What is Gazumping? Should home buyers be afraid of it?

You may have heard the term Gazumping before, but you may not be familiar with what exactly it is. Gazumping, is a term that is used to describe an instance in which the seller of the property you are interested in, accepts another offer from someone else before the sale of the property to you is completed.

The word “Gazumping” is believed to be derived from the Yiddish word “Gezumph”, meaning to swindle or cheat someone out of something, used back in the 1920’s. When relating to house buying, the term was much more commonly used during the 1970-80’s.

Is Gazumping illegal?

When we have spoken to customers about this in the past, we have heard outcries from people who think surely, this must be illegal? Unfortunately, this is not the case at all and Gazumping is very much legal, as immoral as it is.

It’s quite a common occurrence, regularly cropping up during peoples home buying process across England and Wales. Why is it the case though? How can a practice like this be legal?

The reason is because until written contracts are exchanged by lawyers, the deals you make with a seller are not legally binding, they have no obligation to hold onto the property for you. Until your deal is completed, everything is essentially just a verbal agreement.

The idea of being Gazumped can understandably be quite a daunting concept for many first time buyers in Newcastle, even if there’s no guarantee of it happening. It’s the idea of possibly losing your dream home. Nobody wants it to happen, especially if you are a part of a property chain.

An aspect that can make it sting even more, is the prospect of you potentially losing money because of Gazumping. You may have paid for property surveys, conveyancing fees and mortgage arrangement fees, which are likely non-refundable.

How does Gazumping happen?

As touched upon above, the agreement between parties to buy or sell a property will not become a legally binding one, until lawyers perform an exchange of contracts.

This isn’t always quick, as there could be a several week delay between the point of having your offer accepted and the exchange of contracts taking place.

During this particular period, other prospective first time buyers in Newcastle may jump in to make the seller a much better offer on the property, either through speaking to an estate agent or by going directly to the seller.

These deals may be much more preferable, whether it’s a higher purchase price, the promise of a faster sale, or that particular buyer not having the pressure of a property chain. Gazumping as a term, covers any of these offers that the seller accepts whilst you’re going through your mortgage process.

Buyers Market vs Sellers Market

Whether or not the market is a buyers or sellers market may have an impact of your likelihood of being Gazumped by a seller.

If the market is currently a sellers market, that means the market is hot. There’s a strong demand, fewer properties, people want to buy and there may be bidding wars between buyers, thus driving prices up. In this case, Gazumping is more likely, as someone may drop in with a much higher offer.

On the other hand, if the market is currently a buyers market, there’s more houses than buyers, a seller may not be receiving as many offers, therefore you have less chance of someone Gazumping you and you have much more room to negotiate on price.

Ways to Avoid Being Gazumped

The delay that occurs between offer acceptance and the exchange of contracts between two parties can be due to having a property survey taken out. This is where your conveyancer will carry out the appropriate searches and you will receive your mortgage offer.

With this in mind, there are a few helpful tips you can use in order to help increase your chances of furthering yourself to mortgage success and avoiding being Gazumped.

  • Find a conveyancing solicitor or surveyor in advance, to reduce the wait time.
  • Provide all the necessary information as quickly as you can, to speed up your mortgage process.
  • Obtain a mortgage agreement in principle to show the seller that you are ready to proceed, unlike other sellers who may try to swoop in without confirmation of their mortgage eligibility.

There are also a selection of other potentially useful mortgage tips that could really benefit you during your mortgage process and further your chances of obtaining a mortgage.

Other Helpful Gazumping Tips

First of all, as a part of your mortgage offer to the seller, you should ask them to remove the property from the open market. Doing so limits how many people can see the property is for sale, which in turn reduces additional offers being made and thus reduces your chances of being Gazumped.

The seller doesn’t have to agree to do this for you, as once again there is no obligation. That being said, it is quite commonplace these days for sellers to respect this request from a buyer, especially if they haven’t been too fortunate in receiving offers as it is.

Second of all, you could look at putting a lock-in agreement in place, which would see both sides putting down a deposit towards their binding agreement. This would mean that if any one party chose to withdraw or change the deal, the other party would take their deposit.

There can be legal fees involved in setting something like this up, so it may be a costly decision, but you may feel like having this in place is worth the cost for the security it would provide you with during your mortgage process.

Lastly, there may be potential insurance options that you could take out as a means of protecting yourself against the prospect of Gazumping. These policies will pay out if you are Gazumped, protecting you against the possible loss of money, due to fees you have potentially paid throughout your process.

How a Mortgage Broker in Newcastle Can Help

Whilst Gazumping is never guaranteed to be prevented, there is a lot as you have seen, that can help protect a buyer from a higher likelihood of being Gazumped. As a trusted and knowledgeable mortgage broker in Newcastle, we may be able to offer some help.

We pride ourselves on our responsive service, working hard to get our customers through their process as quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst keeping them informed at every stage. This is a benefit to home buyers, as at least as far as things we can control are concerned, we can speed up your process.

In addition to this, we also have the ability to obtain a mortgage agreement in principle for you, typically within 24 hours of your initial appointment. Depending on the time of day you speak to your mortgage advisor, you may even be lucky enough to get this back the same day!

As mentioned above, having this AIP gives you and the seller the confidence that you are able to proceed with a mortgage, as opposed to someone who may have a better deal, but cannot confirm whether they’ll even be eligible for a mortgage.

Book your free mortgage appointment today and we’ll help you along with your mortgage journey, as a first time buyer in Newcastle.

First-Time Buyer Mortgage Advice in Newcastle


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