Gazundering can be avoided when selling your home

Updated: September 28, 2018

You’re about to exchange contracts, you’re all set to sell, then your buyer suddenly reduces their offer. Welcome to the world of gazundering.

Man receiving news about gazundering

Gazundering - can they do that?

Unfortunately, a buyer lowering an offer on your house at the eleventh hour is perfectly legal, even if it doesn’t seem terribly ethical. Until you exchange contracts, nothing is legally binding.

So when you’re selling a home, how can you prevent gazundering

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Ask a fair price

Naturally you want to get as much for your property as you can, but making sure you’re not asking over the odds will help prevent last minute panic from a buyer. The buyer may initially have been willing to offer a lot to secure a home they love, only to feel later on that they had been too bullish with their offer

You also don’t want to be in the position of ‘desperate to sell’ if you can avoid it, and an asking price that’s too high will make it harder to get lots of offers. So when you ultimately do get a buyer, you may have put yourself under pressure to give in to a last minute offer that’s actually too low and undermine your home move.

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Hire proactive, efficient property professionals

By this I mean the agent and conveyancing solicitor who will be working alongside you during the selling process.

Read reviews or get recommendations as to who to go with; cutting corners probably won’t work in your favour. You want to avoid delays – get things signed swiftly with no procrastination – and have professionals on board who are adept at ensuring everything remains rosy on the buyer’s side. Set an exchange date as soon as you can to keep everyone focused.

If your side is communicating regularly with the buyer and their team and establishes good relationships from the start, the buyer may feel far less inclined to 'stitch you up' down the line. And if you get on well with the buyer too, all the better, as it will make it harder for the buyer to reduce their offer.

Are you looking for a proactive conveyancing solicitor?  Get a conveyancing quote here.

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Work hard towards a ‘no surprises’ survey

I know you want to put the home you’re trying to sell in the best possible light, but this is no time for 'papering over the cracks'.

If there are issues with your property, or the area it’s in, that will emerge once a survey has been carried out, far better to have been honest about them.

If you have been open about any issues from the outset, the initial offer will already reflect the true state of affairs and is less likely to be undermined by a last minute discovery that changes everything. Surveys and reports investigate drainage, electrics, gas, damp, timber and more, so assume it’s going to be thorough. 

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Multiple offers? Take the chain-free option

Not everyone has this luxury of course, but if you have options as to which buyer to go with, someone who isn’t dependent on a buyer (or buyers) themselves is less likely to come up against unexpected stumbling blocks at the last minute. And stumbling blocks can lead to gazundering.

When you accept an offer, have a think about whether you would have accepted something lower. If this is clear in your mind from the start, you’ll know whether a last minute change crosses your lowest price threshold.

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What if I do get gazundered, despite precautions?

If your buyer lowers their offer at the last minute, try to ascertain why, and ask for proof of their reasons.

They may be chancing their arm and hoping you’ll accept less just to save the headache of starting the selling process all over again. Or they may have discovered new information about your property that has made them nervous about the asking price. Or, they may have been gazundered themselves by their own buyers, and simply have less money to play with. 

If you think the buyer is trying it on, you need to decide which is your priority: getting the previously agreed price or selling your property. Is the offer so low you’re willing to go back to square one?

Or, you may discover that your buyer has a good reason to drop their offer. Communicate, investigate, and see whether you can find middle ground.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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