Can a Seller Refuse an Accepted Counter Offer?

By
Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate BRE #00697006

An agent in a bit of confusion yesterday left a voice mail to ask how a seller can refuse to accept their counter offer after the buyer signed it and sent it back. Like with anything in Sacramento real estate, the devil is in the details. It all depends on how the acceptance came together. When the counter was delivered and whether receipt confirmed.

How did the refusal to accept a counter offer occur? Is the home still on the market or did the agent cancel the listing? There are all sorts of variances that make a difference in this type of situation. You can read more in my personal blog today at this link: Can a Seller Withdraw a Counter Offer Before its Deadline?

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Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying expert for About.com, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout the four-county Sacramento area with an emphasis on Elk Grove. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 40 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate. BRE License # 00697006.

The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, available with free shipping.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of Lyon Real Estate. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.

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Rainmaker
2,154,430
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

"Often what happens is another offer arrives while we are waiting for the buyer’s agent to send back the counter."  

That's usually the way I've seen it happen too!

May 26, 2018 10:52 AM #1
Rainmaker
489,806
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Way back when I first took out my real estate license in Hawaii in the 70s, my memorable teacher said "you don't have a contract when you make a counter" and that goes both ways. Sometimes the seller "thinks" too long to sign a buyers counter and the buyer renigs when he finds a better a home or other reasons. The other thing that teacher said that I have never forgotten? Sorry, can only tell you in person but it made a HUGE impression on me and saved my butt several times.

May 26, 2018 11:23 AM #2
Rainmaker
2,387,733
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

The devil is indeed in the details, Elizabeth... and these days with so many forms of communication it's ever more important to keep track of all communications and timelines. Fortunately, I don't see this happening very often, but I always keep close track of all communications around offers and contracts just in case.

May 26, 2018 03:28 PM #3
Rainmaker
2,387,733
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Carol Williams suggested for Second Chance Saturday. Something all agents need to give some thought to.

May 26, 2018 03:29 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,994,976
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Myrl Jeffcoat Buyers often tend to operate in a vacuum, as though they are the only person on the face of the planet out housing hunting that particular day, with those specific objectives. They are not unique.

May 27, 2018 08:12 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,994,976
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® Buyers can flake after offer acceptance, too. Just no guarantees, LOL.

So tell me what else framed your outlook on real estate?

May 27, 2018 08:14 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,994,976
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Nina Hollander So often in these situations you've got bitter feelings and threats of a lawsuit, but really, seriously, are they going to court? Maybe. Depends on the attraction, belligerence, and price point of the transaction.

May 27, 2018 08:17 AM #7
Rainmaker
2,387,733
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Elizabeth... first, they need to find an attorney who will even handle this kind of case and that wouldn't be easy in my area. And then there is the cost... and really, how hard would it be to prove real damages. 

May 27, 2018 08:26 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,994,976
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Nina Hollander It is easy to find a lawyer in California. We are a state of sue-happy individuals. And damages is not what they would be after. It would be specific performance.

May 27, 2018 08:34 AM #9
Rainmaker
2,387,733
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

That's true... forgot about California and its plethora of lawyers. Here in NC it would be very hard to force specific performance at this "stage" of the contract mostly because it would be hard to prove serious damage to the buyer. 30 days into a contract... that's another story.

May 27, 2018 08:38 AM #10
Rainmaker
3,522,121
Joan Cox
Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Elizabeth, our buyers can do it, and if someone pushed hard enough, they MAY get somewhere, but not at the counter stage as much.

May 28, 2018 07:02 AM #11
Ambassador
1,693,328
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

There are different scenarios, you are right. Acceptance is one of them. Buyer signing a counteroffer is just signing the counteroffer, but if there was no acceptance, I believe there could be no enforcement

May 28, 2018 12:52 PM #12
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