Home Buying in 32967>Question Details

eric_slater, Home Buyer in Vero Beach, FL

Is the seller under any obligation to go through with my contract after a verbal acceptance?

Asked by eric_slater, Vero Beach, FL Mon Jul 1, 2013

I recently put in an offer for a home. My real estate agent said the seller made a verbal agreement. I completed the contract and my agent sent it to the seller. After trying to get the signed contract returned, my agent finds out the seller accepted another offer. Is this an ethics violation?

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A verbal agreement in real estate is legal but not enforceable. Basically it means nothing till it is in writing. We often go back and forth with verbal counter offers to save time but your agent should have let you know that if another offer comes in the seller is free to accept that offer. Sometimes it takes time to get everyone's signature on the contract and while you are waiting another buyer can jump in. It would have been nice to know there was another offer but that agent has to follow the instructions of his seller who may not have wanted to tell you about the other offer.

It certainly feels like something wrong happened but in this kind of market, where there are often multiple offers, there is often a winner and a loser. The best thing to do is move on and when you find an even better house; make a good first offer . . . one that might be accepted right away. Keep the time for acceptance short and always assume that if you think the house is great, there may be one or two buyers out there who are thinking the same thing; so move fast.

Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
Verbal agreements are not enforceable, thus there is no ethics violation in this case. All real estate contracts need to be in writing and signed by both parties to be legally binding. In the current real estate market of multiple offers on properties that are priced to sell, you offer needs to stand out. Your realtor will assist you with this process on your next offer. I wish you success in your quest to find a nice home.

John Makris
Treasure Coast
Sotheby’s International Realty
Cell: 772-532-0945
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
no this is not an ethics violation. a verbal offer/acceptance is not enforceable
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
Unless your agreement is in writing, there is no legally understood obligation on the part of the parties involved. For this reason, most agents will not deal in terms of verbal communication when it comes to contracts.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
Unless a contract is in writing and signed by the contracting parties, it is not enforceable under the Statute of Frauds.

Although the seller did not commit to the verbal acceptance, it can't be deemed as ethical violation.

There should be another home for you. This incident is not unusual.

For your consolation, just remember the dogma "If it is meant to be, it is meant to be."

Don't get disheartened. Continue on with your search with the help of your realtor.

Best of Luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
Agreements need to be in writing and delivered back to you or your agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 28, 2015
Until the contract is executed in writing by both parties there is no agreement. I would have had the seller fax me an acceptance or meet with them if they were local. At least then you would have something in writing. Unfortunately these things happen maybe too often. There are other ways to tie it up until contracts are signed. Contact me and I will show you how.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
In such transactions it is important to have things in writing. To have a meeting of the mind both parties needed to sign off on the paperwork.
This situation is not an ethical violation. I see sellers accept another offer during this period and there is nothing your agent can do about it but keep your home search going.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
Not binding for sure and most agreements in writing or not would have a window to back out. Certainly not unethical.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
No. Real estate agents who join a Board of Realtors agree to uphold the Realtors' Code of Ethics, and can be penalized if they don't. However, Sellers subscribe to no such Code, and are free to do as they please. Don't be discouraged. You may find an even better home than this one. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
No, Real Estate has to be in writing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
No, not at all.
A verbal agreement simply means, "Please delay the seller from making a decision until my offer is evaluated." A verbal agreement is not a contract but simply a suggestion of one's intention. Your suggested intention, compared to that of the opposing offer, did not offer the seller the greatest assurance. Be very aware, price is not the only issue a seller must consider.
The fact that your offer was so quickly dismissed, without any discussion, suggests to me you need to reevaluate your strategy. If a big bank is behind your financing, your REALLY need to strat listening to your real estate consultant.
In the future remember, Unicorns and verbal contracts share the same IMAGINARY space.
IT's not real until you have the contract, with all the signatures, in place in your hand.
Take care to insure youi are not working from a 2009 mindset that a real estate fire sale is underway.
Best of success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
In Florida all contracts must be on paper. Seller has no obligation to follow on their word, perhaps a moral dilemma that clearly they overcame easily when they accepted another offer. That is why it is so important that all offers are submitted in time and complete to start with. Specially in this sellers market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 1, 2013
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