To put a name to some of these sneaky strategies, property experts have coined the terms gazumping and gazundering. ‘Gazanging’ was the next addition (where after accepting an offer, the sellers take it off the market), and now we welcome a new member to the family (drum roll please)... Gazinding.
This new term seems fairly similar to gazundering, and refers to a buyer reducing their offer in the final stages of the transaction just before the exchange of contracts. This leaves the seller with a tricky decision to make; accept the last minute lower offer, or put the property back on the market.
The reasons buyers do this will vary from person to person – some people will genuinely have a valid reason to pull out, whereas others simply have a change of heart or their nerves get the better of them. Whatever the reason, the outcome seldom differs, and occasionally people are prepared to pull some rather ruthless moves to try to get a better deal.
If you are selling your home, it is impossible to prevent this from happening, but you can at least reduce the likelihood by following these suggestions.
Choose your buyer carefully
If you are lucky enough to have more than one offer on your property, remember that a higher offer isn’t guaranteed to be better in the long run. Do a bit of research on your buyer and choose carefully. You may encounter fewer problems if your buyer is not part of a chain and already has a mortgage agreed in principle.
Keep things moving
If you can complete the transaction as quickly as possible, there is less chance of things becoming stale and falling through. Try to aim for a timescale between 6 and 8 weeks to complete.
Keep communication open
If you can cultivate a good rapport with your buyer, it may help to deter them from letting you down when it matters most. Stay in contact with your estate agent to give them regular updates to reassure the buyers that things are moving steadily on and make sure that they are notified of any new developments.
It’s best to be upfront
Any sensible buyer will arrange to have a property survey carried out before going ahead with a transaction. Therefore, if you know that a surveyor will find an issue with your property, it’s probably best to be upfront about it rather than risk the sale falling through if the buyer suddenly wants to renegotiate on the sale price.
Sometimes renegotiation can save the day, if you can stick with the buyer you have you will avoid having to restart the process of marketing your home and so forth.
If you are a buyer, negotiating a better deal is one thing, but demanding too large a reduction in price could lead to feelings of resentment in your seller which will not help matters if a ‘gazumper’ comes along, or if the transaction does go through, they may decide to remove everything they legally can from the property, including the light bulbs.
Have a ‘plan B’ ready
Remember that no property transaction can truly be guaranteed until you exchange contracts. Because of this, you might be well advised to keep your house on the market even though you think you have a definite buyer. That way, you won’t have to go right back to square one if things don’t turn out as planned.
You can read more helpful suggestions for buying or selling your home in our moving advice section.
Updated September 2017