Gazundering an option for most Brits, but with a twinge of conscience

06 May 2008 / by Daniela Gieseler
Although 58 per cent of Britons think gazundering is unethical and 45 per cent think it should be made illegal, 94 per cent would still force the price of a property down at the last minute.

According to research by personal finance site Fool.co.uk, one in six people have experienced gazundering – the practice of a buyer waiting until the last minute of a sale before lowering the offering price for the property, therefore threatening the chain of sales.

In the current credit climate where it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a competitive mortgage deal, and with more and more buyers trying to get a foot on the property ladder and make the most of their money in tighter credit conditions, the practice is bound to rise says Fool.co.uk.

A quarter of all homeowners think it is so malicious that they would turn down a gazundering buyer whatever price he proposed, and even refuse to buy at the original offer.

However, 45 per cent of Brits would still go through with the sale with a buyer who gazundered them.

Reasons why people might consider gazundering differ; the vast majority of buyers (94 per cent) said they had no qualms of dropping their offers in case a survey of the property revealed that costly repairs were necessary which they were previously unaware of.

Twenty nine per cent think gazundering is acceptable if the price of a property fell between the offer and the exchange. A third would pass on the gazundering to the people they are buying from if their buyer gazundered them, whereas another third would stick to their principles and not pass it up the chain.

Donna Werbner, property expert at Fool.co.uk, explains why gazundering is a grey area: "Falling house prices create a terrible moral dilemma for buyers. If they don't gazunder, they could potentially find their property has fallen in value before they have even bought it."

"People may think the practice of gazundering is unethical or even immoral," she says, "but homeowners have benefited from astronomical increases in house prices over the past decade, and are trying to sell at the peak of the market."

She points to the flip side of the coin: "If the seller's property is no longer worth the amount that has been offered, then maybe holding the other party to the original offer is not all that honourable or admirable either. It all boils down to what you value more highly: your morals, or more cash in your pocket."

©Fair Investment Company Ltd