Can a seller refuse a full bid offer on their house without penalty?

My parents are selling their house but it isn’t on the market yet. Their broker talked they into putting their house on the market just under market value in order to incite a bidding war. Apparently, the broker does that with all of the houses that she sells and the seller always gets above asking. Well, now she is acting as the broker for a buyer and wants to show the house early to the potential buyer. The broker has told my parents that the buyer will most likely make a full bid offer. Not the original plan she had sold them on. With an exclusive right to sell contract, can my parents decline a full bid offer with no contingencies without having to pay commission since they suspect foul play? Or is there a specific number of days they have to accept an offer, since the broker is trying to show the house to the potential buyer before it is on the market? The broker has referred to the buyer as her friend, neighbor, and acquaintance on several occasions but only refers to them as her client via email and text. For this reason we suspect that she is not living up to her

fiduciary duty to my parents but there is no way of proving it.

Asked on May 9, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A seller has full right to decline an offer--including a full-price offer, or even a more-than-full price offer--freely, without penalty, for any reason (any reason that is not housing discrimination, that is: e.g. you can't refuse to sell due to race). So if they believe that the realtor has gerrymandered things so as to put other's interests ahead of theirs or to get them to accept less than they believe they can get, they may refuse the offer.

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