Gazundering, where buyers take advantage of theposition to drop the agreed price at the last minute is reaching new extremes with hundreds of thousands of pounds being slashed from offer prices before exchange, says a report by the FT.

Vendors of high end properties in London are already accepting offers as much as a third below their asking price.

In the mid market, it’s not uncommon for a buyer to drop the offer price by £70,000 just before exchange. Vendors who are either in a chain or nervous about whether the market will drop prices further are left with little or no alternative but to agree to the new offer before the sale collapses.

Across the market gazundering is now common, says the FT. ‘At the moment there is not a single transaction that doesn’t involve some form of gazundering,’ said Richard Everitt at the east London area Winkworth branch.

The government’s decision to raise the nil-rate stamp duty threshold by £50,000 to £175,000 for the next 12 months has already propelled sellers at the lower end of the market to reduce their asking prices.