Plans to limit the scope for gazumping

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The Independent Online
CHRISTINE EDMANS, a housing worker has been gazumped three times.

She and her husband, Iain, were among the many people who welcomed moves by the Government yesterday to end gazumping and the historic rule, caveat emptor - let the buyer beware.

The couple from West Norwood, in south London, put in offers on three houses each time losing it to a higher bidder at the last minute.

Christine who was pregnant with their second child became depressed and angry, on one occasion confronting the vendor and begging him to accept their offer. The couple had found the house they wanted although they had to increase their price range and offered the asking price, pounds 135,000.

But they were told by an estate agent that a barrister had demanded a view and made a higher offer. The Edmans matched it, but the barrister offered pounds 15,000 more, which they could not match.

When she went to the seller's home in Colchester with her children to plead for the house, he said pounds 15,000 was too much to give up.

Eventually after two years in rented accommodation, and pounds 2,000 on wasted legal fees, they found a home in West Dulwich. Yesterday Mrs Edmans said: "People are greedy, it's human nature, but I think vendors should be bound to accept offers and should face financial penalties if they renege."

The new proposals will make house sellers responsible for surveys to speed up the process and give less scope for gazumping.

Estate agents are bringing out their own proposals next month to place more responsibility on the seller.

The Government is hoping to improve the process of house buying without legislation by asking estate agents to encourage sellers to produce "sellers' packs" giving more details of their homes.

Jim Atkins, vice president of the National Association of Estate Agents said: "I personally don't see that as workable.

"You would have a two tier system if somebody was selling their property privately. If it is so important for the Government to support it, it should be mandatory."

The Association denied that the new measures would add around pounds 1,000 to the price of each house.

The Association Housing minister, Hillary Armstrong, is due to publish the Green paper next month offering a range of measure to tackle gazumping.

A Government survey in Scotland, Wales and England has shown house sales take on average at least three months.