CAN YOU WITHDRAW AN OFFER? - Coastal Florida Real Estate


How much time do you have to withdraw an offer?

There is often confusion about how much time you have to withdraw an offer, or counter-offer in a residential real estate.  Without getting too legal let’s just take a look at the basics.

Offers and contracts can be verbal or written but as the saying goes a verbal offer is worth the paper it is written on. You can buy and sell anything with a verbal deal or a handshake but this won’t hold up in court if something goes wrong.  Verbal contracts are not enforceable.

Here is part of an article from a professional trade journal on this subject.

Jan. 2, 2017 —A seller has received an offer for her home and after consideration makes a verbal counter offer through her Realtor. The potential buyers verbally accept, but the seller then gets cold feet and withdraws the counter offer. Is the seller’s move legal?

Answer: Yes.

Assuming the parties have nothing in writing, the seller is likely able to do this based on a legal concept called The Statute of Frauds. Under the Statute of Frauds, certain types of contracts must be in writing in order for them to be enforceable. One of the types of contracts under this rule is the contract for the sale of real property. Therefore, if the parties only have a verbal agreement, it is likely an unenforceable contract as it wasn’t memorialized in writing.

Let’s look at this a little.

In my experience, once there is a “meeting of the minds” transactions usually move forward and the paperwork is only a formality.  But doing things on only a handshake or verbal agreement is risky.

Here’s an example:  Suppose buyer #1 makes a written offer of $500,000 on a home.  The seller accepts the offer verbally and this information is communicated back to the buyer, but the seller does not sign and return a counter offer.

The next day, another written offer from buyer #2 arrives for $525,000.  The seller’s agent calls buyer #1 and says the seller is withdrawing his counter-offer to accept the higher priced second offer.  Of course, buyer #1 is furious and will likely say they had an agreement, and they did, but since it wasn’t in writing it is not enforceable.

The Take Away

When conducting the business of real estate make every effort to get deals approved, signed, returned to your agent and communicated to the other agent as quickly as possible.  Communication with the agent is considered the same as communication with the principal in the deal but you need the terms of the deal in writing.

Also, include a real estate attorney in your transaction, they are well worth the small fee incurred and can help you avoid problems.

Finally, when selecting your agent, test their ability to communicate quickly before hiring them.  If you are not able to reach your agent quickly it might cost you a deal.  How long did it take you to reach them the first time you tried?

If you would like to have a conversation about meeting your real estate goals, contact me directly at 561.762.4073. My experience is your advantage.

Not ready to talk?  Visit my You Tube Channel where there are over 400 videos on real estate and the Coastal Florida real estate market.

Richard Sites, Realtor