Can a realtor take another offer to a seller, if your offer has already been accepted?

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Can a realtor take another offer to a seller, if your offer has already been accepted?

We found a piece of property, contacted realtor who happens to be related to seller. There was an offer but nothing ratified on property. We put in a cash offer and the seller agreed. Realtor contacted buyers realtor to let them know the seller had decided to go with us and did not wish to pursue with them any longer. In meantime the buyer’s realtor has come back with another offer and seller’s realtor is going to present that after stating they were going with us. We were to sign contract and give earnest money tomorrow and close with cash in 20 days. Is this illegal for the seller realtor to do this?

Asked on April 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

Daniel Hamad / Hamad Law Firm, LLC

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I disagree with SJZ somewhat.  While everything he says is true, I think it misses the boat.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with the realtor informing the seller of another offer coming in.  That, as a matter of law, is just fine.  What SJZ's answer relates to is whether they can then break your contract (if you have one), which of course they cannot.

I would say if you haven't signed the contract yet, you have no contract, since (among many other reasons) while you may have agreed on a price, there has not yet been any meeting of the minds as to the details of the contract.

In addition, even if I grant that you have a contract (which I do not do), if the seller has another offer on the table do not expect them to give you any slack - and unless it's a cash purchase, you can pretty much guarantee you're going to need their help at some point.

 

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.  The post is only an opinion.  You should speak to an attorney for further information.  The poster is licensed only in CT & NY.  Please visit www.hamadlawfirm.com for more information about our services.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a matter  of law, no, once--an offer has been accepted, the party which accepted the offer is bound to it. The issue may be whether this offer was in fact "accepted" given that no contract was yet signed and no deposit or earnest money put down: it is usually the case in real estate that it is the signing of the contact (and acceptance of a deposit, if any) which constitutes acceptance of any offer. Also complicating matters is that you did not speak, it seems, with the sellers thhemselves and hear the acceptance from their mouth; instead, you heard it from a realtor who heard it from a realtor, if I'm reading the details correctly. However, one person cannot bind another person that way; you would need evidence of acceptance by the buyers. So legally, an accepted offer is binding; practically, in this case, there may not have been one. If the house is worth pursuing, contact a real estate attorney *immediately* who can review all the facts and communications in detail and advise you as to whether you have a case; but be prepared that without direct communication with and acceptance by the seller, without a signed contract, and without a deposit, on these facts it is likely there was no accepted offer.


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