Gazundering: What is it and how to stop it
We're here to help with all your gazundering worries...
Let’s say you’re selling your house. You’ve found a buyer (great!) and found somewhere you can’t wait to move to (even better!)
You’ve negotiated and you’re happy you’ve got a good deal, both on the house you’re buying and the house you’re selling. You’ve got exchange and completion dates booked in the diary and you’re looking ahead to a new adventure.
Just when you think you have everything in order and you’re about to exchange contracts, your buyer decides to drastically reduce their offer. You feel pressured to accept it because you need the sale to go through so you can move into your new house but you’re also unhappy with the new offer put forward to you.
You’ve been ‘gazundered’ and you’re in two minds about what to do…
Unfortunately, although this may only be an imaginary scenario for some, this is also the reality for many selling their house. According to ‘This is money’, 45% of people are worried about gazundering, a rise of 5% compared to the previous year.
Also, with the current coronavirus pandemic, house prices are projected to fall by 5% in 2021 (The Guardian), meaning buyers will be wary about overpaying, possibly pushing them to do some gazundering.
If you’re unsure what gazundering is, how to deal with it and what to do if it all goes wrong, then you’ve come to the right place!
What does gazundering mean?
Gazundering is when a buyer suddenly reduces their offer to the seller, before the exchange of contracts. Due to the offer being reduced right before the exchange, sellers can generally feel pressured to accept the offer.
If the buyer and seller are in a ‘chain’, the seller may be in a vulnerable position, as if they don’t accept the offer the chain breaks, they can’t buy the house they wanted to and they’re back to ‘square 1’.
Gazundering can happen for many reasons. For example, there may be major issues shown up on the survey. However, some people ‘gazunder’ for no reason at all and do it right before exchange, knowing the pressure put on the seller to accept the new lower offer.
We’re going to explore the many reasons for gazundering later, so make sure you keep reading to find them out!
Is gazundering illegal?
Sadly, gazundering isn’t illegal and there are no laws against it in England and Wales.
However, gazundering is a lot less likely in Scotland. Gazundering is still legal in Scotland but is less common due to the Law Society of Scotland rules. These rules monitor the activities of solicitors acting on behalf of buyers and prevent the solicitor from lowering the original offer if asked by the client.
Under these rules, if a client insists on gazundering, the solicitor is obliged to withdraw from acting on behalf of that client. It’s easy to see why gazundering is much less common in Scotland.
Is gazundering immoral?
Sadly, we can’t give you a yes or no answer to this. Whether gazundering is immoral will depend on each individual situation.
Gazundering, naturally, has bad connotations and so it may be assumed anyone who ‘gazunders’ does so with bad intentions. However, there are multiple ‘innocent’ reasons as to why a buyer may gazunder.
If a buyer has seen that the seller is vulnerable and used this to their advantage through gazundering, then you could argue this is immoral. Is it fair for a buyer to pray on weaknesses?
However, some people may result to gazundering because the survey has shown major issues with the house, which is going to cost an arm and a leg to fix and so understandably they’re trying to get a discount on the original offer.
Why do people 'gazunder'?
There are many reasons why a buyer may result to gazundering and they’re not all as sinister as you might think…
As we mentioned earlier, a survey may show up some major property defects which will need a lot of money throwing at it. In this case, naturally a buyer will want a discount on their original offer, as they placed the offer assuming that the house was in tip-top shape.
A buyer may also gazunder due to someone else in the chain doing the same. Most house purchases take place in a property chain and so it’s likely your buyer is also a seller. It may be a case that gazundering runs in the chain, with your buyer’s buyer gazundering them meaning your buyer can no longer afford the original price they offered you and so have to reduce their offer below their original offer.
A slow-moving process can also result in gazundering, as the offer of the house repayments your buyer had may expire meaning they need to reapply for another, with no guarantees they will be able to get the same offer. This may mean they need to reduce their offer if they can’t get the same house repayments deal.
How do you deal with gazundering?
