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Gazumped … It’s not a nice-sounding word and it’s an even worse thing when it happens.

You found the house which ticked all your boxes, you instructed a solicitor, paid for conveyancing and it all looked as though you were heading for completion when, out of the blue and at the eleventh hour, you’re suddenly told the deal’s off.

It’s not that the seller’s changed their mind; it’s simply that someone else wants the house too and they’ve put in a higher offer. You lose – and, despite the money you’ve already invested, there’s little or nothing you can do about it.

So, if you’re hunting for a home right now, how do you try to ensure it doesn’t happen to you?

First, ask the vendor’s agent where they stand on gazumping … If you’re considering putting in an offer on a property, don’t be afraid to ask for some sort of assurance. You could even make it a condition. If the property has been on the market a little while, there’s a good chance the vendor will be happy to agree. They would have to balance the risk of losing the sale against the chance of making a few extra pounds and, if they haven’t had too many offers, the former is probably going to be more attractive.

Make your offer realistic … You may be the type to chance your arm and to come in with a figure  substantially below the asking price but, if you do, there’s the risk you could be outbid at a later stage. Obviously, negotiation is part of most property deals so we wouldn’t necessarily advocate matching the vendor’s asking price in every case but, the closer you can come, the narrower the margin you’re leaving for a gazumper. Of course, even then, there are no guarantees as there’s nothing to stop another buyer going above the asking price if they want the property badly enough – but then there’s little anyone can to beat off that kind of competition.

If your offer is accepted, ask if the property can be removed from the market… It’s a reasonable request after all. You have made an offer in good faith, the vendor has agreed, so why does the house need to remain in a high street window or even marked as still available on the online portals? If the vendor resists, then it suggests they’re still hopeful of a better offer which, of course, indicates a higher risk of being gazumped.

Get your own house in order… After all, if you’re not ready to move, then you’re increasing the risk that the vendor could become impatient and accept a rival offer, even if it’s only marginally higher than yours. Make sure you can’t be accused of dragging your heels, even if that means chivvying your solicitor along.

Make a date … And, having mentioned your solicitor, it might be worth chasing them to ensure contracts are exchanged as soon as possible. Try to get a specific date if you can and do what you can to ensure everyone sticks to it.

Although it still happens, gazumping is not as rife as it once was but, hopefully, following the advice above reduces the risk of it happening to you. If you still have any questions or if there’s anything else you feel we might be able to do to help – even if it’s finding the right property – just drop us a line or give us a call.