When is a counter offer deadline on the date of signure of acceptance of the counter offer or when the seller’s agent claims that he received it?

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When is a counter offer deadline on the date of signure of acceptance of the counter offer or when the seller’s agent claims that he received it?

My husband and I put an offer on a home. We received a counter-offer via email on 12/26 though the e-signatures show was signed 12/24. We signed, there is a time stamp for our signature, which was 1 pm on 12/27 within the 3 day before 5 pm period. Our agent emailed the signed/accepted counter offer to the seller’s agent and has a record of time sent. She has also been in communication with the seller’s agent. He knows we accepted. The seller’s agent never responded or acknowledged acceptance of the counter and states that he didn’t receive the offer until 12/28 expired. He then says the sellers would like the weekend to think it over, since the counter is expired. Is this legit? Can he do this? Should we have asked for a new date on the counter offer?

Asked on January 1, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The issue about receipt of a counter offer is not when it is signed or transmitted, but when it was received, since it is only when when the other side (or their agent) actually gets your acceptance that the offer is accepted. IF the other agent is telling the truth, that he only received it after time to accept it expired, then the seller does not not need to accept but could choose to.
Under the facts you describe, you may be able to prove it was received by the seller's agent, who is the seller's representative, before the expiration on 12/28 (assuming your agent did in fact email it before then and it did not "bounce" due to an invalid email address, etc.). If receipt before the expiration can be proven, the seller can be forced to honor it and sell the house to you. However, if the seller does not want to voluntarily honor your offer but you want to force them to do so on this basis, you'd have engage in acrimonious and potentially expensive litigation, so unless this house is your absolute dream home or you are getting the deal of a lifetime, it would not likely worthwhile to litigate--it would be better to look for another home to buy.


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