Have you ever bought a home, but then found out it wasn’t actually yours? You may have signed the contract and been told the vendor was happy with your offer. You could have even started planning your house warming party, only to be gazumped a day or two later.
BY LAUREN CROSS
Unfortunately, gazumping happens all the time and while it’s still legal in most states, including New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, some people might consider it immoral.
Like most homebuyers, I’ve been gazumped myself and know all about the pain and frustration. It was mid-last year when my fiancé and I found a house we really liked in the Brisbane suburb of Graceville. First we made a written offer and a few days later the agent came around to our house. We spent about half an hour signing contracts, talking through contracts (we’d already done a building and pest report so it was unconditional) and even talked about our new life in Graceville.
That night the agent told us the vendor was very happy with our offer, but never actually used the word ‘accepted’.
“I can really see you guys living there,” he smiled.
“You’ll love living so close to the parks and getting that morning sun.”
We assumed it was pretty much a done deal, given what he told us. The next day, he even called me during work and asked to meet. Again we discussed our “very pleasing offer” but strangely enough the agent neither confirmed nor denied anything (I was expected him to confirm the sale at this meeting). At the time, I didn’t think much of it but looking back it was obvious he was playing us. He was basically making sure we were still keen and trying to find out if we would be willing to go higher, even though our original offer was apparently a done deal.
Then Saturday came and went and I didn’t hear a thing, even though the agent said he’d get back to me within 24 hours. On the Sunday I started to get ‘that sinking feeling’ something was wrong. I called the agent and it was then he told me someone had made a higher offer overnight and the contract had been signed by both parties. Inside I wanted to tell the agent off, to scream down the phone and beg for another chance to put in a higher offer.
Instead I gave the lame reply: “okay, thanks for letting me know”.
We’d been gazumped and there was nothing I could do. After all, it was my fault – if we really wanted the property we should have simply put in a higher offer. But what really gets me is why the agent wasted so much time with us. Why come over to our house and make us sign papers, then meet us the next day? Why didn’t he just stick with the written offer that was sent in an email and shop that around? Spending time signing contracts and catching up was nothing but a waste of time and while I’m now glad we missed out on that property, at the time it was like being on the New South Wales Origin team… just when you feel like you’re finally about to get a win, once again your hopes and dreams are smashed.
I know that most agents are great and it’s their job to get the highest possible offer for the vendor, but why can’t they just take a written offer and use that to go shopping with, rather than suck you in and take you through an emotional mine field?
Have you ever missed out on a property you had your heart set on? Share your story here.
Lauren Cross is a journalist/subeditor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au