What does the term gazumping mean?

Angela Ellis

Let’s imagine you’ve offered on a property you want to buy and that offer is accepted by the sellers. Someone else comes along (before contracts are exchanged) and offers the sellers more money – and they accept that new higher offer. You have been gazumped. 

Although sometimes gazumping can be due to timing delays preventing the owners selling the house as quickly as they would like, this can be anything from solicitors taking their time to surveys taking too long to be completed or a delay in you selling your own home, this will sometimes result in the owners accepting another offer in favour of yours.

If the property you’re buying is remarketed because of a slow sale/purchase, you would have been made aware of the situation and the potential risk.

Most sellers don't go looking for a higher offer after you’ve agreed to buy - certainly not if the process is advanced. Estate agents don’t like gazumping and will NOT be encouraging an owner to do this at all so if a seller takes an alternate offer after agreeing a sale, please know that it is entirely of the owner’s choice and not the agent’s doing.

Gazumping can happen at any time prior to the exchanging of contracts, for example when a property is listed as ‘SSTC’ on our website, this simply means that an offer has been accepted but the sale is still ‘subject to contract’ and does not become legally binding until the exchange of contracts are complete. If the property has been removed from the market after your offer, gazumpings can only happen from someone who viewed the property before you agreed to buy it.

“How can I avoid being gazumped?”
 Please be assured that it doesn’t happen very often. In the current market, with more buyers than properties for sale, there are two things you can do to help.

Plan ahead

Prior to putting an offer in on a house, ensure you have obtained an Agreement in Principle and have appointed a legal representative, as this can help to prevent any potential delays. 

Act fast

Although this can be challenging and sometimes hold ups can be out of your control, do everything in your power to make your end of things run as smoothly and promptly as possible, such as filling out any documentation as quickly as you can, also regular contact and checking in with both mortgage broker and solicitor can help to keep your case at the top of the priority list. These ‘speeding up the process’ blogs are worth a read if you’re selling and if you’re buying

“I’ve been gazumped. What can I do now?”

There is a possibility to gazump the gazumper. Do check this is still within your affordability and won’t cause you any financial struggles. If this doesn’t work out in your favour, try not to feel to disheartened. Start looking for other options. As they say there are plenty more fish in the sea, as there are other homes on the market. Something else is likely to come up soon that ticks all of your boxes, and having your mortgage and solicitor/conveyancer in place will help.