Could Gazumping Become Illegal?
The Government is considering how to crack down on people that pull out of property deals at the last minute. This would apply to both buyers and sellers.
 
Property purchases would become legally binding much earlier in the process – maybe as early as when an offer is accepted. Backing out of the agreement after this point would incur the responsibility of paying the other party’s costs.
 
It is hoped that the changes – which are still being defined – would help the buying and selling of properties to become fairer and quicker.
 
This system would be in line with the Scottish rules, whereby deals are binding once communication takes place that confirms acceptance of an offer. Gazumping is banned. However England should not expect the Scottish system to migrate south.
 
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, told BBC Radio 5 Live: ““The Scottish system is sometimes referred to as the ideal system, but if you speak to people in Scotland they may disagree. The onus is on the purchaser who has to have carried out all the checks before making an offer on the off-chance that it would get accepted.
 
“We perhaps need a hybrid system. In France you have a ten-day cooling-off period after an offer is accepted.”
 
Jason Dyer of JTM Homes agrees that a review of the system is needed. He says: “We always move the process forward as quickly as we can, keeping our buyers and sellers fully informed. Some aspects are out of our control – such as how quickly mortgage lenders, solicitors and councils communicate.
 
“We have a good relationship with our local solicitors, so we work together to keep property sales moving smoothly and efficiently.”
 
Last March, the Government announced: “We will publish a call for evidence on how to make the process better value for money and more consumer friendly.”

This process has started and we’ll keep you informed of its outcome… watch this space!