Are bidding wars legal?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Are bidding wars legal?

I have agreed to pay the full asking price on a house. Can the agent offer a higher
bid from another person and request another bid from me?

Asked on November 13, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Until and unless the other side (the seller) accepts an offer, the seller (e.g. through their agent) is free to accept, or even actively solicit, offers from other people, to encourage bidding wars, and to ask an offeror to come back with a higher offer. Home sales are not like most sales, such as buying a computer from a store or online: the seller is NOT required to take a full price offer, but can hold out for more, decide to not sell, or even accept a lower-price offer if they deem it better in other ways (e.g. no contingencies). So if the seller did not yet accept your offer, they can do this.
On the other hand, if they did accept your offer, in accepting it, they entered into a contract to sell you the property at that price and must sell it to you so long as you comply with your obligations (e.g. pay the deposit when required). if a seller refuses to sell to you after accepting the offer, you could sue them for breach of contract.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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