Home Buying in 20901>Question Details

Apropos, Home Buyer in 20901

Can a seller continue showing a property after they already have a signed contract with a buyer?

Asked by Apropos, 20901 Fri Dec 11, 2009

I was just shown a condo in NYC by the seller's agent, who (during the showing) told me that they have a signed contract and that I would need to make a higher offer for them to accept (of course, she didn't tell me how much). Is this legal? Are sellers allowed to continue entertaining offers after they have already signed a contract with a buyer? How can I find out if the agent is lying to me? What right of information do I have? Thank you!

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Sure they could show the property but they cannot ratify more than one offer. Sometimes, sellers will continue to show in hopes of getting a back up offer, which is a good thing to have as a seller if you think there is a reason that the first offer will fall out, ie. shaky financing. NYC practices real estate differently than the DC metro area. I would think your NY agent would be able to tell you the practices in that area. If you need a recommendation for a NY agent, let me know.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 26, 2013

Yes, agents can continue showing a property if there is a contract on it if it has not been ratified yet, or if there is a kick-out. If you are thinking about submitting an offer on the property as a back-up offer or otherwise, you could ask the selling realtor to provide a copy of the face sheet of the contract. All the face sheet will show you is that there is a contract on hand, all the personal information, etc. will be blacked out by the agent.

Hope this helps.


Stan Barsch
Long & Foster Realtors
Downtown Silver Spring
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 19, 2010
As the other answers say, yes, it's legal. More than that, it's the responsibility of the listing agent (unless the owner directs otherwise) to continue to actively market the property.

If there's already a contract signed by both parties, then yours would be the backup contract. But, as noted, lots of contracts fall through. Sometimes the buyer can't obtain financing. Other times, the home inspection comes back with some serious items that the seller isn't willing to address. And if the contract is signed only by the buyer, that doesn't mean anything. The seller can choose which contract to accept and sign.

How can you find out if the agent is lying to you? You can't. But there's no real reason to assume the agent is lying. He/she probably isn't. After all, why would an agent effectively attempt to discourage your offer by saying there's another one already in? All you can do is decide whether you want to make an offer. Then decide how much. Don't get caught up in a bidding war. Figure out how much it's worth to you, as well as your degree of regret if you failed to purchase it. Then make your best offer and see what happens.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 11, 2009
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
A seller can entertain any and all offers prior to being "pending." I primarily sell bank owned properties and I can tell you from that end of the spectrum, ANYTHING can happen prior to a "closing." In most cases with bank owned and REO properties, the deal is NOT a deal, until the "Seller" actually SIGNS the typically required "seller addendums." Until the transaction reaches "that" point, it is still marked as an "active" listing in the MLS. Once all of the documents are signed, by BOTH parties, the listing status is then changed to "pending." Once it's "pending" then the contract IS a contract.

In a lot of cases, the deal may fall apart prior to getting to the closing table. The seller isn't going to tell you what the previous offers were either. They don't do that because it lets their guard down and allows a potential new buyer to know how low they will go. Even in the event of "multiple offers" they aren't going to tell you what the other offers are either. That's the seller's way of getting more money out of each bidder. Who knows, one person might offer 10k more than the other buyer because of them not knowing what the others are.

I realize your question wasn't directed at a "bank owned" type transaction, but that's where my primary experience lies. I'm also located in SW Ohio. Real estate transactions can vary from region to region.

Hopefully, this helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 11, 2009
Yes, we show homes until the contract is fully executed by the seller. If you showed the property and the buyer wanted to put in an offer, it could be accepted if it were higher and better terms. The agent is obligated to present your offer and why would the seller accept anything other than a higher price unless they are equal and your offer has better terms? That is the seller's decision. Of course, if the current buyer with the half signed contract backed out your would be in an excellent position. Once the contract is fully executed there is no reason to show. Uless we have a signed contract as a buyer's agent our fudiciary obligation is with the seller.

Toni Martin
Associate Broker
Century 21 Prevete Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 11, 2009
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