Knowing how to gazump successfully can be very important when properties are in short supply.
In fact, no matter what the market conditions, if you have found your dream home but it’s already under-offer, knowing how to gazump successfully can be the difference between securing the home and not.
So, let’s take a look in a little more detail at what gazumping is and how and when you should use it to secure your ideal home at a fair price.
What Is Gazumping?
Let’s start by defining what gazumping actually is.
According to the dictionary, the official definition of ‘gazumping’ is to:
Make a higher offer for a house than (someone whose offer has already been accepted by the seller) and thus succeed in acquiring the property.
So, in short, it essentially means that someone else thinks they have secured the property but you are attempting to swipe it from under their nose by coming in with a higher offer.
You can read more about exactly what it involves on our post – What Is Gazumping?
Should You Even Think About Gazumping Someone?
Gazumping someone is not something you should do lightly. It’s one of the biggest fears of house hunters. Buyers who try and gazump people are often viewed with disdain and even hatred!
The more time that passes after a buyer has had an offer accepted, the more cost they are likely to incur.
So, when you successfully gazump someone, you are most likely costing them financially. But, more than that, you could be breaking their hearts if they have really fallen for the property.
Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? Not necessarily.
The housing market is a competitive place, and ultimately, you need to look out for yourself.
If you have found your dream property in your perfect location at a good price, but, an offer has already been accepted, gazumping may the only option if you are to avoid having your own heart broken.
Gazumping is not big and it’s not clever, but, while it may be a little immoral, it’s not illegal. And that means if you have to do it to get the property that’s right for you, you have to do it.
We once saw a property that ticked every box for us. It was the only one we had seen that did.
We were watching it every day, hoping it didn’t go under offer before we were in a position to make an offer ourselves. Unfortunately, a few weeks before we got an offer on our property, it changed to SSTC.
Once we got an offer on our property, we struggled with whether to attempt to gazump the buyers or not. In the end, we decided it was at least worth making an enquiry as you never know if the transaction is experiencing issues.
We spoke to the estate agent and explained how much we liked the property but we understood an offer had been accepted on it. However, we asked if there was any way the sellers would allow us to view it still.
As the estate agent has an obligation to pass on all enquiries to the vendor, our request was put forward to them.
In this case, the sellers were happy with the way their original buyer was progressing and refused our request, taking the opportunity to gazump them out of the equation.
Was it right what we did? Well, you might have your own opinion on that but we felt it was worth it just in case the transaction wasn’t progressing well.
How To Gazump Successfully
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
If you’ve decided that you simply MUST have that dream home that’s already under offer, here’s how to gazump successfully (or at least give yourself a fighting chance!):
Develop A Rapport With The Agent
Much of what you are about to do relies on you having a good rapport with the estate agent handling the sale.
Make sure you explain your situation, tell them why you love the property so much, what your plans are for it, and so on.
An estate agent who understands where you’re coming from is more likely to put your gazumping offer forward to the vendor in the best possible light.
This is what we attempted to do when we considered gazumping on our dream property. We explained to the estate agent why we loved it so much and highlighted the strengths of our own position.
While the estate agent wasn’t keen on encouraging gazumping, they understood our position and were obliged to pass on our request to the vendor.
Find Out The Buyers Position
Ask the estate agent what the position of the buyer is. They can’t tell you every little detail and won’t tell you the exact offer that’s been accepted.
However, they can give you a general overview that might help you ascertain why you might be a more attractive buyer and what level you might need to offer to get the interest of the vendor.
We’ve found with reputable estate agents, this can be quite tough as they don’t like to encourage gazumping. But, it’s still worth a go.
Find Out The Sellers Position
Equally, knowing the sellers position can be vital. Do they need to move quickly? Are they in a chain? Have they already found their dream home?
All of this can give you ammunition to work with. At worst, it will highlight the challenges that you may be up against and that can influence how high you make your offer.
We found this is often a little easier than trying to get information about the buyer. Often, the estate agent knows more about the sellers position anyway. They’re often more willing to share, especially if they think it might put you off trying to gazump!
Ask The Agent When The Offer Was Accepted
It’s important to know how far along the process the current buyer and vendor are. If they have had all the searches and surveys done and are about to exchange contracts, you’ll know even a large offer may not be enough.
On the other hand, if the offer was only accepted a matter of days ago, there may still be time to tempt the vendor even with only a slightly higher offer.
In our situation we found that the buyer and seller were already progressing through the process quite well and surveys had been arranged. That made it very difficult to convince them to even consider letting us gazump their buyer.
Make A Good Offer
There’s no point in trying to gazump someone just by offering a few hundred pounds more than the offer that’s already been accepted.