Moving house is a stressful experience, one that gazundering is only going to make worse. To help, we’ve got some top tips on how to deal with any gazundering issues you may face:
Negotiate - you may be in a situation where you need to go through with the sale but you’re not happy with the new offer on the table. Instead of just accepting it, you could negotiate with the buyer to get yourself a better ‘gazundered’ price
Ensure you have 'good people' on your side - it’s important you work with a good and experienced estate agent and solicitor, as they will know the best way to deal with gazundering. A good estate agent should be in full contact with the buyer and so will be able to update you on their thoughts and advise the buyer against gazundering, if they look like they may do so
Ensure you have a 'backup plan' - in case plan A fails, it’s always a good idea to have a plan B. For example, your estate agent could have a list of other potential buyers who they can call should you get gazundered
Make sure you have residential abortive transaction insurance - this will mean the legal and house repayments costs are covered, which may help slightly to reduce the stress of gazundering
Offer to pay - if there are any issues found on the survey, instead of the buyer reducing their offer, you could offer to pay to have the issues fixed if they keep to their original price
Maybe you haven’t been gazundered and you want to know what ‘red flags’ to look out for to help you avoid being gazundered. No problem! We have more top tips to help you avoid gazundering full stop:
Set your house at a realistic price - if the house is overpriced, you’re more at risk of gazundering, as the buyer is more likely to see other houses on the market at a better value than yours and therefore not be willing to pay the price they originally offered
Ensure survey completed ASAP - this means there’s less time for the buyer to have second thoughts and start looking at other properties, making them realise they may be paying too much, leading them to think about gazundering
Be open about any issues - if you hide any issues from the buyer when asked, should they come across these issues later on, it’s likely that they won’t be happy and therefore gazundering is more likely
Good estate agent -a good estate agent, like we said earlier, will be in constant contact with the buyer and will therefore be checking with them constantly and updating the seller on the process
Try looking for a ‘chain free’ buyer - a chain just increases the risk, and it may be a case that gazundering runs in the chain- your buyer gets gazundered therefore can’t pay the original price they offered and so they have to gazunder you
Make sure you’re on the same page - make sure the buyer has a house repayments offer in place, fill out all relevant paperwork as fast as you can, try set an exchange and completion date ASAP and then everything should move smoothly
Do the maths - even if you’ve accepted a good offer, it’s always a good idea to work out what would be the lowest you could accept. This way if gazundering happens but the price is still above your ‘lowest point’, you can still accept the offer and move forward
How is gazumping different to gazundering?
Gazumping is when the seller accepts an offer/bid from another buyer, after they have accepted an offer previously. The main difference between gazumping and gazundering is that gazumping affects the buyer whereas gazundering affects the seller.
The difference from a seller’s point of view is with gazumping they can choose whether or not they accept another offer, whereas with gazundering they have no say on the offer and their only real choice is whether they should accept the same buyer’s lower offer or if they should say no and start process again.
What can I do if it all goes wrong?
As we mentioned earlier, it’s likely we’re going to see a rise in gazundering due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because in 2021, house prices are expected to fall by up to 5% (The Guardian) and so if a house sale takes a while to go through, the buyer is likely going to drop their offer as they see houses becoming worth less and less.
There is also the, now extended, but still upcoming deadline of the end of the stamp duty holiday on 30th June 2021. Any buyer who is unable to complete before this deadline will start to think about doing some gazundering. Why is this, I hear you ask?
Well, when offering on a house, buyers will have worked out what they can afford, considering they don’t have to pay stamp duty or have less stamp duty to pay. If they now miss out on the deadline, they will have more to pay out than they originally expected and may not be able to afford what they originally offered, leading them towards gazundering.
If you’ve been gazundered and are in a chain so feel pressured to accept the new lower offer, despite it being below what you want to accept, you’ll be glad to know there is another option…
We’re a national property buyer who will take your house off your hands for CASH in as little as 7 days. Our offer isn’t subject to a survey, so there’s no gazundering worries here!
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If you’re struggling with gazundering and this sounds like something you need, give us a call or fill in our online form today and let us take the stress out of selling your house.