Stumbling around the room, the dim glow from a mobile phone barely illuminating his way, Chris Knott could hardly see his hand in front of his face let alone appreciate the finer points of the £250,000 flat.But with ten other prospective buyers queuing for the evening viewing, the estate agent was insistent that the 30-year-old project manager should not be put off by the fact that there was no electricity in the property.‘It was so dark I had no idea what colour the walls were or what the kitchen was like,’ said Mr Knott. ‘There could have been a big hole in the wall and I wouldn’t have been able to see.’ Despite this, as he went to leave, he overheard another house-hunter telling the agent he wanted to buy the property in East London.
‘It was incredible,’ said Mr Knott. ‘Even though he couldn’t see what he was buying, he said he was willing to offer the asking price there and then.’ In many ways it was a merciful release for Mr Knott. In the past few months, he and his wife Isabelle, 27, have twice made offers on properties — only to have the rug pulled out from under their feet.In the first instance they were ‘gazumped’ at the last minute.Having had an offer on a £235,000 flat formally accepted and having paid £500 for a valuation, they were rung up by their estate agent to be told the sale was off because someone else had trumped their offer by £10,000.On the second occasion a similar thing happened — although Mr Knott believes there wasn’t another buyer and that the vendor was, in fact, simply just trying to lever up the price he would pay.
The tactic has been nicknamed ‘ghost gazumping’ — and is one of the most unpleasant features to have emerged from the property boom currently sweeping parts of Britain. More...Qataris strike Olympic gold: Sheikhs who snapped up cheap flats in the Athletes Village set to rake in £1billion profitStampede to escape raw deals on pensions: After Chancellor's reforms, 250,000 'trapped' savers race to pull out of annuities as minister says let pensioners buy Lamborghinis if they wishOn the hunt for a home? The first-time buyer's guide to getting a mortgage and climbing onto the property ladderUnlike the gazumping of the Eighties, when rival buyers stepped in at the last minute with a higher offer, this trend involves sellers increasing the price themselves because they know their purchasers will be so desperate to close the sale that they will stump up the extra cash.