For Goodness Sake...Put It In Writing!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC NC# 218097

So, nothing spurs a little blog activity like nuisance behavior.  There have always been agents wanting to "float" a verbal.  So much easier, right?  Nope.  Put it in Writing


Here's what happens when a buyer insists that their agent submit a verbal offer.  As the listing agent, I'm going to present the offer to the seller because legally that's what we are charged with doing. However, I will remind them of a conversation we always have at the listing presentation that we must present all offers, no matter how small and no matter whether they are verbal or written.  Does the seller have to counter or accept a verbal offer? Nope.  Can they insist that the offer be fully written and signed before responding? Yep.


Sitting down with your buyer's agent and actually writing an offer is time consuming because there are many terms to decide upon and a really good agent will take the time to help the buyer understand the many things they will be committing to.  Do you suppose that takes place when the buyer simply rattles off a purchase price and an earnest money deposit amount?  I am pretty sure that it isn't.  A verbal offer usually means that the buyer has no skin in the game.  It also can be interpreted as "fishing".  Just dangling this bait out there for the seller and hoping they can get a nibble.


You've heard the line "it isn't worth the paper it's written on"?  The phrase refers to non-binding contracts.  Who wants that?


So, back to the original it easier to float a verbal offer?  What do you think?  Personally, I don't think so plus the concept isn't exactly what we all learned in real estate school!



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Comments (19)

Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

And if a seller has indicated he/she only wants to know of offers that are written and come with pre-approval/proof of funds, then verbal offers are a definite waste of time.

Jun 11, 2019 03:10 AM
Mona Gersky

Kat, we have some agents who are definite repeat offenders of this behavior.

Jun 11, 2019 06:25 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Mona - this buyer or any that have this kind of thinking is a good candidate for another real estate lesson or dismissal from "class".  Frustrating for everyone involved.  

Jun 11, 2019 05:17 AM
Mona Gersky

Absolutely Michael.

Jun 11, 2019 06:26 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Mona. Any agent who conveys a verbal is wasting their time with a non client.

Jun 11, 2019 08:06 AM
Mona Gersky

Yep.  Like working with someone under an "oral" buyer agency agreement.

Jun 11, 2019 06:26 PM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Denver Broker / Real Estate Advocate

Yes,  , you are so correct about our responsibility in submitting an offer to our seller, regardless of how that offer has come in to us.  Verbal is a waste of time ... yes, it was a method by a non-serious buyer to discover something for nothing!

Jun 11, 2019 01:39 PM
Mona Gersky

A complete fishing expedition for sure.

Jun 11, 2019 06:27 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Verbal = squat! Sellers have every write to put in the listing - NO VERBAL OFFERS.  And they should because it doesn't serve them well to even consider a verbal offer that doesn't spell out all the particulars. And as we all know, there are a LOT of pariculars to spell out.

Jun 11, 2019 03:22 PM
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Anna, that's a great idea.  Maybe under Agent Remarks.

Jun 11, 2019 06:27 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Handshakes are great for small things where you can always take a deposit, but they don’t hold up in court too well.

Jun 11, 2019 11:10 PM
Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Verbal offers have no place in our business! If its not on the paper signed by both parties, it does not have any standing.

Jun 12, 2019 04:29 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I insist on a verbal so as not to waste any-ones time...Lets spend time working on what will fly and not leading up to what will fly. This is only for the seasoned....

Jun 12, 2019 05:46 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

Verbal offers usually indicate an offer the agent does not think is going to be accepted and so they do not want to waste their time writing it up. However, as has been said, their are many different terms to be considered and price, settlement date and deposit are not the only ones...writing an offer allows the buyer to focus on what they really want and for the seller to understand all the terms of the offer.

Jun 12, 2019 10:01 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

While I hear you completely, and it's true the buyers' agent is usually concerned that writing that offer will be a waste of time, also true that the devil is in the details, I actually will talk through the details of a potential verbal offer.     I feel  I owe it to my seller.     I just point out to the seller that this buyer &/or their agent seems hesitant, so nothing may come of it and to not to get excited until it's in writing.

Jun 13, 2019 07:45 AM
Clay R. Seay
Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage - Saint Augustine, FL

Well, sorry to be on the other side of this issue. I made a verbal offer today, the 4th one for this particular buyer and the same house. The buyer started low and the seller remained firm on price. Finally, several months later,  buyer made a full price verbal on price and a repeat of terms and conditions. Will it go to written offer? Lord, I hope so !

Do I like verbal offers? NO ! I agree with the majority, but it is NOT ALWAYS a waste of time. In our local market, a verbal is used to avoid having to re-write a messy contract for a Lender to have a "clean " contract. Do I like that? NO, but I do what the client ask for and work through the issues.

I run about a 75% acceptance on contracts where we started verbally and worked through the issues, the big one being price. I try to weed out the lookers and work with buyers who back up the verbal offer in writing. Not always pretty, but at the closing table no one cares how we started, but how we finish.

Jun 13, 2019 01:51 PM
Mona Gersky

There's room for all opinions and I'm glad you find a sufficient number of listing agents willing to play that game.

Jun 16, 2019 08:20 PM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Mona, my first broker used that line often. If it isn't on paper, it doesn't exist. 

Jun 14, 2019 10:47 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Mona Gersky ,

Congratulations on a well written post on an important topic. In Texas verbal offers are not blinding and in our fast paced market I'm not seeing them at all anymore. The days of throwing something out to see if a seller will bite is over here. It better be in writng and well filled out not asking for things and ties to a good lender who will do a great job.

Jun 15, 2019 08:07 AM
AndreaBFerreira CRS - SRS - CLHMS
Keyes Co. - Davie, FL
Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in FL

Yes, I'm with you.. if is not in writing has no practical value.... one little change and BAM!!! deal is not the same... in writing there is no if and buts... black and white.... Thank you...

Jun 15, 2019 12:56 PM

Thanks for sharing nice information with us. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative,

Jul 06, 2019 12:08 AM
Michael Guercio

Of course, it'll take much more time to do it in writing. That is why I don't like writing, it takes too much of my time. Moreover, the quality of my work is not very good, and sometimes I use the paraphrasing website. This helps me only correct the mistakes, but also makes my work more unique and quality.

Sep 18, 2021 05:52 AM
Victoria Issabell
Acadmicx - Andersonville, TN

More over i do not take too much time to rewriting again when my instructor asked me to rewrite essay or assignments when i used to study in higher education university UK. There are lots of Paraphrasing Services available in UK which provide quality of work, i personally used them since 2010

Jun 19, 2022 07:29 AM