The Government is to clamp down on gazumping and other property-buying practices that upset both house buyers and sellers. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced an eight-week call for evidence, asking estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders - as well as ordinary home owners - to develop better ways for the housing market to operate.
More than a million homes are sold every year in England, but around a quarter of all sales fall through for a variety of reasons.
Gazumping is one of the biggest bugbears for those looking to buy a property. It's the practice that allows a seller to accept a bigger offer at an advanced stage of a sale, even at the very last minute, leaving the person who made the original offer out in the cold
Building trust and confidence
The consultation will also look at ways to build more trust and confidence into the buying and selling process, possibly introducing "lock-in agreement" schemes where an agreed sale becomes legally binding.
Sellers could be encouraged to become more "sale ready" and literate about what they need to do to be ready to sell their home. And while most properties are now marketed online, the conveyancing process remains frustratingly slow and still paper-led. Innovative digital solutions that include making more data available online will be examined.
Mr Javid said: "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 people save money and time so they can focus on what matters. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue."
No extra work for sellers or buyers
The announcement from the Department for Communities and Local Government makes it clear that this call for evidence is not about returning to sellers providing Home Information Packs, which were suspended in England in 2010, or about creating extra work for buyers and sellers. Instead it's simply about improving the home-buying experience for all parties.
If you want to find out more about gazumping, gazundering and gazanging and what they mean for both buyers and sellers, read our indepth guide. And to know when a sale is legally binding, check out our FAQs. If you're ready to get your home-buying or selling event underway, call Homeward Legal now on or start a no-obligation quote here.