One in three people have had a property purchase fall through, with more than three million househunters being victims of gazumping, research has revealed.

It is a bigger problem in England and Wales than in other European countries, with 37 per cent of people who have had a sale fall through saying it was due to gazumping, according to Scottish Widows Bank.

This compared with 30 per cent of people who had lost a sale in Italy because of the problem, 29 per cent who had lost one in France, 25 per cent in Spain and just 18 per cent in Germany.

Just under three out of ten Britons said they had lost a property they had wanted to buy after the vendor took it off the market, while 19 per cent had pulled out after having a survey done.

A further five per cent had lost a property they liked because they hadn't pre-arranged a mortgage.

The research also found that people spent relatively little time viewing a property considering the size of the purchase.