The term gazumping is often use by the media but generally don’t paint a full picture of what actually happens and as such many often find it surprising and confusing to understand.
Gazumping is where a property sale has been agreed but contract not yet exchanged and a third party comes along and offers more – where a third party ‘gazumps’ the original buyer. Gazumping is a nightmare for the original buyer as they’ve no comeback against (even if a survey has been done) either of the other two parties. In other for it to happen the seller must have to accept the higher offer, although they don’t have to.
I have worked for clients on cases where a seller received higher offers but stuck to the original because they felt it was the honourable thing to do or preferred the original buyer. Also I have worked on cases where gazumping saved the chain – the original buyer was not taking it seriously or experiencing delays in securing mortgage and the chain was about to fall through – the new buyer moved ahead quickly and the whole chain completed. Gazumping normally occurs more often in a rising housing market, but probably not as much as the media would have you believe.
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