Society: Gazumping worst in south

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Home-buyers are five times more likely to be gazumped in London than in the north of England, a report said yesterday. But the survey, by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), emphasised that potential buyers should not be unduly worried - less than than 2.5 per cent of property transactions were affected by gazumping, it said.

The survey of 8,000 sales in England and Wales is thought to be the largest study of the problem ever undertaken. It found gazumping to be most commonly practised in London and the South-east, where 4.3 per cent and 3.9 per cent of transactions respectively were affected. In the North, gazumping hit less than than 1 per cent of transactions.

But RICS pointed out that gazumping was not the only problem contributing to property market misery. Gazundering, in which a would-be buyer waited almost until the last minute before threatening to drop out unless the agreed price of the property was dropped, was another major headache.

Speeding up the house sale process was the key to beating gazumping, RICS said.