazumped. If you’re on the hunt for a new home and you’re afraid of gazumping, here are a few tips on how to avoid it.

#1. Be as Quick as Possible

After you have your offer accepted, you need to make sure that you are ready to proceed. Of course, it can be difficult to have everything ready before you make your offer. However, keep in mind that if there are things you need to do before the house-buying process can progress, this takes time. And the longer it takes, the more opportunities there are to be gazumped.

Lower the chances of gazumping by getting necessary tasks completed as quickly as you can. These include arranging for surveys, getting conveyancing done, and finalising the sale of your home.

#2. Ensure that the Property Goes off the Market

Try asking the seller to take their home off the market. If you have clearly shown your intent to purchase the property, then the seller should be willing to do this. Although sellers aren’t obligated to do so, it never hurts to ask!

What is ‘Subject To Contract’?

When the seller accepts an offer, their agent will mark the property as Sold STC (Subject To Contract). It indicates to others that an offer has been accepted and the next step is to write and exchange the contracts. However, this does not mean that other buyers are prohibited from submitting their offers.

#3. Mortgage in Principle

One way to reduce the chance of being gazumped is to have your mortgage approved in principle. This means that a lender has given you an estimate of what you can borrow and acts as a conditional offer that they will give you a loan “in principle.”

Getting a mortgage in principle shows that you are ready to get the paperwork started as soon as possible. Part of avoiding being gazumped is indicating to the seller that you are ready and able to finalise the buying process almost immediately after they have accepted your offer.

#4. Lock-in Agreements

Another thing you can do to avoid gazumping is to obtain a lock-in agreement, where the seller agrees not to entertain other offers for a fixed time. During this time, you can get a few things done like your mortgage without having to worry about being gazumped.

#5. Insurance in the Case of Gazumping

Another option is to buy insurance to cover some of your costs in case you are gazumped. In this case, the insurance company will pay you an agreed amount to offset your losses. This won’t prevent gazumping but it will help minimise the risks.

#6. Nurture a Friendly Relationship

Getting along with the seller of the home you have your eyes on might seem insignificant but it can help make a difference. Try to develop a good relationship with the seller. If they have a good impression of you, they’ll be more likely to help make the process go quickly and smoothly. Also, they could be less willing to look at other offers if they like you and your offer.

If you Manage to Avoid Being Gazumped, Now What?

First of all, congratulations! Now that your offer has been accepted and the purchase almost completed, it’s time to get ready to move into your new home.

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