Can a full asking price offer for a property not be accepted?

UPDATED: Oct 26, 2010

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Can a full asking price offer for a property not be accepted?

I have been looking a lot of houses. A lot of them are advertised low trying to get a lot of interest. When they get a lot of offers, then the realtors start playing one buyer off of another to bid the price up. I know that it isn’t legal for a car dealer to bait the public with a low price and then not have the advertised vehicle available at the low advertised price. It would seem that this ought to apply to real estate. Does it?

Asked on October 26, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

What you write is logical; unfortunately, it's not the law:

1) Home sellers are perfectly entitled to look to entice buyers into a bidding war; there is no legal obligation to sell at the advertised price.

2) Moreover, in terms of real estate, there's no oblilgation to sell at all--a home seller could pull a home off the market even after getting full price offers, if the seller decided to. Only when an offer is accepted and a contract signed is the seller obligated to sell.

3) As a corollary to the above, sellers can reject full price, even highest price, offers for any nonmonetary reason and select a different offer. Maybe they like the closing date better; or they prefer to take an offer without a financing contingency; etc.

4) The only think sellers can't do is discriminate in terms of a protected category in which offers they accept; no discrimination against people on the basis of race, religion, sex, age over 40, disability, etc.

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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