Home Buying in 11777>Question Details

Donna, Home Buyer in Saint James, NY

My offer was accepted. The seller and listing agent assured me that any other offers would be back-up offers

Asked by Donna, Saint James, NY Fri May 2, 2008

only. We complete the inspection, at my cost. All documents were in process of review by lawyers. Then, listing agent calls my agent to say that they accepted another offer, would WE like to be the back-up offer? What is my recourse?

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Real estate in Long Island is not buyer friendly. The "binder" that you signed does include all of the verbiage that you mention, however, real estate agents do not view it as a contractual agreement, binding to both parties- nor does the state of New York. It's a mess for the buying public, as you are putting on the table funds for an inspection without a guarantee that the house is "yours". I ran into the same situation when I arrived in NY, and was stunned that a document signed, that indicates that it's contractual, really isn't- and we lost $500. for an inspection. In the majority of states, when you make a purchase, the Realtor generates the contract, with a stipulation that you have "x" number of days to perform an inspection- so this part of the process is done AFTER a contract has been signed by both parties. I'd love to see someone go after the real estate community (of which I am a member) in this scenario, holding the agent (s) accountable for providing a document that states one thing, but by common practice, means something else entirely. One would think, with lawyer participation typical on both sides, that this sort of thing wouldn't happen, but looking foolish and deceiving the buying public appears to be pretty ingrained on Long Island. Not good- I'd speak with an attorney, show him/her the actual binder, and leave it to them to go after the agents involved that provided you with a document that indicates an agreement, but in reality, ISN'T. Perhaps that will compel change with the format of binders before inspections; inspections before a signed agreement; and buyers that find themselves in a mess that received no adequate explanation from those involved. As long as Realtors accept this convoluted disaster, the buying public on Long Island will continue to receive the short end of every transaction. You are right to feel deceived, because you were. Good luck- next time you locate a home, insist that your agent (as they are permitted to do) fill in the blanks on a contract, submit it to your attorney for review, and present it to the seller with a time frame for an inspection. The real estate community is sitting idly by, with a "that's the way it is" attitude, when in fact, it's entirely avoidable. Talk with a lawyer, show them the binder, and if they tell you that the fact that the verbiage indicates a commitment, but it really isn't, look for an out of state lawyer that "gets" that buyers are being taken on Long Island. Just an opinion- the whole thing is horrific. I feel for you.
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
You should consult with the attorney who was reviewing the contract for you. If you ordered the inspection while the attorney was reviewing the terms of the contract--prior to all parties affixing their signature--you may not like what he/she tells you, but the attorney may not charge you for the advice.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
It's hard to say without knowing the timeline of the transaction. Was there a final acceptance date? My advice would consult a attorney that specializes in real estate law. Sorry, I don't really give legal advice. Good luck to you and hopefully everything works out for you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
Sorry to hear of your troubles. Are you represented by a realtor? A buyer's agent representing you should have presented your offer in writing and acceptance of the offer should also have been in writing. If they/you did and the seller did then it sure sounds like you have may have legal recourse. I would suggest speaking with a lawyer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
If the home was truly on the market for back up offers only, the home is yours. I would have to see the contract & how it is written to see if you have a leg to stand on.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
Unless you are in contract, I don't think you have any recourse. As a buyer, you need some trust from the seller. The best thing you can do is make yourself the best buyer possible. Be pre-approved. Have 20+% down. etc. A seller would be stupid to pass over a "perfect" buyer for small increase especially in today's market.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
A quick suggestion: contact the Department of Justice (they have contacts in NY) provide them with the paperwork and agencies involved, and get their take- NY is not proactively seeking to protect consumers (obviously).
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Maybe it's just lack of understanding but if your offer was accepted, was it in writing and if not, who advised you to complete an inspection prior to having a fully executed contract? I cannot even imagine a licensed agent directing you to make any expenditures without every i dotted and every t crossed. What is the real situation, written or verbal only? Are you represented or not? You may have recourse based on the answers you provide.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008

Then why does the offer state, "This is a legally enforceable contract, you should consider whether you whish to consult your attorney prior to signing the same."? Further, it states, (withing the lead paint disclosure contingency, "This agreement obligates the parties to sell and purchase the real property described herein... and the purchaser and seller have agreed to perform under terms hereof or any other terms and conditions subsequently negotiated."

No where in the document does it stipulate that the seller may continue to show the home, or may accept another offer.

How is this not a legally binding contract?

Further, we later discovered that the listing agent did not disclose that the seller was her grandmother, and that the competing offer was not only brought by the same agency, but from another friend of the family.

They may have acted within the confines of the law, but I may file an ethics complaint with the NYS Board of Ethics, as the agent acted in a manner that was "deemed untrustworthy."

So, it appears that I may have some recourse, after all.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
first of all, did the sellers sign and accept your offer? did they counter stating they would retain the right to continue to accept multiple offers? or did thhey indicate this right in any way.? I would look at your state laws regarding this issue and also re-read the contract (s) for unknown request you werenot aware of or your agent did make you aware of.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
Donna, Sorry about your situation. Until the contract is drawn up and signed by both parties (buyer and seller) the seller is not legally obligated to take your offer, the seller would most certainly take an offer that was higher priced and/or with better terms than yours up to the signing of the contract, your real estate agent should have told you this before hand. Can you make a higher offer with better terms than your first offer?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
I would like to add that I think the other agent should have out of courtesy given you a chance to meet the newly accepted offer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 10, 2009
Unfortunately these things do happen, but you can look at it from the other side as well. In the sellers world, the simple fact that buyers presented an offer does not by any means guarantee that this offer will make it to contract. As the seller, you accept an offer and then, wait...... but then the buyers change their mind and walk away, for whatever reason. If you had stopped listening to and accepting other offers, you would have wasted time and possibly passed up other potenital buyers. Until the contracts are signed, nothing is assured. Sorry that this has happened to you... Best of luck in the future...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 10, 2009
The listing agent is obligated to present all offers to the homeowner up to closing. If you had an accepted offer and a better offer came in out of courtesy the listing agent could have given you right of first refusal. That means you would have the right to meet the same price or terms (large down payment, fast close) as the new offer if you are inclined to or refuse. Your agent can call the listing agent and request this. Perhaps you could not meet the new offer and would have to refuse, or the owner may have shown a strong preference for the second offer for some other reason. Your agent can ask for a detailed explanation and review it with you. Having spent money on an inspection, you can also request that you be reimbursed if the homeowner takes another offer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
It happens. Pick yourself up, brush off your jeans and stop crying. Do you have recourse? Sure, go look elsewhere and don't look back. Life happens, live with it .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 4, 2008
I completely endorse the answer from Linda.anasta....If you were working with a Buyer's Agent, that agent could take further action up to the point where a contract of sale is signed by both parties. If your agent was a seller's or broker's agent, according to proper disclosure documentation, a better offer should be presented to the seller. In either case, both you and the seller would be in a better situation if full disclosure were used to ante up a better offer for the seller. This may not be what you want, but it is a method I've used effectively in this situation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
In Long Island, there is no deal until you are totally in contract. The law requires us to present ALL offers up until closing. Unfortunately you have no recourse.

I warn all of my buyers that this type of situation can happen and does happen at any time and to go at top speed into contract to avoid it. It is unfortunate that Real Estate is done in this manner in Long Island and nowhere else. You have no recourse.
Web Reference: http://GailGladstone.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
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