Q: I’ve just been gazumped – what can I do?


Being gazumped is an awful position to be in. Gazumping is when a vendor accepts an offer from one person only to later reject it in favour of a higher offer they receive from someone else.

In English law a buyers’ offer is not legally binding until written contracts are exchanged with the vendor, which happens towards the end of the buying process. You almost certainly have no legal recourse, and only limited options to get your offer re-accepted:

  • If you can increase your offer, you might be able to gazump your gazumper. But beware, you could be gazumped again.
  • If you can show that you can do a quick chain-free and mortgage-free purchase, you might be able to persuade the vendor that you are a better bet than the gazumper, who although has offered a higher price, might take longer, have difficulty arranging a mortgage or be part of a chain that falls through

The likelihood however is that all you can do is take a deep breath, swallow hard and put it all down to experience. But you should bear in mind these lessons to ensure it doesn’t happen again:

  • Always insist the property is taken off the market and no further viewings take place once your offer is verbally accepted, and before you appoint a solicitor and commission a survey
  • Agree a clear and prompt time frame with the estate agent for completion and ensure you do everything you can to stick to it to demonstrate your seriousness to the buyer and create a climate of trust
  • Make sure you are in as strong position as possible to exchange quickly – ie you have your mortgage lined up, and the sale of your existing home as far advanced as possible. If you cause delays to the process, you are more likely to be gazumped.
  • Push for an exchange of contracts as quickly as possible
  • Try to find an estate agent who frowns on this practice

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