*Additional note – make sure that you read through to the end. We had an update today*
Until it happened to me last week, I hadn’t even realised that there was a term for it.
Gazundering – lower the amount of an offer that one has made to (the seller of a property), typically just before the exchange of contracts.
This happened to us two weeks before we were due to move. In Jersey you exchange and complete on the same day. Our buyer exploited this antiquated system. It wasn’t illegal but it was immoral. I know who he is. I know that he works just around the corner from where we live. I know an awful lot about this man and everything I find out confirms my first suspicions, he is greedy.
Putting Our House On The Market
We put our much loved house on the market because we had decided that it was time to move. We spent ages making her gleam, helping her to look her best. We then opened our doors and invited everyone in. Feet of strangers trampled through our house, unfamiliar eyes looked over our family photos hanging on the wall and unknown fingers opened the door to our children’s bedroom.
We had several people who were interested but he was the most persistent. We were naturally suspicious of him. He insisted on visiting three times before he put in his first derisory offer that was almost £100,000 under the asking price. It had come as we sat down for a family dinner. We nearly choked on our roast dinner as the offer pinged on my husband’s phone. No, we replied. We were insulted. Go and buy a flat instead, we thought. Then over the next week he increased his offer by a little and again we said no. We weren’t being stubborn. We knew what our house was worth and we couldn’t afford to sell it for what he was demanding.
Then came the excuses for why he wouldn’t go near the asking price. Concerns that didn’t make sense, things that we couldn’t do anything about. Well, don’t buy it then, we thought. We aren’t bothered. This was a man who had come round at various times of the day. The last time he had insisted we vacate the house at 7pm, the children’s bedtime. He didn’t care. It was night time but apparently he had come to look at how much sun the house got. It was dark outside. Either he was insane or he was playing games with us. Now I look back I wonder if this was part of the plan. He was grooming us ready for when he would gazunder. He was testing us, seeing how far he could push us. It was all a power game to him. He didn’t care about the fact he was messing with our life.
Then he went quiet and we all silently breathed a sigh of relief. He was out of our lives and we could focus on finding a new buyer. Until suddenly a couple of weeks later he popped up again. Demanding to come round for a 4th viewing. By now I’d had enough and I said no. Enough was enough. I remember shouting at Mr C that I wasn’t letting him anywhere near my house, he could do one. However, we came to a compromise and agreed that he could put in his best and final offer in and only if we thought it was suitable would we let him round again. He didn’t like that and again he vanished. Then suddenly he made a reappearance with another offer. It wasn’t as insulting as the other offers, but it was still £10,000 under what we had thought we would accept as our lowest offer. However, he had worn us down, he had probably planned this because we were exhausted from it all. We accepted as we knew that there was a house we could just about scrape enough money to buy and do up.
Jumping To His Gazundering Tune
He set a really tight deadline. He wanted it to be all done and dusted in a month. We frantically set about finding removals and instructing the solicitors. Then the house we were buying fell through and we were unsure what to do. Do we ask our buyer for longer? Due to his previous behaviour we didn’t want to risk upsetting him and we decided to press ahead and find a rental instead. Then we had another call from the estate agent to say that our buyer would be renting our house out. That in itself was like a dagger through the heart. In my head I had tried to convince myself that perhaps he was a nervous buyer but now I realised that he was an investor and that all along he had been playing games. He could afford to play games because there was no emotional attachment for him. He didn’t care about our lives and our feelings, it was business. He wanted to know if he could use our photos from the estate agent’s website to advertise our home for rent at his work. My gut reaction was no, that’s not on, but again we ignored our gut instinct and reluctantly agreed.
Then came the next demand. He wanted to come round for a fourth viewing to measure up. I said no because we were in the middle of packing up. We only had two weeks before we moved. We sent him the floor plans instead. That wasn’t good enough because suddenly he had a burning desire to check the appliances. Apparently his solicitor had told him to do it. We suspected he was lying. I didn’t want to let him round. The estate agent insisted we didn’t need to worry. He wanted to come at 2pm. I said no as I had a conference call and it wasn’t convenient. In the end we agreed he could come round at 5:30pm. It was the Christmas light switch on and I knew we would be out of the house. But 2pm rolled around and I saw our buyer go past. I wondered what he was doing. Then our doorbell rang. It was a woman who was supposed to be meeting our buyer as he was going to show her round the house. She called him Mr…. and said that they had only communicated via email. Clearly he had lied when he had said he would only advertise at his work. I felt unnerved. We now had a random person turning up to look around our house. I had a bad feeling about it. I tried to quell the thought that he was up to something. I told myself off for thinking bad of him.
So after the conference call I headed out with Mr C and the children and we went to look around a rental. It was perfect. A cottage in the country with sea views. We were excited about moving into it. We finally felt excited for the future and that was when our buyer swooped. That evening as we vacated our house for him, as we watched the Christmas lights switched on, as we cheered for Oldest who had been selected to sit in the sleigh with Father Christmas, everything felt magical. I wonder if he felt any Christmas cheer as he looked around our house. Did he ignore our family photos on the wall? Did he look away from our smiling faces? Was there any guilt on his part as he plotted his next move? Were we too compliant, had we been too nice? Did he care that we had put our whole life on hold for him? It wouldn’t have occurred to him that I hadn’t been able to buy Youngest’s birthday presents yet as we didn’t know where we would be. He wouldn’t know I have spent the past month banning the use of felt tips for fear that the children would draw on something. He doesn’t know what an impact his negative presence has had on our lives in such a short space of time.
I don’t like using the word hate. Hate is a strong word but I hate him for what he has done to our family. The next day the call we had been expecting came. He said he was paying too much. He isn’t. Our house price is under the average house price for a three bed house in Jersey. This house is immaculate. We have taken care of it. We know what a good deal he was getting because we had been looking at houses that were more expensive and nowhere near as nice or big as ours.
The Worst Week
This was his game all along. Dangle the carrot and then snatch it away. Get us into a position where he thought he could bully us into accepting his lower offer. We refused. He chose the wrong week to mess with us. Quite possibly one of the worst weeks of our life. He doesn’t know about our family worries and our bereavement. In the bigger picture, with everything else we have going on, he is nothing. Instead we set about cancelling everything; the removals, the solicitors etc. We have lost money because of him. However, this will mean nothing to him. He is rich and he doesn’t have a family. He doesn’t need to worry about finding the money. It won’t have occurred to him that we don’t have savings in the bank.
Why The Law Needs To Change
The law needs to change to stop greedy people like him exploiting the system. Honest and hardworking people are losing out and people like him are getting richer. It might not be illegal but it is unethical and immoral. It should be made illegal. We were lucky that we were in agreement that we should walk away. We were lucky that our situation wasn’t any worse. But I am still angry and it has had an impact on us as a family. I didn’t want to have to tell my girls that we weren’t moving; the house where they had excitedly chosen their bedrooms wouldn’t be their new home. I needn’t have worried because they were just as angry. Instead they have come up with a very apt nickname that rhymes with his name and it describes our buyer perfectly.
I have cried angry and frustrated tears over our buyer. I am cross at his actions and I want to teach him a lesson. Most of all I don’t want him to do this to someone else as they might not be as lucky. I do not want him to take advantage of someone who is more vulnerable than us. The law needs to change. The law needs to stop greedy people like our buyer.
Update – since writing this post our house went back on the market. 24 hours later it went back under offer with someone else. Our gazundering friend got back in touch today. He wanted to put his offer back in. It was quite satisfying telling him that we were already under offer. KARMA. 😉