As a seller, it’s stressful to be in a situation where your buyer guzunders you at the last minute. That’s when a buyer drops their offer for the purchase price of your property, just before you exchange contracts. 

It’s not the same as ‘guzumping’, which is when the seller accepts a higher offer, late in the day, from a new buyer.  

In legal terms, the offer for the price of your home isn’t legally binding until the parties have exchanged contracts. That’s what makes it possible to guzunder someone in the first place. But ethically, it’s an under-hand tactic, unless the buyer has found good reason for a reduction in price, such as a defect in the property that was discovered in the survey. 

Practically, you have three options as the seller. You can: 

  • Accept the new offer and agree to the reduced price 
  • Negotiate with the buyer 
  • Reject the offer 

Let’s look at those three options in a little more detail. 

Accept the new offer and agree to the reduced price 

This is the best option if speed is important to you. If you need to sell your house quickly, then the least time-consuming option is to simply accept the reduced offer. 

Of course, that has obvious financial implications for you. It may be the case that you can’t afford your next home if you don’t achieve the original asking price. If the sums don’t add up with the new offer, then you can either negotiate with the buyer, or reject the offer outright. 

Negotiate with the buyer 

You don’t have to accept the reduced offer. If the original price for the property was £400,000, and the buyer has reduced their offer to £380,000, then you might agree a half-way house of £390,000. 

It’s worth digging into the buyer’s reasons for the reduced offer. Perhaps the survey found water ingress in one of the rooms, which can be fixed by re-doing the pointing. You could arrange for quotes for the work to be done and reduce the purchase price by that amount only.  

Another reason for requesting a reduced price may be that the market has changed significantly since the original offer. The buyer’s house may have reduced in value, and as a result they’ve been guzundered themselves. Stay abreast of the market conditions and if you agree that the value has changed, you can offer a slightly reduced price.  

By staying informed and getting external advice, you can make a logical, evidence-based reduction that remains reasonable for both sides, rather than agreeing to an arbitrary reduction in price. 

Reject the offer 

Option 3 is to play hard ball. The risk with rejecting the offer is that you may end up losing your buyer. With that comes the extra time and cost of finding a new buyer and beginning the process all over again. 

But don’t forget, that cuts both ways. The buyer will also have to begin their property search all over again and incur additional time and cost in doing so. 

So, you could decide to hold your nerve, and simply reject the new offer. Essentially, you’re saying “it’s the original price or nothing. Walk away if you don’t like it.”  

Whether or not this tactic is successful depends on the circumstances of your buyer. If they are a young couple looking for their first home and chancing their luck by guzundering, they might back down and continue with the original price. 

On the other hand, if your buyer is a property developer looking for their next investment, they might have more strategic aims for guzundering. They may be more willing to walk away. 

How to decide what to do 

If you’ve been guzundered, the best place to start is to have a chat with your conveyancer. We see these situations frequently and we have an informed inkling for what the buyer is trying to achieve. We can help you decide if you think the buyer is trying it on, or if there a genuine reason to reduce the price. 

Remember that your solicitor is there to carry out your instructions. We can advise you, but we won’t make decisions on your behalf. You’ll also want to weigh up whether the new price is actually affordable for you, and whether you can incur the additional time spent in negotiating with the buyer or trying to find a new buyer. 

Whatever you decide, we understand that this can be a stressful situation for you. We’ll help you weigh up your options with clarity and empathy and move forward with a decision that you feel comfortable with. If you’d like a confidential chat, please get in touch. 

How to prevent guzundering 

There are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of preventing guzundering. 

The first is getting a reliable valuation at the outset. Be honest about any defects that you know about in the property, and get a robust valuation to set a reasonable price to begin with. 

The other thing that’s within your control is treating your buyer with respect throughout the process. While you may not have direct communication with the buyer (it’s usually done through your solicitors), you can keep your buyer happy with prompt communication, and helpful responses. Building this kind of rapport makes it less likely that your buyer will mar your relationship with an attempt to guzunder you. 

If possible, you can choose a buyer without a chain. This means that they are less vulnerable to being guzundered themselves and passing on the consequences to you.