Just Because You Make An Offer…

I received a call recently from a frustrated buyer.  It seems she made an offer on a house eight days previously and still had not received an answer back from the seller.  She believed that since a deadline was placed on her offer the seller was obligated to answer her within that deadline.

That is a common misconception.  In fact many Realtors also believe the same myth. 

The only thing the deadline on your offer does is limit the time for which the offer is good.  If the seller wants to accept your offer just like you wrote it he must do so before the deadline.  If he accepts your offer after the deadline, then it still isn’t a contract unless you agree in writing to the extension.

It is common courtesy for the seller to respond within a reasonable time frame, but there is no legal reason why they need to respond at all.  If they completely ignore your offer, then your offer expires after your deadline and you are free to offer on another house or make a second offer on this one.

There are a couple of caveats to the above comments. 

  • First, the seller’s Realtor is obligated by law to present the offer to the seller as soon as is reasonably possible. There are times that it isn’t possible to contact the seller.  If this is the case, the seller’s Realtor needs to communicate this situation to the other party.
  • Second, If the offer is for the full price and terms as stated on the Valley Board of Realtors listing agreement, the seller IS obligated for something.  The seller is obligated to pay a commission even if the offer is not accepted.  This particular fact is usually not communicated effectively, if at all, to sellers. 

If you have more questions about this, leave a comment.