Even a couple of thousand pounds may not be enough extra to tempt many sellers. Instead, you’ll probably need to beat the existing offer by several thousand to stand a chance of gazumping successfully.
This may mean you’ll need to go even higher than the original asking price.
Just keep in mind that no matter how much you love the property, there’s no point in getting carried away and offering more than you can afford or significantly more than the property is worth.
Stay calm and keep your offers realistic yet high enough to tempt the vendor into breaking off their verbal agreement with the current buyer.
In our situation, we were lucky enough that our dream property was below our maximum budget. That meant that even though we knew another offer had been accepted, we were likely to be able to make a higher offer.
Play On Your Strengths
If you are not in a chain, make it crystal clear. If you’re in a chain but your property is already sold, mention that. If you are a cash buyer or already have a mortgage approved, let the agent know.
Do everything in your power to dress up your offer as not just better financially, but also more favourable in other areas too.
Unfortunately for us, we were in a chain and so we couldn’t use this to our advantage and ultimately that was one reason we failed in our gazumping quest!
The faster you move, the more chance you have of gazumping successfully. Time is of the essence.
Remember, the more time that passes, the closer to a completion date the current offer will be and therefore the less willing the seller is likely to be of entertaining other offers.
This ultimately worked against us when we tried to gazump someone. We wanted to move quicker but we knew that we had a much better chance of being successful if we were in a position where we could immediately proceed with the purchase.
That meant we had no choice but to wait until we had accepted an offer on our property.
These tips should help you understand how to gazump successfully, but there are a few other things to keep in mind…
Do Estate Agents Make Up Offers?
One common school of thought is that estate agents sometimes make up offers on properties in order to rush you into making an offer or pushing up the offer you make.
Is this a genuine thing you should be concerned about? Well, we can’t say it definitely doesn’t happen.
The vast majority of estate agents will not engage in such shady practices, but there are almost certainly some out there who will.
Remember, unlike online estate agents, traditional high street agents tend to be paid a commission based on the final sales price. That means every increase in offer price gives them a bigger commission.
Naturally, some may use that as a reason to make up offers. And, if they really want to push you, they may convince you an offer has been accepted and encourage you to put in a much higher offer than you were considering in order to gazump the other buyer.
So, the answer is yes, estate agents may make up offers. But, it’s not as common as you may think, so, if you are being told you’ll need to gazump someone to get a property, you probably should just trust that really is the case.
While we can’t be certain, we feel like we have had estate agents make up offers before. Not necessarily to up their budget, but to at least get us to make an offer that had a chance of being accepted.
We were told “the seller has rejected offers higher than that so you’ll need to increase your offer”. It may or may not have been true but when we spoke to the seller, it didn’t sound like they had.
Estate Agents Gazumping Policy
How an estate agent deals with someone who wants to gazump on a property will depend on their gazumping policy.
Some agents actively discourage gazumping, others actively encourage it!
Remember, the vendor is the client of the estate agent, not the buyer. The estate agents job is to help the vendor sell the property for the highest possible price. That means they must pass on all offers to the vendor.
In fact, estate agents are legally bound to pass on all offers on a property right up to when contracts are exchanged!
That means, regardless of the estate agents gazumping policy, you are well within your rights to ask your gazumping offer to be passed on to the seller.
Of course, it helps if the estate agent is OK with gazumping as they’ll be advising the seller as the offer is passed on. That’s again where that good rapport could come in handy.
In our experience, the estate agent didn’t encourage gazumping but still passed our request on to the seller.
If you are successful in gazumping someone, there’s one thing you know about the vendors of the property – they are open to gazumping offers!
That means once you gazumping offer is accepted, you yourself become ‘at risk’ of being gazumped. And that’s why taking out gazumping insurance could be worthwhile.
For around £50-£60 you can take out a Home Buyers Protection Insurance policy. This will help protect you financially should you purchase for through for a number of reasons, including if you become a victim of gazumping yourself.
This so-called ‘gazumping insurance’ can be invaluable at times when properties are in high demand and gazumping is commonplace.
Is Gazumping Legal?
So, one final question you need to know the answer to when looking at how to gazump successfully – is gazumping legal?
It’s a good question as it’s clearly a questionable, and slightly immoral, act.
However, there is absolutely nothing illegal about gazumping. Contrary to popular belief that even applies to gazumping in Scotland where the buying process is slightly different.
So, wherever you are in the UK, gazumping is perfectly legal. There’s nothing to stop you outbidding someone at the last possible moment, even after an offer has been accepted.
There we have it, everything you need to know about how to gazump successfully. We hope that has helped you decide if and how you should go about gazumping someone.
If you’ve successfully gazumped someone before or you have views on whether gazumping is right or wrong, let us know in the comments below!