It’s the phone call that sellers dread – just days from exchanging contracts the buyer rings to ask for a price reduction or ‘they’ll walk’. As rife at the first-time buyer end of the market as it is higher up the food chain, gazundering puts the seller in the impossible position of having to ‘agree’ to the lower price or face putting their place back on the market and risk losing the dream house they were about to buy. Seasoned gazunderers work on the principle that most sellers will take the lower offer just to keep the show on the road. In the current soft market, buyers are more likely to chance their luck. So what steps can you take to avoid being held to ransom?
Pre-qualify your buyers – chain-free buyers with mortgage offers in place move quicker than those without – speed reduces the likelihood of anyone claiming that the value of your home has fallen since the original offer was made, so keep time frames for completion tight – 6-8 weeks is more than reasonable.
Launch a pre-emptive strike - issues often crop up during surveys, which can lead to a price adjustment. Nip this ‘spanner’ in the bud by assessing your home’s condition before you market it - you can then discuss any problems from a position of knowledge and insight and weed out bogus claims. If you do find defects, flag them up with the buyer. That way, it will be far harder for them to haggle down the price at the last minute.
Keep your distance - avoid direct re-negotiations with the buyer. If the reduced offer comes straight from the purchaser - go back to your agent and seek their advice – they’re much better equipped to handle the situation because they’re not personally or emotionally involved.
Have a back up plan - remember you’re not home and dry until contracts have been exchanged, so keep your property on the market until then. If problems do arise, you’ve still got other potential buyers in the frame.
Laura Henderson is a property columnist, author and investment expert. Her latest book Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom (£12.99, Book Guild) is out now.