If a seller of a home on a short sale sent us a list of exclusions, can they send a new one later adding 10x the items to the list?

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If a seller of a home on a short sale sent us a list of exclusions, can they send a new one later adding 10x the items to the list?

We put an offer on a house on approximatelt 7 weeeks ago; it is a short sale. The sellers quickly accepted the offer and sent it off to the bank for their approval. About 5 weeks ago, they sent us a list of exclusions which we were not happy about, but could live with. The bank finally accepted the offer after 46 days of waiting and now the sellers have sent us a 2 page single spaced list of things they are excluding from the sale – the garage door opener, the thermostat, all fans and light fixtures, all shelving and closet organizations installed, shower heads and curtain rods, etc. Can they do this?

Asked on March 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the offer "as was" was accepted by the homeoner, then they cannot, after the offer is accepted, alter the terms. The question is, whether the offer was in fact accepted. If before the seller has indicated acceptance of the offer they sent you a list of exclusions in response to your offer, that constitutes rejection of the initial offer and the return of a counteroffer; they would therefore not be bound by the original offer you made. So what matters is the timing of when they accepted vs. when they sent the amended list of exclusions. They are bound to any offer they accepted prior to sending you a counter. Note that while the bank's approval is important for the seller--it's what lets the short seller off the hook for any remaining balance on the loan--it is not important to the more basic issue of whether the offer was accepted or countered, since the bank is not actually a seller of the home.


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