Monday 19 September 2011

'Gazanging’ rises as home sellers get last-minute cold feet


54,000 buyers were “gazanged” in the first six months of this year – with buyers now more likely to be gazanged, where they are left hanging, than gazumped, where a rival buyer’s higher offer is accepted, or to gazunder, where they lower their offer having already had it accepted. A survey suggests one in four sellers changed their mind because they could not find a suitable property to move to, while others got cold feet because of concerns about the state of the housing market. The number of people pulling out has risen by 20 per cent since last year. One in six said they pulled out because they were fed up with legal complications. It means thousands of buyers who have spent money on surveys and solicitors’ fees are left out of pocket. Phil Spencer, a broadcaster and property expert, said: “Gazanging is something that’s on the up. The seller accepts an offer, but then decides to pull out and stay put, leaving a very unhappy buyer and a broken property chain. In such a volatile market, it’s not that surprising that many more sellers are changing their minds at the last minute, especially when there are so few suitable homes available. “There are lots of reasons why gazanging has started to happen. One of the biggest frustrations is the drawn out conveyancing process and in particular the bad service often experienced. Ask the vast majority of buyers what it was like and they will tell you conveyancing took longer than expected, cost more than they planned and that they felt confused. “There are far fewer houses on the market and this means that people are finding it more difficult to find their dream home, so much so that some sellers eventually decide to stay put.” More than a quarter of sellers who opted to stay put said they could not find a suitable property to buy. The overall number of transactions declined by a quarter in the past 12 months. Figures from the Land Registry and Council of Mortgage Lenders show sales fell from 62,705 in June 2010 to 46,700 in June this year. Spencer added: “Limited access to credit means that many more people struggle to secure a mortgage, leaving them high and dry when it comes to buying their next home. And uncertainty about what is happening with house prices can also make sellers reassess their plans.”