Gazumping is on the increase as demand for residential property rises rapidly, warn conveyancing solicitors Coles Miller.
Rising prices and a seller’s market are fuelling gazumping - leaving buyers heartbroken and out of pocket when the home which they have agreed to buy is then sold to someone else instead.
Poole property lawyer Ruth Kerley, a Partner at Coles Miller, said: “Unfortunately we are seeing an increase in gazumping.
“At this time of year there are fewer properties on the market and lots of buyers battling over them,” she added.
Gazumping is caused by vendors agreeing a sale with a buyer then selling their property to someone else before contracts are exchanged.
The buyer loses not only the future home they had set their heart on but also hundreds of pounds they had spent on a survey, search and environmental report.
They are effectively back at square one, minus hundreds of pounds in wasted disbursements.
“Gazumping is awful. The original buyers end up in floods of tears. There’s a massive amount of emotion that goes with moving. The tensions are astronomical,” said Mrs Kerley.
But although the conveyancing system in England and Wales is loaded against the buyer, there are ways of minimising the risk of gazumping and reducing its impact, she said.
Coles Miller recommends thoroughly checking out the vendor and their property before making an offer. That means asking important questions such as:
- How long has the property been on the agent’s books?
- Have any sales fallen through on the property? If so, how many? When? And Why?
- Is the seller buying on and if so have they found a suitable property to buy for themselves already?
- Are there any other issues which could cause problems later on?
- What time frame does the seller have in mind initially for a completion date?
It is possible to insure against certain costs being incurred by a buyer as a result of gazumping.
There are also lockout agreements in which the vendor agrees to compensate the buyer should the seller suddenly withdraw the property from the market or decide to sell it to someone else.
“The problem is that lockout agreements are themselves costly and often delay the conveyancing process whilst they are drawn up and agreed,” said Mrs Kerley.
“They are only really worth considering if the property involved is worth £750,000 or more - or if the vendor is known to be particularly unpredictable.”
Dorset solicitors Coles Miller have five offices in the county: Poole, Bournemouth, Charminster, Broadstone and Wimborne.
Their residential conveyancing team can provide legal advice on all kinds of specialist properties including:
They have also published a series of checklists on moving house and buying and selling property to help moving house much less stressful.
For more details about conveyancing, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner Ruth Kerley, 01202 694891.