According to various sources this week, the latest flagitious activity to afflict the housing market is that of ‘ghost gazumping’. This doesn’t mean Banquo’s ghost showing you around a 3-bedroomed semi in Croesyceiliog, but-in a phrase first coined by the Financial Times- when the seller asks the buyer for more money just days before exchange. As expected, such nefarious behaviour is making an appearance in the London postcodes that have constantly been responsible for the hysterical headlines of recent weeks. It is, to put it mildly, cheeky; but due to the desperation for houses in certain areas, vendors do it quite simply because they can and agents are equally complicit. Think about the figures and put yourself in the shoes of the house owner; you are able to boost the amount for which you can sell your property for an extra £40,000 (having already agreed at a lower figure) and the purchasers still want to go ahead with the sale. Equally, the agent stands to increase their fee with no further legwork required. As the first black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm said, “When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses”. Quite. Very few of us have a freehold on the moral high ground. Admittedly the vendors demanding more may well find themselves on the receiving end of some equally unscrupulous behaviour when trying to complete on their new property. Sin an saol agat.
Such shameless and fraudulent behaviour is though not limited to within the M25. In the last year, Cheshire and Co (and we are not alone) have lost a couple of properties to certain corporate agents telling vendors that they have “20 people who will view the property on Saturday” and “we have people wanting to buy in this street, now, this minute, in fact five minutes ago, last week/year/millennium”. Of course, it is the vendor’s decision. When checking several months later (remember, what cannot speak, cannot lie), ascertaining that the property remains unsold and then asking the vendors how the plethora of viewings went, the response has been some variation of, “ummm, well, it never happened…. but the agents have told us to drop the price…” He-aart less behaviour indeed.