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A Cautionary Tale

Sometimes you can come across unsavoury practices associated with buying and selling property. One of the most well-known is the practice of gazumping. This has normally been seen as a problem for the buyer not the seller, with an unfortunate buyer having their offer trumped during the course of the purchase by someone in a seemingly better buying position or with more money to spend. Of course all is fair in love and war and many sellers would be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of getting more money for their property while losing little sleep about the plight of their buyer, often somebody they don’t know very well and feel they have little loyalty to. Who could blame them right? Especially if they first had to accept an offer lower than their original asking price, why wouldn’t they accept a subsequent higher offer?

Here’s why it should be a case of seller beware. If you were to ask any property professional I’m sure the following story would sound all too familiar to them. A sale has been agreed to a buyer who has shown commitment to the purchase by paying money for a mortgage valuation and survey. The chain is all tied up and the sale is at an advanced stage, when an offer comes in from someone purporting to be a cash buyer who just has to have this property as it’s perfect for them and just what they are looking for (even though the property was on the market for three months before the sale was agreed and they somehow missed it). The seller, as you would expect, has their head turned by the chance to pocket an extra £10,000 and lose the chain below by selling to a cash buyer who has promised to move heaven and earth (often offering to forego searches) to complete the sale as quickly as possible. They accept the offer leaving the agent to break the news to a desperately disappointed buyer.

So the sale process begins again fraught with all the possible pitfalls that had been successfully avoided by the initial buyer. The first thing to happen is that the new super buyer has a survey carried out on the property, this highlights a problem that was either missed on the first survey or didn’t alarm the first buyer. Buyer number two then uses this to renegotiate the price back to the original sale price or possibly even lower. As the sale progresses further it turns out that the buyer also has a property to sell and has now found a buyer of their own meaning they no longer want to part with the cash from their bank account instead preferring to synchronise the two sales. So now you’re possibly under offer at a lower price than you initially accepted and back to square one again with all the stresses and strains of selling a property to suffer further. Things could be worse however, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel and in another six weeks you should be able to exchange contracts and put all this behind you.

That is until you receive that dreaded call from your agent saying that your wonderful cash buyer has pulled out of purchasing your property because….they’ve found another property they prefer…..decided the survey has put them off buying your house after all….…..has changed their mind and now decided not to move……take your pick the list goes on.

Your agent tries to reassure you everything is will be okay, we’ll call buyer number one I’m sure they’ll be happy it’s fallen through and want to pick up where we left off. A rather sheepish estate agent has to make that awkward call we all dread and explain what has happened to the original buyer, who then with a smug feeling satisfyingly making up for them feeling hard done by and let down by your actions, explains that they have since purchased another property and moved in a month ago. As sorry as they are to hear about your plight they are blissfully happy in their new home (and now even more so although they’d never say that). This might sound like a tall tale but I assure it’s not and one I’ve seen happen repeatedly as I’m sure any agent you speak to will have as well. Whilst it can occasionally work in your favour, it really is a case of seller beware, the old adages ‘if it seems too good to be true it usually is’ and ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ both spring to mind. So if you are the recipient of such an offer please take a step back and question the ethics of someone who would do such a thing and consider that somebody who is capable of making such a rash decision to buy is equally as capable of changing their mind with the same haste.

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Holters Modern Estate and Letting Agents in Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Holters estate and letting agents specialise in selling and renting property across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Mid Wales. We also serve Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Birmingham, West Midlands, Gwent, Newport, Cardiff, Monmouthshire and South Wales.

Holters provides a modern twist on traditional estate and letting agency, our aim is to deliver a first-class personal service and a comprehensive high quality marketing package, while offering flexible payment options which provide excellent value for money.

When you think about it you have a combination of solicitor’s fees, survey costs, stamp duty and the dreaded estate agents bill on top of that. It makes moving home a very costly experience. Our vision was to create a modern estate agency which provides the highest possible levels of service whilst also saving you money and so Holters was formed.