Home Buying in New York>Question Details

Josh Greensp…, Home Buyer in New York, NY

Selling agent sending out another contract?

Asked by Josh Greenspan, New York, NY Wed Mar 6, 2013

If the seller has accepted an offer and the contract is in hand for the buyer, is it legal for the seller's agent to issue a different contract to another buyer (while the first buyer is reviewing terms, etc.)?

Help the community by answering this question:


Joseph Hastings’ answer
I've enjoyed this question. It really has legs! Great to see all brokers are on the same page and buyers well, they still seem to see things only from their prospective.

It would seem Mr. Ramirez understands only one half of the offer process, from a buyers point of view. The listing broker is being absolutely professional by making sure he gives every and any offer to his clients, in this case, the seller.

People do lose out when they take their time and let's face it, the buyers aren't reviewing anything. In New York state an Attorney is required to but real property and Coops. The due diligence is the province of the buyer's Attorney.

I will say losing out on a property will make any buyer quicker to respond the next time around. That is because they now know nobody is waiting on them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 10, 2013
Hi, In NEW YORK it is not, nothing is binding until there is a fully executed contract between buyer and seller. Sounds like the seller wants to see who will perform quicker.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
The universe rewards those who act quickly.

The agent who allows you to 'sit' on an offer is providing faulty guidance.
Your agent must encourage you to be decisive AND position you to be competitive.

Even FULL PRICE offers can and do get kicked to the curb if not strategically positioned.
Offers of 110% of list can get kicked to the curb if loaded with exits.
That is the reality as it played out just yesterday, as buyers who were poorly represented are today wondering, "What happened?" Their agent has some explaining to do.

Josh, if you are serious about making a home purchase, you need to stop second guessing your agent.
Be decisive.
Be competitive
Be strong.
Be rewarded.

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
If you are the buyer and this is the property for you, why haven't you signed the contract, and why not ask your attorney the question....until an executed contract exists, signed by all parties and deposit money exchanged, the seller is free to do as he/she wishes...again if this is the property for you, sign the contract and make sure it's immediately sent back to the other side...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Referring to the statute of frauds, a contract is not enforceable in the court of law unless it is in writing and signed by the contracting parties.

The seller's agent's actions is not illegal. His/her duty is to get the best terms and conditions for the seller.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Hi Josh,

Yes, It's perfectly legal. A seller can negotiate with several buyers simultaneously and send out multiple contracts. Until a contract is fully executed (signed by both buyer and and seller) neither has any legal obligation toward the other.

Unfortunately In NY, offers, counter offers and accepted offers don't mean much and are not legally binding because they are not contracts.

The market is hot. There is very little inventory in Manhattan. A buyer needs to be ready and prepared to sign contract. Until contract is fully executed there is always the possibility of another buyer making a higher and better offer.

When a second buyer makes a higher or better offer the seller through their agent will often give the first buyer a chance to match the second buyer's offer. When there are multiple bids often there will be another chance for all buyers to submit their highest and best offer. However, it's not required and a seller can accept what ever offer they want.

A seller's agent has a fiduciary duty to seller, to get seller the highest and best offer but in dealings with buyer, a seller's agent should (a) exercise reasonable skill and care in performance of agent's duties; (b) deal honestly, fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to agent materially affecting the value or desirability of property.


Mitchell Hall
Senior Associate Broker
The Corcoran Group
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Mitchell Hall, Real Estate Pro in New York, NY
No, it's completely unfair for the 1st buyer, but contractor have to give some time in which the customers should reply, else he can offer to anyone. If this is the situation, the yes he can. But, without giving some time to buyer, if he is offering to someone else, then it is not professional.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 9, 2013

The listing agent's role is to secure the highest possible price in the least amount of time. If the seller accepts an offer,but the buyer is still in the review process and the offer has not been fully executed, they are well within their right to submitt another offer to the seller, should one come in.

If you want this home counter back with your BEST and FINAL OFFER, ASAP.

Best of luck to you.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
As Elena said below, a contract is not binding until it has been countersigned by the seller. They may be hedging their bet but how do you know there is another contract out? If there is indeed another contract out what occured to make that happen? If the listing broker has a good offer and all other things are basically equal, it would make me wonder about you. What are you not telling us?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
There is no binding agreement until the contract is signed by both parties. It is the seller's market in NYC now, and if you want this property, you better put some serious pressure on your attorney to finish reviewing the contract and arrange for signing. It is unclear from your question how long the contract was out for. Normally the sellers allow some reasonable time before sending another contract out after they have accepted an offer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
It sounds as if the listing agent advised your agent that they are accepting another offer and sending out a contract to the new buyer. The listing agent notified your side in some way, so that agent did his job correctly.

Usually these situations happen when the contact language or terms are being disputed in some way. If the seller found. A buyer is willing to accept their tens, the seller has every right to engage that buyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013

It is comletely legal for the seller's agent to issue a contract to another buyer. The seller's broker has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller and is working for them.

In New York where there is so little inventory, your attorney should have reviewed your contract right away and had you sign it. Until a contract is signed you do not have a deal.

You should be working with an experienced buyer's broker and an attorney who is experienced in New York City Real Estate condos and coops. You should sign your contract immediately or try to match the other offer the seller received and sign that contract immediately.

If for any reason you lose the home to another seller, be sure that your next contract is reviewed and signed right away.

Good luck,

Ross Ellis
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Member of Real Estate Board of New York
212.317.7828 direct
770 Lexington Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10065
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Absolutely. The Sellers agent is working for the Seller not you. Verbal means nothing in real estate only what is written and signed. You should have reviewed the standard contracts before you ever made your offer so that you already understood them. You should also be working with a buyers agent as by your question you've clearly indicated you don't know exactly what your doing (which is common and to be expected) and you're working with the Sellers agent which already puts you at a significant disadvantage.

If you want this home, sign the contract, though I'm not really certain that you should. What I'm certain of is you're contemplating a huge financial decision without someone in your corner to advise you and offer counsel. My own thoughts would be that you need to get yourself an experienced buyer broker first, let this house go and start off properly. IN my opinion you have the cart before the horse.

I've attached a link below on how to find a great buyer broker regardless of where you live.

I hope things turn out for the best.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
I would be signing yours right away. I wouldn't be messing around for days "reviewing" the contract. If you have taken 3 or 4 days to "review" then shame on you. Sign the PA if you want the house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Yes, you are right. i am totally agreed. buying should be confidential.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
The issue is, a seller can only truly have accepted an offer when they've signed it and delivered it back to you. Verbally agreeing is impossible to prove or enforce. If you have a signed deal, then only back up offers can arrive next. The seller can't sell the same house more than once.
If you have a counter offer in hand that the seller has signed, they can withdraw that any time prior to you signing and returning it. Don't waste too much time on your review, in Real Estate; time is of the essence, which means get it done quickly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 6, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer