I just had an experience where we had multiple offers on a property and all parties were told to come in with their highest and best offer. A buyer stepped up and made a full price offer to the seller and the seller promised to sign the agreement. Just before the seller was going to sign, a higher offer came in. Of course the seller wanted the highest offer and did not want to counter the agreement they originally promised to sign. Not only was the latter offer higher but the buyer was much more qualified than the buyer they first agreed to sell to.
After the seller signed the highest priced offer, the first buyer who lost out contacted an attorney to challenge the validity of the verbal agreement based on the promise to sign the offer. In Texas, the contract states that it is not binding until signed by all parties and communicated as such. After 29 years in the business, I was surprised to learn that if a party promises to sign an agreement and then changes their mind, they could be held liable for damages resulting from actions the other party took based on the promise of the other party to sign the contract. In this case, the buyer apparently did not incur any expenses but they tried to use that scare tactic as an incentive for the seller to come back to their offer. It did not work but could have tied the property up in court and prevented a sale if they could prove damages. Honestly, I have never advised a buyer or a seller to take action that could cost them anything before they have a signed agreement in their hand and I find it hard to believe anyone would do so. I believe that any real state agent who advises their client to take action based on a verbal statement should be the one held liable because they should know that anything can happen before a contract is signed by and delivered to all parties.
I don't like to see people in this situation but hey, I did not write the laws and it's my job to present all offers up until, and sometimes after, we have a signed agreement.
Your comments are welcomed.
Keller Williams Signature Realty