Seller Tip: Don’t Try This at Home

Or What a Seller Did to Infuriate Me and cut off his own nose to spite his face.  My investor buyers, who already had a renter lined up, wanted to see a cute house set atop a hill near their home.  The house was newer, had a 2 car garage, large yard, larger bedrooms and walk-in closet in the master and looked like a great potential investment.  We submitted a complete package, made a cash offer to close in 10 days, and hoped for the best. 

We were overjoyed when the listing agent called with a counter offer that was reasonable and my clients accepted.  Before the paperwork could exchange hands, the listing agent called back to say there were now multiple offers on the table and that my clients should come back with their highest and best, after our verbal offer had been accepted!  Well imagine my surprise when the listing agent argued there was no contract to honor!  She had not gotten the counter offer signed by her seller before presenting it, and in fact, it was true – there was no contract to honor. 

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission states a broker can only give Notice of Acceptance; the broker can’t bind a client to a contract that the client hasn’t signed.  A Broker will create a binding contract by notifying the party making the offer/counter-offer, or that party’s Broker, that the Broker has in their possession the offer signed & accepted by their client as written;  A call to the Legal Department that day revealed that although what the agent did was not illegal, it was, however, unethical.  

Much of real estate is transacted in good faith, and it’s common practice and legally binding to communicate acceptance by phone, email, fax, and mail.  In this case, the agent communicated acceptance of the counter offer without having the seller signed docs in hand.  The greedy seller then violated his word, and lured by the smell of money, accepted another offer described by the listing agent as ‘WAY WAY over the list price’ instead of signing what he’d agreed to.  The agent said the offer was so ridiculous that it probably wouldn’t work out, and that she’d call me if and when it went back on the market.  

My clients and I were angry and frustrated.    They went on the get another great property under contract.

Then, you guessed it.  The email arrived.  The buyers, who had their contract accepted on the basis of a cash purchase, couldn’t get a loan.  Poor buyer.  Poor seller.  My offer had gone in with a proof of funds letter; apparently, theirs did not.

My buyers are very happy with their new purchase, and we close Friday. 

There’s no way they’d have gone back to negotiate with the previous seller after what they’d experienced.  There was just too much risk with all the behind the scenes chain of events that must come together smoothly to close that the seller and listing agent couldn’t be trusted to perform. 

And the seller’s property is still on the market… and that smell of cold hard cash has long wafted away.

For an agent who does things the right way, and protects your best interests from contact to close, contact me by phone or text at 704.562.1030 For a property search to get you on your way to building your investor portfolio, visit TheSafariGroup.com and SEARCH Properties.

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