When you’re looking to buy a house, one of the best things you can hear is that your offer has been accepted. But soon after, one of the worst things you can hear is that the seller has just accepted another offer from someone else. This is called gazumping. So how do you prevent this from happening? Read on for a few tips!
What exactly is gazumping?
Gazumping is when the seller of a property initially accepts an offer from a buyer but then accepts another offer from a second buyer before the sale is finalised.
If you’ve been on the wrong end of gazumping, it can be incredibly disheartening and even be infuriating. It is always difficult to hear that the seller has accepted a different offer even though they had agreed to yours first.
Being gazumped doesn’t just involve disappointment, however—in some cases, it can be incredibly costly. Being gazumped means all the non-refundable costs, such as surveys, conveyancing, and mortgage valuation are sunk.
Is gazumping legal?
Unfortunately, gazumping is legal in Ireland. This is because an agreement to buy or sell a property is not legally binding until the contracts are written and exchanged. Until this exchange occurs, the 2 parties cannot be held to a previous verbal agreement.
Estate agents are legally obligated to pass every offer they receive onto the seller. This means it is against the law for them to refuse when a buyer asks them to submit an offer, even if the seller has already accepted an offer earlier. Also, they are not able to force the seller to stick to the initial offer unless the written contracts have been exchanged.
So the only time you can be sure that you won’t be gazumped is once the written contracts have been exchanged between you and the seller. After that, it’s time to move onto the next step of preparing to move into your new home!
So how can you avoid being gazumped?
No one wants to be gazumped. If you’re on the hunt for a new home and you’re afraid of gazumping, here are a few tips on how to avoid it.
Be as quick as possible
After you have your offer accepted, you need to make sure that you are ready to proceed. Of course, it can be difficult to have everything ready before you make your offer. However, keep in mind that if there are things you need to do before the house-buying process can progress, this takes time. And the longer it takes, the more opportunities there are to be gazumped.
Lower the chances of gazumping by getting necessary tasks completed as quickly as you can. These include arranging for surveys, getting conveyancing done, and finalising the sale of your home.
Ensure that the property goes off the market
Try asking the seller to take their home off the market. If you have clearly shown your intent to purchase the property, then the seller should be willing to do this. Although sellers aren’t obligated to do so, it never hurts to ask!
When the seller accepts an offer, their agent will mark the property as Sold STC (Subject To Contract). It indicates to others that an offer has been accepted and the next step is to write and exchange the contracts. However, this does not mean that other buyers are prohibited from submitting their offers.
Mortgage in principle
One way to reduce the chance of being gazumped is to have your mortgage approved in principle. This means that a lender has given you an estimate of what you are able to borrow and acts as a conditional offer that they will give you a loan “in principle.”
Getting a mortgage in principle shows that you are ready to get the paperwork started as soon as possible. Part of avoiding being gazumped is indicating to the seller that you are ready and able to finalise the buying process almost immediately after they have accepted your offer.
Lock in agreement
Another thing you can do to avoid gazumping is to obtain a lock-in agreement, where the seller agrees not to entertain other offers for a fixed period of time. During this time, you are able to get a few things done like your mortgage without having to worry about being gazumped.
One option is to buy insurance to cover some of your costs in case you are gazumped. In this case, the insurance company will pay you an agreed amount to offset your losses. This won’t prevent gazumping but it will help minimise the risks.
Nurture a friendly relationship
Getting along with the seller of the home you have your eyes on might seem insignificant but it can help make a difference. Try to develop a good relationship with the seller. If they have a good impression of you, they’ll be more likely to help make the process go quickly and smoothly. Also, they could be less willing to look at other offers if they like you and your offer.
If you manage to avoid being gazumped, now what?
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