Gazumping is alive and well in much of the country, despite the slowdown in the property market, according to new research by Phil Spencer’s consumer service MoveIQ.
An analysis of over a million property transactions undertaken by the site with PropTech firm Gazeal shows that the worst area for gazumping is Sheffield.
Some 35 per cent of would-be buyers in the South Yorkshire city are gazumped, more than double the 16 per cent average for England and Wales.
Even areas where prices are falling are now seeing high levels of gazumping, the research claims.
The second worst hotspot is Maidstone in Kent, where nearly 32 per cent of buyers were gazumped – despite the fact that average prices fell by one per cent in the year to January.
“For anyone who thought gazumping vanished with the runaway price rises of a few years ago, our findings will come as a reality check. Gazumping is alive and well, and still causing heartache for tens of thousands of buyers across England and Wales” claims Spencer.
“Britain’s fragmented property market is throwing up huge regional extremes. In hotspots where prices are still rising fast, sellers can be tempted to go back on their word to a buyer if they get a better offer elsewhere. Meanwhile, in slow markets, the lack of homes for sale can lead sellers to leave would-be buyers in the lurch if they get a last minute offer from someone else.
“But whatever the market conditions, the real culprit is the legal blind spot in the way homes are bought and sold in England and Wales. A legal system that lets sellers leave buyers high and dry weeks, or even months, after accepting their offer is clearly not fit for purpose.”
Last week Spencer come out in favour of legally binding reservation agreements and digital legal packs in a bid to reduce fall-throughs and gazumping.
At the time he said that whatever the market conditions, the real danger to many buyers and sellers in the current transaction system was the fact that buyers or sellers could abandon a sale a day before the exchange.