We’re all familiar with 'gazumping' – most us have been 'gazumped' or indeed been the perpetrators of this practice, for it is by no means an uncommon one.
In fact, whilst it was not born out of the recent economic recovery, it is most definitely a feature of it and over the last few years, as the UK property market has gradually picked itself up and dusted itself off, gazumping seems to have returned to the fore.
While certainly not a courteous practice – it is in fact uncharacteristically rude – gazumping is, as the above would suggest, indicative of something rather more positive, namely what we would call a red hot property market.
The very fact that properties are so high in demand that last minute bidders are regularly able to offer so far above the original asking price that even the agreed buyer is knocked clear out of the running, ironically suggests that things are looking good.
Now, London has traditionally been a gazumping hotspot and, until recently, nearby Brighton held the title of 'gazumping capital' of the UK. What is interesting is that a report from eMoov has shown us that the trend has, in recent times, moved a little further afield – and areas such as Sheffield, Newcastle and Plymouth have now become the country’s gazumping danger zones.
To demonstrate this more clearly, while in 2015 17% of homebuyers in London have been gazumped (down from 46% last year), in Sheffield 29% of home-buyers now stand at risk of this fate (up 25% from last year).
But what exactly does this mean and what does it tell us about the state of the UK property market?
Over the last few months, we have undoubtedly seen a slowdown in activity and there is a feeling that the adrenaline pumped days – characteristic of 2014, for example – are slowly but surely being left behind us.
However, based on the assumption that where there is gazumping there is high demand, the shift reported recently is encouraging. Why? Because it would indicate that the property market is still very much alive and kicking – and, here’s the important part, this time it’s not just about London.
The very fact that buyers are competing so ferociously to purchase homes up North and in the South West means firstly that there is cash to be spent and, secondly, that there is a certain degree of confidence that it will be well invested in these areas.
The other reason it is encouraging is that this high demand should provoke a domino effect, kick-starting local economies in construction, for example – and this is certainly no bad thing.
While disgruntled gazumpees are taking the hit on this one, looking on the bright side, gazumping is not all bad news.
*Eddie Goldsmith is Chairman of the Conveyancing Association and Senior Partner at Goldsmith Williams