Buying a house in London: gazumping has returned to property market for first time in five years

Gazumping has returned to the London property market for the first time in five years as panicked buyers stampede back in a desperate bid to snap up a bargain.

Agents say they are being inundated with requests to view the limited number of properties on their books, and homes that have languished with “For Sale” signs for years are now receiving competing offers.  

The sudden surge in buyers already appears to be feeding through to prices with the Land Registry this week reporting that the London market rose 2.3 per cent in December, its fastest pace in more than two years.

Even veterans of the capital’s often febrile property scene say they have been stunned by the speed of the flip from buyers’ to sellers’ market since December’s election ended the chaos over Brexit and removed the threat of a hard-Left Labour government.

For the first time since the market peaked in around 2014 agents are having to ask for “open house” viewing sessions, sealed bids, and “best and final” offers.

In extreme cases sellers who have accepted offers are receiving higher bids in the first sign of gazumping for at least half a decade. 

Dylan James, a director and head of Hyde Park sales at agents Chestertons, said: “Gazumping is starting again. We had a three-bedroom apartment on Hyde Park Square with an agreed offer at the full asking price of £2 million.

“On the day of the election result, a new buyer offered £100,000 over the asking price and exchanged contracts on Christmas Eve.”

The same agent began marketing an unmodernised, two-bedroom house in Marylebone for £1.25 million a week ago. After 65 viewings, 10 “best and final” offers were received and the home is likely to fetch about £1.6 million. 

Mr James said: “We’re doing sales right, left and centre. Even things that have been on the market a long time are suddenly getting a lot of interest.”

Queen’s Gardens: on the market since March 2018 with an asking price of £995,000 the apartment is now set to be sold at close to asking price

An  apartment in Queens Gardens had been on the market since March 2018 with an asking price of £995,000. The owner had received offers at £200,000 below asking price during the market’s post-Brexit vote “deep freeze” but is now about to sell at very close to the original asking price.

Mary Beeton, head of London residential sales at agents Hamptons International, said an unmodernised family house in North Dulwich had been viewed 68 times after being marketed at “offers over” £1 million. 

It received 20 offers and was sold for more than £1.1 million. In Islington a family house on Alwyne Road was listed at £4.35 million and has sold for close to £4.7 million, eight per cent over the asking price.

Rebecca May, sales branch director at KFH Earlsfield, said: “We were instructed to sell a stunning house in Earlsfield for well in excess of £1 million that was not marketed online at the sellers’ request.

“More than 20 viewings were booked within two hours of the sellers’ instruction — this led to multiple bids on the launch day. The successful buyers had to go over the asking price to secure their bid.”

Lucy Pendleton, property expert at agents James Pendleton, said: “We have even seen a sale agreed this week on a three-bed property in Battersea SW11 with four competing bids all over the asking price of £599,950.”

Stephen Ludlow, chairman of ludlowthompson, said viewings were up 28 per cent on the same period last year and the average price achieved had risen from about £450,000 to more than £500,000.

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