How to Trump the Gazumpers

by : Tracy Kellett


Britain has the highest incidence of gazumping in Europe, with around one in three buyers falling victim to the practice. Tracy Kellett from home search company BDI Home Finders explains how you can best protect yourself.

It's no surprise that the UK is the gazumping capital of Europe. The phrase an Englishman's home is his castle is based on a heavy dose of reality.

In London, perhaps more than anywhere else, we are truly obsessed with property and will stop at nothing to win the keys to our dream home: even if that involves stealing it from right under the nose of a rival.

Gazumping occurs when a vendor has already agreed to sell you a property and then goes on to accept a better offer from someone else before you contracts have been signed. Illegal in Scotland, there is no law against this unfortunate practise in the rest of the UK.

As director of property search agency BDI Home Finders, my clients count on me to steer them unscathed through the gazumping minefield. Having a professional on your side can certainly offer maximum protection against bad vendor behaviour. But if you are going it alone, the following advice could help to ensure that buying your dream home doesn't turn into a nightmare.

(1)Friendly and frequent communication with the vendor and their estate agent goes a very long way to ensure that you don't end up licking your wounds. A vendor will find it much harder to do the dirty on a buyer with whom they have built a good relationship. Keep in contact - don't be embarrassed to call the vendor/ estate agent every other day to keep up the contact

(2)Speed is everything when it comes to protecting yourself against gazumping. Ideally, before putting in an offer on a property, you will already have sold your own home (if you are not a first time buyer), have a mortgage agreed in principle and have a solicitor in place and ready to go.

(3)Make it a condition of your offer that once it is accepted, the home is taken off the market. Be suspicious of any vendors who are not prepared to do this.

(4)If you are really worried that the vendor may be open to gazumping, consider asking for a lock-in. This commits both parties to sticking to their verbal agreement and to exchanging within an agreed period of time. Each pays a small deposit (1.5-2 percent of the agreed offer) and if either side backs out of the agreement, the other receives both deposits.

(5)Especially if you are buying in a property hot-spot, don't quibble too much over the asking price or fixtures and fittings.