its like an arguemnet between two teenagers.
Do you think a verbal contract could, or would be taken seriously?
Do you not think that the Agent was playing you like a fiddle?
This has so many red flag in it, I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
Good luck and may God bless
At no time did you make a written offer.
At no time did you receive any real indication that another offer had been made.
At no time did you receive any real evidence that the siblings had rejected your verbal non-binding, non-enforceable non-offer.
Everyone's playing all cutesy with "Does this offer have a '2' in it?" [I'd have bid $185,222 just to say "There you go!"]
In the future, if you're interested in a property, make a written offer.
First of all, your offer should have been in writing to start with. An offer is not a legally binding contract unless it is in writing and signed by all parties. The listing agent can ask for the "highest and best offer" if multiple offers are received. However, there should be a final date/time that all offers should be submitted in order to be fair to all buyer parties. This back and forth is just not acceptable and should not be acceptable to you or your agent.
Also, when I am working with a buyer in your situation, I ask the listing agent for at least the first page of the contract showing the sale price as proof of a higher offer. But again, that is really an unfair way to go about this. He/She should not be pitting buyers against each other and going back and forth. It should be one shot and all buying parties should make their highest and best offer by a deadline and then those offers should be submitted to the seller to review and to acccept ONE offer or to reject them all. As a listing agent in this situation, I have had multiple offers and some were for the same price. The seller has to consider ALL aspects of the contract and chose the best offer based on all of the information. One buyer may have more money down and not have much to finance or paying in cash. In that case, the cash offer could be accepted over an offer that is being financed, even if that offer is lower as a cash deal is in most cases, a DONE deal.
Trying to purchase a property that a developer is interested in can be challenging to say the least as they may have the cash to close the deal or an open line of credit with a bank that does not require standard underwriting. Don't be "played" here. Make a written offer, state that it is your highest and best and move on if they do not accept. You never know, they may call you back later and say that the other party backed out and they would like to accept your offer if you are still interested. I have had that happen before and that is better than feeling like you are being "played". Good Luck!
1. It's foolish for an agent to lie about there being another offer, or to lie that you need to hit a specific number in order for your offer to be accepted. If there isn't another offer, or it isn't at that specific number, and you're scared away, the listing agent has nothing.
2. You can write an offer with a meet-or-beat clause, that says something to the effect of you'll pay as much or more than any other offer, so long as it's a valid offer and they show it to you. My MLS has this as a stock form; you may need an attorney's help with this.
3. My personal feeling is that it doesn't matter as much what other people think the property is worth as it matters what YOU think the property is worth. It's great to play the game of, "If I could get it for 'X,'" but the risk is that you might actually GET IT for "X!". So you should know what it's worth to you before you start talking price, and then figure out how to get there (or better).
All the best,