Frequently Asked Questions About Gazundering

How To Gazunder Successfully
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In the world of buying and selling properties, there are many terms and practices that you should be aware of. One of them is gazundering.

When we entered the property market to buy our first home, we were a bit overwhelmed with it all. There was so much to know, understand and be aware of.

So to make sure that you know all you need to know about this often frowned upon practice, we have created this Frequently Asked Questions page to help you along the way.

What Is Gazundering?

According to the dictionary, the official definition of ‘gazundering’ is:

to offer a lower price for a house that you have already agreed to buy at a higher price, before the contract is signed

Oxford Online Dictionary

So, in short, the practice entails a buyer reducing the amount they are willing to pay for a property after the original offer has already been accepted and before contracts are exchanged.

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Why Does Gazundering Happen?

There are many reasons why buyers decide to reduce their offer, including:

  • Cold Feet – Buying a house is a big decision and if your buyer suddenly doubts whether they can afford the house, they may reduce their offer.
  • Bad Survey – If the buyer gets a bad survey back, they may reduce their offer to help them cover the costs of the work that needs doing.
  • Pressure From The Chain – If your buyer is in a chain they may have been gazundered themselves and are now unable to pay the agreed sales price.
  • Delays – When your property sale suffers delays you risk being gazundered if your buyers’ mortgage offer expires and they need to find a new one
  • Competition – Buyers often continue looking for properties ‘just in case’ even after a sale is agreed. If they find one they prefer or is at a better price, they may reduce their offer.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does cover some of the main reasons you may be a victim of your buyer deciding to gazunder.

For us, we had to gazunder someone when the survey we conducted uncovered a number of issues. While some were minor and we would have been happy to absorb these costs, a few were a little more serious and would require some building work.

One issue was to do with the bathrooms that had been added during a renovation. While building regulations approval was in place, for them to consider it fully approved, they needed extractor fans adding to be able to sign it off and issue the completion certificate.

Our bathroom after we added an extractor fan
One of the bathrooms we had to add an extractor fan (circled) to.

This caused issues with our mortgage company who added a condition to the mortgage that this work had to be completed within 6 months of us moving in.

We calculated that the extra costs to do this and the rest of the work would come to around £2,000, so we put forward to the seller that we wanted her to either do the work herself (and send us proof), or we had to reduce our offer by the same amount (lower our offer).

She chose to allow us to reduce the offer as she didn’t want the disruption of doing it herself, and she also knew the issues would likely come up again with another buyer if we decided to walk away.

So, in the end, we were forced to gazunder as there was an additional, unexpected cost to us that we couldn’t avoid if we wanted a mortgage.

What’s The Difference Between Gazundering & Gazumping?

Whereas gazundering is something the buyer is in control of, gazumping is controlled by the seller.

That’s because gazumping is when the seller accepts an offer from another buyer, after having accepted a previous offer.

Therefore, with gazumping, the seller can always choose whether or not to accept the new offer or honour the previously accepted one.

Gazundering, on the other hand, is completely out of the hands of the seller.

If the buyer lowers their offer before contracts are exchanged, the seller can only choose whether or not to accept the new offer.

Should You Even Think About Gazundering Someone?

While the practice is usually frowned upon, it doesn’t mean there aren’t times when reducing your offer after it has been accepted may be a fair move.

After all, buying a home is probably one of the biggest purchases you make in your life, and you don’t want to be out of money for no fault of your own.

Therefore, this practice should always be kept in mind as an option. However, we’d suggest it should only be used when really necessary. We discuss legitimate reasons to gazunder in the next question.

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When Is It OK To Use Gazundering Tactics?

There are some legitimate reasons for why you may need to use such tactics, these can include:

Lowering Your Offer After Survey

If you’ve had a homebuyers report or structural survey conducted, and it’s thrown up some unexpected issues, you may be within your rights to lower your offer.

Of course, the issues should be major enough that it will cost you a significant amount to rectify. The issues should also not be ones that you had previously been warned about.

This is the situation we were in (as we explained above), where the survey and conveyancing process brought up several issues we couldn’t have known about when we placed our offer.

Financial Problems

Sometimes things just go wrong financially. It could be that the mortgage offer your had has expired and you’re struggling to find a suitable replacement.

It could be that you’ve been gazundered yourself and can no longer afford to proceed at the agreed price.

Whatever the reason, if a change in circumstances means you can no longer afford to pay the agreed price, lowering your offer may be your only option.

Keep in mind that this is one of the reasons least likely to succeed. After all, it’s likely the seller will have budgeted their onward purchase (if they have one) around the amount you originally offered.

If you have to reduce your offer simply because you can no longer afford it, there’s a reasonable chance the seller will decide to look for a more financially secure buyer instead of accepting your lower offer.

Sudden Market Crashes

It’s rare for property prices to crash overnight. Usually, any price crashes play out over a period of several weeks or months.

