After a buyer and seller agree on a price, can the seller have an open house and accept another offer?

Asked by John, Thu Oct 4, 2007

I (buyer) have put an offer on a property and the price was negotiated until an agreement was reached and I paid a deposit. After, I learned that the seller is having an open house after my offer has been accpeted! Can the seller accept another offer?

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Ute Ferdig -…, Agent, New Castle, DE
Thu Oct 4, 2007
Hi John. Yes, the buyer can have an open house and continue to market the property until escrow closes. Once the property is in escrow, the property status should be changed to pending in the MLS, but pending is not the same thing as sold. Theoretically, the seller could even enter into two contracts for the sale of the house, but obviously he can only perform under one contract. Backup offers are usually not binding contracts and the buyer who is making the offer is only put in first position. If your escrow falls out, the seller would notify the first backup buyer and then the buyer would have to commit to the contract (at least that's how it's done in CA).
In the current market with many uncertainties about financing, sellers would be well advised to seek backup offers.
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Brett Dunne -…, Agent, Upland, CA
Fri Oct 5, 2007

If the Purchase Contract (in California) shows you as a contingent buyer (CAR Form COP) and the seller and you agreed to a 72 hour first right to perform, then without question they can still have an open houses and recruit offers.

If you have no Real Property to sell before you can buy (your purchase contingent on the sale or you property) then I would question if this activity was contractually agreed to. Even is this market today (S. Cal) I would question a listing agent’s motive for having an open house that my client (buyer) would soon own. Not saying is illegal because it isn’t but I would request the activity to stop.

Lastly, the listing agent has a fiduciary to the seller to obtain offers (Backup, Options or otherwise) until funding and recording has completed. If, as the listing agent, we got an offer without contingencies, then I would list the property on the MLS as “Backup” and continue to allow agents to show it to buyers. However, I would not conduct open houses. Remember, opinions are like noses most all have one.
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Pam Winterba…, Agent, Danville, VA
Fri Oct 5, 2007
Any offer would be accepted as a back up offer and yest they may continue to show for back up purposes.
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Perry Hender…, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Oct 4, 2007
They can take as many back up's as possible. Frankly, that's just good business for the seller.
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