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gazanging

noun [uncountable]

the activity of suddenly backing out of an agreement to sell your home, even though all arrangements with the buyer have been made

gazang

verb [transitive]

gazanger

noun [countable]

'Gazanging rises as home sellers get last-minute cold feet …'

The Guardian 19th September 2011

'Research from the property legal website In-Deed … suggests that 54,000 would-be homebuyers were gazanged in the first six months of 2011 alone, a 20% rise on the same period last year. The firm's survey showed that a quarter of gazangers changed their mind because they could not find a property themselves …'

Totally Money 19th September 2011

Imagine that you were just about to embark on a particular purchase because you'd found something that met your requirements at a price you were prepared to pay. Then imagine that the seller suddenly announced that the item was not for sale anymore, because they had decided they'd like to keep it for the time being. Now if that purchase were a pair of trousers for instance, or maybe an armchair, or even a fridge freezer, the seller's withdrawal from the deal might be a bit inconvenient, but would not be too much to worry about in the grand scheme of things. If that purchase were a house however, then the collapse of the deal would be significantly more awkward than a minor annoyance. Unfortunately for many home buyers in the UK, this exact scenario is happening all the more frequently – a phenomenon now dubbed gazanging.

a shortage of suitable homes, coupled with an uncertain property market, is … thought to be one of the biggest drivers of gazanging

Research recently undertaken by web-based conveyancing company In-Deed, revealed that in the first six months of 2011, more than 50,000 home buyers in the UK were gazanged, their intended house purchases falling through because sellers changed their minds and opted to stay put. According to the research, sellers who get cold feet, correspondingly dubbed gazangers, often do so because they cannot find a property they want to buy. A shortage of suitable homes, coupled with an uncertain property market, is therefore thought to be one of the biggest drivers of gazanging. This shortage has partly been caused by the number of new houses being built – between 2010 and 2011 just 105,000 new homes were built in England, the lowest figure since the 1920s.

Background – gazanging

The rather bizarre sounding word gazanging was coined in 2011 by legal services website In-Deed. The expression seems to have taken inspiration from a combination of the word gazumping and the idea of an unfortunate buyer being "left hanging".

Gazumping is a term commonly used in the domain of property-buying to refer to the situation of a seller accepting one offer from a potential buyer, and then subsequently reneging on the agreement by accepting a higher offer from a rival bidder at the last minute. This unusual word has been used in this sense in English since the 1970s, though first entered the language in the 1920s as a modified version of Yiddish gezumph, meaning 'overcharge'. On the model of gazump, the new verb gazang also usually occurs in the passive form, so just as buyers sometimes be/get gazumped, they may also be/get gazanged.

The new word gazanging is in fact not the first time gazump has inspired a new piece of house-buying terminology. In the late eighties the expression gazundering appeared (with related verb/noun gazunder/gazunderer). Gazundering is where the buyer threatens, just before legal contracts are exchanged, to pull out of a house purchase unless the price is reduced. In this scenario, which usually occurs when the housing market is weak, the buyer holds all the power, and so this to some extent represents the opposite of both gazanging and gazumping, where the seller has the upper hand. Gazundering is legal in England and Wales, but not in Scotland.

Gazanging, gazumping and gazundering, in house-buying contexts now informally referred to as 'the three G's', are further explained in the video in this link, which also gives a few tips on how to avoid falling prey to them.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 10th October 2011.

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