However, it is possible that if your transaction has been dragging on for some time, the property may no longer be worth the amount you agreed to pay.

Whether this is acceptable grounds for you to gazunder someone is down to personal interpretation. 

However, if the price has fallen so much that a mortgage lender may be reluctant to lend to you at the price agreed, you may have no choice but to lower your offer.

With a bit of luck, when you need to gazunder for this reason, the seller is also in a similar position – as is the rest of the chain. If that’s the case, there’s a chance the transaction can still proceed at the lower amount.

Is one of these situations the one you find yourself in and you feel you need to lower your offer? Read our guide about how to gazunder successfully to achieve your goal.

Is Gazundering Legal?

Many people feel like reducing the offer after it has been accepted should be illegal.

It seems unfair that, as a seller, you may have incurred costs in preparing for the move only to have the buyer lower their offer at the last minute.

However, while there are questions over how ethical the practice is, it’s actually perfectly legal.

Until the contracts are signed towards the end of the conveyancing process, neither party has any legal commitment to proceed with the transaction.

For us, we would say that gazundering has to remain legal, at least for as long as unforeseen issues can arise. Perhaps if every seller had to have their own comprehensive survey and some of the conveyancing process done (such as searches) before they can list, that would be different.

In such a case, the buyers would be able to see potential issues and costs to rectify before making an offer. This would certainly help reduce this practice, though we’d still question whether it should ever be made an illegal practice!

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How Do You Protect Against Gazundering As A Seller?

As a seller, the prospect of being gazundered is a scary one, especially because it’s out of your control. However, there are things you can do to minimise the risk:

  • Put your home on the market with a realistic sales price
  • Be upfront with any issues and don’t hide them
  • If any unexpected issues come up, offer to pay for fixing them
  • Look for a buyer that is chain-free
  • Remove yourself from the chain, for example by moving into renting
  • React quickly to requests from the buyers solicitor so as not to delay the process
  • Building up a rapport with your buyers can help to prevent them lowering their offer

If you want to know about this in more detail, head to our article about how to protect against gazundering as a seller.

How Do You Deal With Gazundering As A Seller?

How To Deal With Gazundering

No matter how well you protect yourself against being gazundered, there is always a chance that it happens. So it’s a good idea to know how to deal with it.

There are different ways you can approach it, depending on your circumstances:

  • Refuse to accept the lower offer, if the lower amount just isn’t viable for you
  • Re-Negotiate a new price, if you have wriggle room and don’t want to lose your buyer
  • Accept but with conditions, such as an agreed completion date
  • Just accept, if you have no other choice

Our article about how to protect against being gazundered as a seller also covers this topic in more detail.

How Do You Gazunder Successfully?

Most people probably don’t feel too comfortable when forced to gazunder their seller. But, as we have seen, there are situations where it’s the only option.

So for a buyer, it’s important to know how to gazunder, in case it ever comes to it. There are different tactics you can use, which are based on the reason you are doing it:

Gazundering After A Bad Survey Result

Unexpected costs uncovered by a homebuyers survey are often the reason why buyers want to lower their original offer. And it’s a valid one, as additional costs might make the purchase very difficult or even impossible.

But to gazunder successfully in this situation, don’t just reduce your offer, approach this way:

  • Discuss the survey report with the seller
  • See if the seller would be willing to carry out the repairs
  • If they refuse, get quotes for required work
  • Reduce your offer by the quoted amount – provide quotes as proof to seller

While there isn’t a guarantee the seller will agree, we found this is the approach that leads to the best results.

Gazundering When Financial Issues Arise

Whether your mortgage offer has expired and the new deal isn’t affordable for you or your buyer decided to lower their offer after a survey result, financial issues can arise that mean you aren’t able to honour the offer you made.

Whatever the reason, it’s a tricky situation, but here are the steps you can take to avoid losing your dream home:

  • Talk to the seller as soon as you can
  • Be honest and explain your situation
  • Make sure you tell them you explored all other options
  • Your lowered offer should just reflect the financial shortcomings and no more

While this won’t guarantee that you are successful, it will give you the biggest chance to hold on to your dream home.

The key factor though is the reason for the financial difficulties. It has to be a legitimate reason, such as we described above.

Of course, the seller might not be in a position to accept a lower offer, but if they can, honesty will be the best way to get them to agree.

Gazundering After A Crushed Market

That’s the most difficult situation, because many sellers might not see why it makes a difference. To be successful under these circumstances, the market crush must have a real impact on you.

This means, it can’t just be because you don’t like the fact the property lost some of its value. After all, you are likely to own it for at least a few years, so the value will go back up.

So unless the decrease in value has affected your ability to progress with the purchase, for example if your lender won’t lend you the agreed amount, your chances of being successful are low.

If the impact is real, take the same steps as outlined above.

If you want more advice on how to gazunder successfully, read our guide about this topic.


  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

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