Being ‘gazumped’ isn’t nice!  Not in the slightest.  I know because it happened to me.
We learnt the hard way, therefore would like to share our experience in the hope that it may save someone else’s tears of frustration in the future.
We were in the throes of purchasing offices for GEM and CT Business Solutions (my husband’s company) and we found ourselves, just a couple of weeks before completion being gazumped.
I had turned up at the property to do some measuring, only to be informed by the vendor …. “Didn’t you get the email from the estate agent? We’ve sold it to a cash buyer”.   They didn’t even have the courtesy to call before to advise someone else had approached them.  Nothing, Nada, Zilch.
This is illegal in Scotland! It should be everywhere.
For two months we had made plans, incurred costs, spoken to our staff about the move and planned our office space ~ planned our future!   It was heart-breaking.   As of 23rd March we are still working from our home hoping to secure somewhere in the next few weeks. It hasn’t broken us, but it did make us stumble. I’d be lying if I said anything else.
  • Immoral
  • Unethical 
  • How to protect yourself
  • Should it be illegal?
We did ask the vendor if he would like to repay our fees (as he did take a higher ‘cash’ offer than ours so was in pocket) to be told ~ “No it’s business and we’ve had the same done to us so we should bear our own costs”.    Obviously not a believer in ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – the golden rule that we all should live by.
Is it a case of buyer beware? Or should there be legal ramifications?  What do you think?
Although gazumping isn’t illegal, it is however immoral and unethical. Acting quickly – i.e. getting all your ducks in a row promptly isn’t always enough to lessen danger you are in of being gazumped. There are however options you can take to protect yourself, while the legal aspects of the purchase go through …
  • Speak to your Solicitor about an ‘option to purchase agreement’ with the vendor. Can be costly but is your purchase worth protecting?
  • Look into insurance. For around £100 you could obtain insurance to cover yourself for the purchase fees should you find yourself in the same position as ourselves.
  • You could ask the vendor to take the property off the market, but this isn’t to say they won’t still be approached, or talk to other people!
To all intents and purposes most commercial property purchases are a business deal. So you can try to maintain a good relationship with the vendor and, act quickly and trust that everything will go through smoothly. In essence we may have been a little naive!   As the saying goes “We live and learn”.
Gill Arnott