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Time is a buyer’s worst enemy

askphyllis real estate question, real estate q and A

ask phyllis real estate question, real estate q and A

Ask Phyllis is a blog series of frequently asked real estate questions.  Have a question about real estate?  Email us here

Dear Phyllis,

I haven’t seen you address this. Does accepting the seller’s counter offer equal a binding contract? Here is our scenario: As soon as this home was listed, my agent scheduled a viewing. We loved the home and my real estate agent wrote an offer that evening. The next day, the listing Realtor® emailed my agent a counter offer. Because this was a divorce there were attorneys involved and the listing agent stated the sellers would not sign until after we signed the counter offer accepting their changes. He said the sellers didn’t want to pay their respective attorneys to review the counter offer if we didn’t agree. We signed and my agent returned it to the listing agent. An hour later the listing agent said the seller received another offer and now they wanted to issue a multiple counter to both of us. We were so upset we passed on the house. It seems like this should be a violation of the code of ethics or something. I feel as though time is a buyer’s worst enemy, what are your thoughts?

Thank You,
Leo

Dear Leo,

Buying a home can be such an emotional rollercoaster and I am sorry this happened. You have sadly learned that during the offer negotiations, time is a buyer’s worst enemy. Unfortunately, the sellers had not signed your counter offer and verbal real estate contracts are not binding. (There’s an expression we were taught in real estate school: verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are not written on).

I understand how frustrating it is for buyers and sometimes even suspicious when another offer suddenly materializes. I often see homes linger on the market for weeks or even months and then all of a sudden several buyers write offers at the same time. Leo, you did everything right. You looked at the home as soon as it came on the market. You and your agent wrote the offer quickly and you immediately responded to the seller’s counter offer. Had the seller signed the counter offer issued to you, the outcome should have been different. Don’t give up, there’s another home out there for you, likely even a better one.

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