What does gazumped mean? All your questions answered

“You’ve been gazumped” is something that no property buyer ever wants to hear. But what does ‘gazumped’ mean? We explain this controversial and often disruptive practice in our guide to gazumping.

Gazumped meaning: What happens when you are gazumped?

Being gazumped means that you have your offer to buy a property accepted, but then the seller accepts a higher offer from someone else. This means that your offer is now rejected, and you cannot complete the sale.

Crucially, it will generally happen right at the last moment if you’re gazumped, meaning that all the time you put into the sale is wasted. It may also cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds in conveyancing fees and property surveys, if they have already been carried out.

Is gazumping illegal?

Gazumping is entirely legal anywhere in the UK. The owner of a property is perfectly within their legal rights to accept any offer before the contracts are exchanged. Similarly, a buyer is allowed to try and outbid someone for any property, right up to the last minute.

Is it fair to gazump someone?

While it is legal to gazump someone, it is widely considered to be an unfair thing to do. However, it really depends on your outlook on the property market, and capitalism in general.

Do estate agents encourage gazumping?

Some estate agents actively encourage gazumping, some discourage it, depending on their gazumping policy. However, estate agents work for the owner of the property, not the buyer. It is their job to try and achieve the highest possible sales price for the owner.

It is also their legal duty to pass on all offers made to the property owner. This applies right up to the point where contracts are exchanged. So, if you want to gazump someone, you can insist that the estate agent passes on your offer, regardless of their policy.

Can you be gazumped in Scotland?

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually gazump someone, or be gazumped, in Scotland. Even though their property purchasing mechanisms are slightly different to those of the rest of the UK, gazumping is still legal in Scotland. However, it is much rarer here, because it involves changing solicitors, bringing added costs and inconvenience into the process.

Should I accept a gazumping offer as a seller?

You are legally within your rights to accept any offer on your property before contracts are signed and exchanged. If the gazumping offer is significantly higher than the original offer, it may prove attractive, even if it delays your sale completion schedule.

You will have to decide for yourself about the fairness of allowing someone to be gazumped.

Is gazumping the same thing as gazundering?

Gazumping and gazundering are not the same thing. Gazundering is when a buyer makes an initial offer on a property, and then changes their offer to a lower amount just before it’s time to complete the sale. This forces the seller to either accept the lower offer or reject it, which means starting the whole process again.

Like gazumping, gazundering is also entirely legal in the UK.

What can you do if you are gazumped?

If you are gazumped, you have three main options:

Walk away: If you cannot increase your own offer – or don’t want to – you can walk away from the purchase.Gazump the gazumper: You can up your own offer, outbidding the other party. Only do this if you are sure that your financial situation is strong enough to accommodate a higher offer.Convince the seller: Rather than offering more money, you can highlight your qualities as a buyer. If you are a no-chain buyer, a cash buyer, flexible on moving dates, etc, these are things that might sway the opinion of the seller.

How can I avoid being gazumped?

You can avoid being gazumped by trying to complete the sale process as quickly as possible. Once your offer has been accepted, keep things moving as much as you can. Make sure all your necessary documents and financials are in order and keep the pressure on your solicitor.

The HomeOwners Alliance has some further advice to help you avoid being gazumped.

If you need to know more about how offers and contracts work, our guide can help. For more general advice on buying a property, check out our 10-step guide.

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