London property market sees the return of gazumping

The practice of gazumping, which most of us had hoped was a thing of the past, has returned to the London market with a vengeance recently, coming hot on the heels of a dramatic increase in the property market across the capital.

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Figures from the Land Registry showed that December 2019 saw house prices enjoy an upward swing of 2.3% in London, representing the fastest surge in five years.

New era of certainty

Analysts are almost universally attributing the cause of this growth to the decisive result in December’s General Election, which saw some certainty emerge from the years of Brexit negotiations and Parliamentary harrumphing since the Referendum in 2016.

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Agents are reporting a massive resurgence in the need for busy open house viewings, with multiple interested potential buyers visiting a property, followed by sealed bids and prospective buyers providing “best and final” offers.

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The return of the gazumpers

For the first time in around five years, estate agents are reporting that vendors are receiving higher bids following the acceptance of an offer. This is even happening when offers are accepted that are the full asking price. Houses and apartments in fashionable areas of London, such as Hyde Park and Marylebone, are going for up to 20% above the asking price following record levels of viewings, which have in turn led to improved hit rates for offers.

Even properties that have languished on the market for many months are enjoying some attention now, with a particular property in Queens Gardens that has been on the market since early 2018 about to close at its original asking price of just shy of £1 million. At its nadir, the apartment received an offer of £200,000.

Beating the gazumpers

In order to avoid being gazumped, Zoopla recommends that buyers are organised before making an offer. Ensure you have an agreement in principle in place for a mortgage as well as a proactive solicitor who is willing to chase down searches and documentation.

This will reduce the time from offer being placed to the exchange, limiting the chances of being gazumped.

Additionally, getting the vendor to agree to take the property off the market as a condition of accepting your offer can help greatly.