Lisa, Home Buyer in Philadelphia, PA

Sellers and their agent orally accepted our offer on the house but then revoked the offer. Can they do that?

Asked by Lisa, Philadelphia, PA Fri Mar 6, 2009

We placed an offer on a house. The sellers and their agent orally accepted our offer. 10 minutes later they called our agent and told us that they've received a higher offer from another buyer and will not sell us the house unless we offer a higher bid. Can the sellers do that?

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Unless it is signed by both parteis , either party can change their mind. If you like the home and it is worth the price, you can offer more. Or you can wait for another home to come on the market. Hope you are working with a buyer's agent.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009

Have your Realtor put the escalation clause into your agreement as I said below.

It's a great tool.

Renee Porsia
Associate Broker
(215) 669-0589 Direct
(215) 358-1100 Office Ask for Renee
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Lisa, I just saw your question....I am SO sorry that you've had to suffer this disappointment. My colleagues are correct: there is no legally cognizable contract unless and until both parties execute (or sign) the agreement of sale. The escalation clause suggestion below is a great idea....if there's any opportunity for you, that is it!

Having practiced law for nearly ten years prior to entering the real estate profession, I find that my clients really appreciate my legal expertise (as well as negotiation strategies). The law is so very important to real estate transactions.....and contract language that may be added by your agent must be drafted in such a way that what you're trying to ask for (by way of the contract) is clearly written and not subject to a contrary interpretation. Bottom line: when writing an offer on a home, be sure that your agent is knowledgeable and can explain any questions you may have about contract language contained in your offer.

Good luck with your new home search. (BTW: I know of a beautiful home in Huntingdon Valley that may be coming's a 3BR, 2.5Ba home in a sought-after neighborhood with a finished basement. It's currently owned by a friend of mine who is contemplating putting the home on the market in 1-3 in the neighborhood have recently sold in the lower 400s......if that's in your price range, and you'd like to see pictures of the home I'm talking about, send me an email at: or call me at (610) 324-5240.)


Judy May, Esquire, REALTOR
Your D.I.A.M.O.N.D. Realtor
O: 610.489.7700
C: 610.324.5240 (preferred)

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Hello Lisa! Sorry you had to go through this situation. When making an offer it does need to be in writing and once it is signed by the seller then they can not change their minds. For future reference also if you make a offer in writing and the seller does not sign your offer and gives you a counter is like not having a written offer anymore. So, if the seller gets another offer from another buyer and it is better than yours...then the seller's agent should come back to you and say "give us your highest and best". Basically, when you make an offer to the seller even if it is in is only an accepted offer if it is signed by the seller. Even if you and the seller are in negotiations over the are not "safe" until the paperwork is signed. This is why it is important when you make an offer to request a 24 hour reply from the seller too...this way you will have less chance of other buyers getting in there and submitting offers at the same time. I hope this information has helped you and good luck with your home hunting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Full agreement with everyone.

My instructor told me years ago, "If it's not in writing, then it never happened." There are only a few people left who can be beholden to their word alone. Always, always get things in writing. The hand shake in real estate is never a contract.

Terrence Charest, e-Pro
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Hi Lisa,

Well unfortunately unless your offer was in writing, it doesn't matter. In real estate everything must be in writing. Not to worry though. Just tell your buyer agent to put in an escalation clause into your agreement which means the other agent has to show you the other offer and then you have the right to increase your offer by a certain dollar amount. Your Realtor should know what an escalation clause is.

Please let me know what happens.

Renee Porsia
Associate Broker
(215) 669-0589 Direct
(215) 358-1100 Office Ask for Renee Read my latest blog
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Hi Lisa,

Unfortunatley, Unless the contract has been fully executed (meaning both the buyer and seller have signed the agreement of sale) the seller can change his mind.
I have been in the same situation, where my buyer and the seller negotiated an offer. The seller accepted it. I dropped of the contracts at the listing agents office with thed deposit check so the seller could sign. Before the seller signed another offer came in on the property. Then we had a "highest and best" and my buyer lost the home.

Good Luck! And I am sorry for your situation. Home buying can be a emotional roller coaster. On the postive side, its an amazing buyers market and I am sure you will find something even better!!

Tina D'Amato
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 7, 2009
Lisa, I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. Always get it in writing!

Julie Lozano
Prudential California Realty
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 6, 2009
I had a verbal acceptance on my house and like 4 hours later I get a call from my agent saying the seller "didnt mean to agree to the terms i asked for" so we had to go back to the drawing board. Needless to say, don't get your hopes up until its ALL in writing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 6, 2009
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