Home Selling in Miami>Question Details

Nathan, Home Seller in Miami, FL

If a signed counter offer by seller is verbally accepted through agents but later it is determined it was never signed by buyer, is there a contract?

Asked by Nathan, Miami, FL Fri Oct 14, 2011

A relatively standard real estate contract was used that included the following language:
"If this offer is not signed by buyer and seller and delivered to buyer and seller or their respective broker (including FAX and electronically) on or before....., this offer will terminate. The time for acceptance of any counter offer shall be 48 hours from the time the counter offer is delivered. The date of acceptance of this Agreement shall be the date on which this agreement is last executed by buyer and seller and the fact of execution is communicated to the other party in writing."
In the current case, the buyer was apparently not aware of this clause that they must (?) sign the counter offer and their agent communicated acceptance verbally to the sellers agent who then communicated acceptance verbally to the seller. That the buyer never signed and delivered a signed counter offer was not discovered until weeks after both parties believed they had a valid contract in place.

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There is a basic rule. A contract needs to be signed and DELIVERED to be enforcable.

You had a verbal understanding and it can also be considered to be a contract. It just is not enforcable in my opinion. That is an opinion.

Debbie Albert, PA
Keller Williams of the Treasure Coast
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 16, 2011
Nathan, if you or your realtor accepted the counter offer verbally, legally it's not correct. But think, if you accepted, why use the excuse of not signed by both parties to cancelled? Remember this quote. A promise made is a debt unpaid. - If you accepted verbally, all you have to do when discovered that not documents were signed, was to sign and keep moving. What makes a person a gentelman is when he keeps his word.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
Good Afternoon Nathan,

Given I am not an attorney, I can not provide legal advise, but merely respond based on the years of experience in the real estate and mortgage banking business. What you have indicated if I understand correctly is that as the seller, you responded to an offer from a buyer and countered that offer with some changes to the initial offer. This was then communicated to the buyer and the buyer's agent indicated verbally that the buyer had accepted. The buyer's should have been in possession of your counter offer and had the buyer initial in the areas where you made changes to their initial offer. Only when all terms and conditions have been agreed upon, (any changes to the offer/counteroffer must be initialled by all parties) do you have an effective contract.

What you do not indicate here is whether the buyer is looking to walk away from this transaction? If they are still moving forward with the transaction, you and the buyer need to initial all areas that were changed and proceed to a sucessful closing. If the buyer did not initial the changes to your counter offer, then you do not have an enforcable contract, and they would have the ability to walk away. Clearly the realtors involved failed to ensure that buyer and seller initialled and/or signed the contract correctly. This will be something you will wish to discuss in great detail with your listing agent to ensure that any future offers (assuming you will be starting with a new buyer) be handled properly. Good luck with the sale of your home. If you should have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

Lila Lopez
RE/MAX Advance Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011

This is not intended to be legal advice but is presented as an personal opinion based on your information provided.

Simple stated, absent the signatures of all parties and delivery of the document, there is no executed contract. Verbal agreements are not enforceable and are generally not a legal commitment.

Good luck,

1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
All contract need be in writing .

NOTE: Unless a Realtor is involved in transaction no professional can render an opinion to many unknowns that require answers. OR confer with an attorney

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 16, 2011
I agree with Realtor Raisa, a person should "keep their word". Unfortunately some Buyers/Sellers/Realtors will try to get out of a contract on a technicality and may have "intentionally" not provided a signed update to a contract. This is the reason why I prefer working with VA Buyers, most are very loyal women and men "of their word". A "verbal" agreement is as good as gold.

Even a minimally experienced Realtor should know how crucial it is to get everything in writing to prevent a buyer from "changing his mind" or the case of a Seller, having a higher offer come in "after" the verbal offer was accepted.

I hope you were the "innocent" party in this unfortunate series of events.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 16, 2011
Hi Nathan!

As stated below: Signatures make it enforceable.

You could still purchase the home, but they could back out.

See if you can get that last signature!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
Sales contracts MUST be in writing, period.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
Neds tobe signed and delivered to be valid
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
Bottom line is without signatures your contract is not enforceable in Florida.

So put your house back to "active" status on the MLS if you do not have a "signed" contract. That action alone may motivate the buyer to "put it in writing" if they still want to buy your property.

Good luck!

PS If you're selling via Short Sale then the standard contract addendum has an easy escape clause for the buyer anyway.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
If I remember correctly, Florida law does NOT allow verbal real estate contracts. Any offer/counter offer must be signed or initialed by both parties in order for the contract to be binding. HOWEVER... if the contract was substantially executed - if both parties signed off on the contract, but in the back and forth a signature or initial was missed, but both parties proceeded AS IF the contract HAD been executed, then the buyer would not have a case to exit the contract. The exception would be if the clause had some substantive change that the buyer would not have agreed to. What I explain to my customers is "WWJD..." what would the judge do, if you had to try the case.
Here is an example: Florida contracts contain a clause that provides for the seller to deliver condo docs to the buyer within 3 days of the fully executed contract, and for the buyer to have three days to review, during which time the buyer can cancel the contract if something in the condo docs gives them pause. Suppose the seller does NOT deliver the condo docs in time. Let's say they deliver them 3 weeks late. The buyer never asks for them. The seller finally gives them to the buyer, and the buyer says "I am going to cancel." When asked why, they buyer says "because I have 3 days from when you deliver the docs to me." WWJD.... if there is nothing in the docs that would affect the buyer - nothing that caused concern or impacted the value of the condo, it is unlikely that the buyer woudl be able to use the three day rule to cancel, as they did not attempt to
enforce the provision of the contract in the first place.

Ultimately, if the buyer is trying to get out of the contract, you may have to sue for performance, and it may not be worth the effort. If the buyer's deposit is being held by the Realtor, you may be able to make your case before FREC in an escrow dispute, but your Realtor would be the one to discuss that with. You did use a Realtor, right???
Web Reference: http://www.myriamsHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 15, 2011
Standart contract? Far or Far/bar was used?
if an offer is not signed by buyer is not an offer.
If the offer is signed by buyer and seller is a contract.
If there is a counter offer from seller (still an offer and you have 48 hrs to response the counter offer)
At the time the buyer present the offer there is a period of time you should put in the blank space, if there is not a date or specifict amount of days, they can go back to you after few months and response your offer.
Fi after months they have missing signatures and one of the parties wants to walk away is free to do so, Since you are right there is not contract.
But you should contact your lawyer and find out a legal advise prior to continue the dispute.
Web Reference: http://www.soldbuyrent.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 14, 2011
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