Gazanging - What is it, and what is the solution?

'Gazanging' is the new word coined by online conveyancers to describe the latest problem facing home buyers


6 things you can do to

reduce Gazanging - click here


Having had to contend with ‘gazumping’ and ‘gazundering’ in recent years, Gazanging is the next obstacle facing beleaguered home buyers across the UK.

What is 'Gazanging'?

According to the legal services company that dreamt up the word, 'Gazanging' describes when a homeowner agrees to a sale, and then pulls out  at the last minute, leaving the buyer both disappointed, and out of pocket (having paid for surveys, Conveyancing Solicitors, search fees etc. )

Fridaysmove uses the phrase ‘Hokey Cokey Seller' (in out in out . . . . ) to describe opportunistic sellers who, in a bid to cash in on rising markets, tried their luck by attempting to sell for an inflated asking price.

Sellers would even accept an offer and purposefully string out the process in the hope of finding a gazumper to make a better offer.  If the seller failed to achieve the inflated price they would simply pull out, possibly even returning to the market a few weeks later for another go!

Gazanging - Is it actually a thing?

Sellers' fickleness has been a staple of the volatile English property market for many years, but whether the reasons for such behaviour are clear enough that this particular phenomenon deserves its own word is another question.

Whether or not 'Gazanging' is now more common is also open to debate, but at least we now have a word to debate about.

According to Phil Spencer, Conveyancing spokesperson for In-Deed,  more than 54, 000 homebuyers were victims of an abortive transaction in the first half of 2011 due to Gazanging. As such, this represents an estimated 20% increase on the same period in 2010.

Mathematically, this suggests that Gazanging occurred to roughly 16% of buyers in the first half of 2010. So has some sort of threshold been crossed between 16 and 20% that necessitates the new term Gazanging?

Well, perhaps - in fact, if the phenomenon of Gazanging was indeed happening to 16% of homebuyers in 2010, then it is a wonder that we have got by for so long without a word for it.

The press are notorious for over-simplification and myopic interpretation of statistics, and this one is gagging to be treated in such a scaremongering fashion  (it's about property after all).  A new word, a new world, Gazanging is a gift to empty column inches.

What is the source of this new Gazanging statistic?

One of the problems facing anyone attempting to demonstrate trends in the property market is the difficulty in actually finding accurate statistics. The two most robust figures usually cited or relied upon are:

a) the numbers of mortgage applications, and

b) property transfers registered

The problem with using the figures for mortgage applications is that they obviously don't take into account cash buyers, who form a surprisingly large percentage of buyers in these difficult economic times. Furthermore, mortgage applications are a ‘leading indicator’ as they are made months before legal completion of sales take place.

The second indicator - Registrations at the Land Registry - are recorded and published months after completion. As a result, these two key indicators are months apart and allow journalists, PR companies, or indeed any interested party, the licence to tell the story any way they wish.

This goes some way towards explaining why it is common to read conflicting stories about the property market rising and falling in the same edition of a single newspaper.

So how were the Gazanging statistics compiled?

It would be impossible to ask every seller that decided to pull the plug on their sale their reasons for doing so.

Conveyancing Solicitors don't tend to record this information internally (if they even ask sellers for their reasons) and even if they did, canvassing this data from the 10, 000 or so conveyancing providers in England and Wales would be a massive task.

Instead the Gazanging statistic was compiled following a survey of 1, 001 adults (presumably adults who qualified by having bought or attempted to buy a property) during the first half of 2011.  So we must assume that the information must have been supplied by estate agents as they are best placed to provide such a list of adults.

The findings of the survey were then presumably extrapolated across the total number of buyers in the country in the same period.  This statistical approach (used to compile most statistics from TV viewing figures to cat food preferences) can be spurious, hence the usual caveat in the small print.  

Let's assume that a nationally reflective sample group was selected (one could not hope to extrapolate the peculiarities of London to the whole country for example), it would be necessary to have sampled a similarly representative group in the same period in 2010 for comparison purposes.  

However it is not clear whether this actually happened and as the company which commissioned the survey only sprang into existence in May of 2011, any such survey must have been conducted by another party.  So how was a comparison between 2010 and 2011 actually made?  This remains unclear.

Nevertheless, seller fickleness is as much a plague of the UK property market as buyer fickleness and tackling the ever maddening UK property market certainly needs to be done from both ends of the equation.  So what, if anything, can buyers do to protect themselves against Gazanging?

Gazanging - What can you do as a buyer to reduce the risk?

Phil Spencer advises buyers to insist that the property is taken off the market when the seller accepts the offer.  This is sage wisdom for certain and any buyer encountering a seller refusing to do so should turn on their heels and run away.

But will this tack actually reduce the risk of the seller pulling out? Well, not really, because sellers can still change their minds at any time until contracts are exchanged.

That said, Phil Spencer also advises that the buyer ‘seek out the most efficient legal services’ and in this case we wholeheartedly agree.  

It seems obvious but the bottom line is, the faster your Conveyancing Solicitor moves, the less time there is for a change of heart by the seller.  Of course this won't address the problem of sellers who say they cannot find a property to buy. (28% of those that elect not to move. )

However minimising the time taken for the conveyancing to be completed could reduce the risk from sellers pulling out because of frustration with the length of time the whole process actually takes (reported as 12%) and general jitteriness about property prices (also 12%).

And if you're in a chain then it's not just your seller you are exposed to, it's all the other sellers in the chain. It only takes one to have a change of mind and the whole chain collapses.

The bottom line is that the risk of Gazanging, Gazumping, Gazundering or any other change in the hearts or circumstances of any buyer, seller or lender in the chain is increased by slow or reactive conveyancing.  

So we agree with Phil Spencer's Conveyancing Solicitor advice - do yourself a favour, choose a fast and proactive conveyancer and avoid Gazanging.