Government could ban gazumping in market shake-up

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 22nd October 2017, 9:59 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd October 2017, 11:04 am

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has called on the property industry to provide evidence on how buyers and sellers can save time during the property purchase process, with any streamlining of the process through technology also to be considered.

One area of focus to make selling and buying cheaper, faster, and less stressful is by tackling the practice of gazumping.

Property expert and eMoov founder and CEO, Russell Quirk, has contributed to the study, providing his thoughts on gazumping and how it can be tackled head on to improve the property sector.

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Founder and CEO of, Russell Quirk, commented: “Gazumping really is the scourge of the property market and a practice that is facilitated through a draconian, archaic conveyancing system, the likes of which is shared only with Papa New Guinea, which leaves large numbers of buyers extremely disappointed and out of pocket. During the most stressful part of the property purchase, it further exacerbates the emotional turmoil a buyer can find themselves in and can crush their hopes and dreams of securing that perfect property.

The law needs to change to ensure there is a contractual obligation and to protect home buyers much earlier on in the process. One common misconception is that gazumping is the work of the agent in order to secure more commission on a property. However, this practice is often orchestrated by the seller and without the support or encouragement of the agent, although they take the blame.

These property market ‘fall-throughs’ cost £1bn per annum in wasted legal and survey costs, money that could be better spent elsewhere in tackling the housing crisis.”

What needs to be done:

- We need to encourage eConveyancing and to ensure that all documentation is in one place and digitally accessible quickly and at the same time across multiple parties

- We must ensure that surveyors, local authorities and lenders are legally compelled to work faster and for the buyer not against them

- Allow electronic signatures to be used within the process to speed the back and forth

- Introduce title insurance as they do in the USA as a 'catch all'

- Force the conveyancing process to deal with the multiple work streams in parallel rather than consecutively.

- Introduce earlier contractual obligation on the part of the seller and the buyer (like Scotland and USA)

The Government also published a survey of 2,000 people which showed 69% of sellers and 62% of buyers report stress and worry as a result of delays.

Nearly half (46%) of sellers had concerns about buyers changing their minds after making an offer and almost a quarter (24%) would use a different estate agent if they had to go through the process again.

Almost a third (32%) of sellers and 28% of buyers were dissatisfied with the other party's solicitor, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

The call for evidence will run for eight weeks from Sunday.

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, commented: "We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering

that. Buying a home is one of life's largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That's why we're determined to take action to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful.

This can help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters - finding their dream home. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue."