How can I prevent gazundering when selling my home?

Gazundering is when a homebuyer reduces their offer just before exchange of contracts. But is it legal and what can you do if it happens to you?

Man receiving news about gazundering

Is gazundering legal?

It doesn't seem very ethical, but a homebuyer lowering their offer at the eleventh hour is perfectly legal. When buying or selling a home in England and Wales, nothing is legally binding until you exchange contracts.

So when you’re selling a home, what can you do to reduce the chances of gazundering happening to you?

Ask a fair price

Naturally, you want the best price for your property, but making sure you’re not asking over the market value may help prevent last-minute panic from a buyer.

The buyer may initially have been willing to offer over the odds, only to subsequently feel they had been too bullish with their offer.

You also don’t want to be in the position of being desperate to sell. An asking price that’s too high will reduce the chances of getting multiple offers. Multiple offers will both validate the asking price and allow you to consider broader criteria when choosing the most robust offer.

Instruct a proactive conveyancing solicitor

1-in-3 home sales fall through in England and Wales after an offer is accepted. Delays in the conveyancing process are a major contributing factor to abortive sales. The longer the conveyancing process takes, the greater the likelihood of the buyer's circumstances changing which might prompt a renegotiation.

Instructing a proactive solicitor who will push the transaction through can speed up the conveyancing process significantly.

Read more:

How long does the conveyancing process take?

There is also much you can do to speed up the conveyancing process, see:

How to speed up the conveyancing process

Aim for a no-surprises survey

When selling your home you will want to show it in the best possible light, but be careful not to 'paper over the cracks'.

If there are issues with your property, they will most likely emerge during the buyer's survey.

If you have been transparent about any known issues from the outset, the buyer's offer will reflect the condition of the property as-is. However, if the survey uncovers serious issues that could have been mentioned at the outset, the buyer may feel duped.

The buyer will probably expect a price reduction in line with the estimated cost of remedial works. The loss of trust could even prompt a more aggressive reduction in the buyer's offer and, depending on the severity of the problem, the buyer may pull out of the purchase.

Choose the right buyer

You may be lucky and receive multiple offers. A chain-free buyer doesn't add the risk of delays occurring elsewhere in the chain, which could slow down or jeopardise your sale.

A cash-buyer doesn't bring the risk of mortgage lender delays and down valuations.

In an ideal world, you will get an offer from a chain-free cash buyer. Such is the value of an offer from a buyer who can complete quickly, that you may choose to accept a lower offer.

Read more:

Selling your home? The highest offer may not be the best offer

What should if I am gazundered?

If your buyer lowers their offer at the last minute, ask them why and whether they can substantiate their reasons.

The buyer may be 'trying it on' - hoping you’ll accept a lower last-minute offer to avoid the headache of restarting the sale process.

The buyer may have discovered new information about your property (e.g. an adverse survey result) that has made them nervous about the asking price. The buyer may have been gazundered themselves, forcing them to lower their offer on your property.

Whether you accept the lower offer is up to you and will likely depend on the property market, how desperate you are to move and whether you are prepared to put your property back on the market.

Whatever the reason for the revised offer, you can still negotiate. You could meet the buyer halfway. Perhaps you could offer to leave certain fixtures and fittings as part of your negotiation?

Your estate agent will be invaluable at this point. Agents are skilled negotiators and will uncover the real reason for the revised offer, help you decide on the best option and handle the renegotiation with the buyer.

Read more:

Homebuyers: How to Reduce your Chances of Being Gazumped

Your next step

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher