Legal FAQs for REALTORS®
— Contracts and Forms
My client received an offer on his home. He wants to submit a counteroffer to the prospective buyer and asked me to call the buyer’s agent with the information. The buyer’s broker insists that the seller must either make a formal counteroffer in writing or reject the buyer’s offer in writing. Does my client have to respond in writing? (updated October 15, 2015)
No. A seller has no legal duty to respond to an offer in any particular way. A verbal counteroffer could expedite negotiations for the sale of a property in many cases. Of course, once there is an agreement about the terms and conditions of the sale, the parties should promptly reduce the agreement to writing and sign the contract to make it a binding obligation.
A seller could respond to a buyer's offer by using the Seller's Invitation to Buyer to Submit New Offer (TAR 1926). This form would be particularly useful when the seller's proposal contains several changes to the buyer's offer. By using this form, the seller is free to consider other offers without having to be concerned about the withdrawal of a previous, written counteroffer.
My seller received a written offer to purchase his property. Instead of countering the offer in writing, the parties engaged in verbal negotiations that resulted in a verbal agreement on new terms. Before the buyer’s broker submitted an updated offer with those terms included, my seller received a written offer from another potential buyer that he chose to accept. Now, the first buyer is threatening to sue my client for breach of contract because of their verbal agreement. Is the verbal agreement enforceable? (Updated Oct. 27, 2014)
No. A verbal agreement must be reduced to writing and signed by the buyer and seller to become valid. Since a contract was never created, nor signed, there is nothing for the buyer to enforce. While verbal negotiations of contracts can be a quicker way to reach an agreement, verbal agreements are not enforceable for the sale of real property.
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