Gazundering

Q. I’m selling my house and had accepted an offer from a local buyer, but just a few days before we were due to complete the buyer has said she’s no longer willing to pay the amount agreed and made another offer £5,000 lower.  Can she do this?  

A. If a buyer reduces their offer before contracts are exchanged this is known as “gazundering” and there is nothing illegal about this. You, as the seller, can do nothing to get a higher price if you still want to go ahead with the sale to that buyer.

Once contracts for the sale have been exchanged, however, both the buyer and the seller are legally committed to the sale at the agreed price and the buyer cannot pull out without forfeiting their deposit, which is usually 10% of the sale price.

It is possible to prevent gazundering with a ‘pre-contract deposit agreement’. This means that both the buyer and seller pay a deposit that they will lose if they pull out without a good reason. You should use a solicitor to draw up agreements like these.

Sarah Perkins, Chartered Legal Executive