Unfortunately for buyers, the power in the current UK property market still remains with sellers. Due to high demand, they have free reign to pull out of your agreement at the last minute if something better comes along, which can be very frustrating and often seems unfair. Here we outline a few areas that you might be feeling anxious about, and provide some advice on getting the best possible outcome.
Firstly, gazumping is a major issue in the UK and has been for some time, although the situation has improved a little on the whole. It basically refers to being outbid on a property by a rival buyer, even though you have already agreed and confirmed a deal with the seller. In England and Wales, this breach of an agreement does not actually constitute a violation of the law, although in Scotland that’s not the case and you can actually file a lawsuit against the seller.
Whilst this practice seems immoral and can be exhausting, bear in mind the following tips to help you avoid getting into the same situation:
- If you move fast, there’s less chance of being outbid, so get your mortgage arrangements done ASAP.
- Make sure your offer is actually fair to minimise the chance of the seller actively looking for better offers.
- Ensure the property is taken off the market as soon as possible once your sale has been agreed formally.
- Agents do not want this to happen, because it will negatively affect their reputation. You can work with them to try and make sure you don’t get gazumped.
Sellers may also change their mind about selling because they decide they want to keep the property for themselves. Sometimes if the market starts to pick up and there’s a good chance of the home’s value increasing within the coming months, sellers will decide to keep their investment and wait for the price to become inflated.
Upcoming changes in legislation could also influence a seller’s decision to put their sale on hold, if they stand to gain something financially from waiting. Another possibility is that the seller’s property chain collapses due to a problem further along the line, and unfortunately this tends to have a knock-on effect.
The bad news is that in any of these situations there is very little you can do. Once you have agreed a sale you are committed to buying it and you will probably incur some costs in the process of preparing to move, but if the seller does abandon the transaction you are not offered any legal protection. That is unless you have evidence that the reason for the cancelled sale was actually based on some form of discrimination against you, and in this situation you should consult with professionals for legal advice.