Can a listing agent accept an offer and back out of original offer?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a listing agent accept an offer and back out of original offer?

Recently, I found a home I liked and made an offer. After a few counter offers, a price was

agreed upon the buyer accepted. This happened on a Friday. The email, which has the acceptance of my offer included, also states the contract would be sent on Monday. On Sunday, the listing agent showed the house advised those buyers he needed full asking price. There are no signatures, nor a deposit. Does an offer accepted via email count as a

legally binding document, to where the 2nd offer would be the back up offer if mine didn’t work out?

Asked on October 25, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A contract requires a valid offer and valid acceptance.
An offer is effective upon receipt.  An acceptance is effective upon dispatch.  Offer and/or acceptance can be sent via e-mail as that is a reasonable mode of communication.
If there are multiple offers, the first one that is received is effective.
If there are multiple acceptances, the first one sent is effective because acceptance is effective upon dispatch.

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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