Can a seller accept a conventional offer on a house that is listed as a cash only sale?

Asked by Amandakay, 75503 Mon Oct 24, 2011

My husband and I put in an offer on a local listing for asking price. We were declined and told that seller decided to only take cash offers. Two months later the house sold for 20,000 less via a conventional sale. Is this legal to deny our offer (we had a prequalification letter for more than we offered) and accept another offer after telling us cash only?

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Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Tue Oct 25, 2011
Sure it's legal.

At the time you made your offer, the seller was accepting only cash offers.

Sellers change their minds. They'll put a house on the market for $300,000, reject one offer for $280,000, then 3 months later accept an offer for $275,000. They'll get an offer contingent on the buyer selling an existing property and reject it. A few months later, with their house on the market, they'll get another offer contingent on the buyer selling a property . . . and accept it. They'll put a house on the market and, when it doesn't sell, they'll rent it.

It's legal for sellers to change their minds on what they consider an acceptable offer. (Once both parties have signed a contract, then they can't change their minds . . . to oversimplify. But without an agreement agreed to by both parties, mind-changing is par for the course.)

I agree with John that it would have made sense--once the sellers decided they didn't need an all-cash offer--for them to have contacted you and invited you to resubmit your offer. They may have figured that--months later--you would no longer be in the market. So it sounds as if the sellers made a number of strategic errors. But doing so isn't illegal.

Hope that helps.
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Bruce Lynn, Agent, Coppell, TX
Tue Oct 25, 2011
It's not only price that sells the house.
I personally think CASH offers are the most risky.
I've probably had more cash buyers not be able to come up with the cash, or not show up at closing, or bail at some point, vs financed buyers.
But there are some homes that can only go cash.....for example these days it is tough to get financing on homes that have structural issues.
This is frustrating sometimes when a seller won't take what you think is a good offer or great offer or at list price, but it happens.
There will be a better home at a better price out there for you, so keep after it, you'll find it.
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Guy Gimenez, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Oct 25, 2011
The seller can sell under whatever terms they choose, including who they sell to and how the home is sold. A seller is never required to accept any offer, even if the offer is full price or greater. Looks like the seller may have indeed shot themselves in the foot though if your facts are correct.
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Landon Huffer, Agent, Texarkana, TX
Tue Oct 25, 2011
Home buying can be very frustrating especially in instances like this. Unfortunately for you a seller's situation can change at any time. This sounds like the case in this instance. Even though it is aggravating I don't see that the seller did anything wrong, unless there is more to it. The seller's agent should have notified you or your agent that the owner would now take a conventional sale though. They really did a disservice to their client as you may have been willing to pay more.

There are a bunch of great houses out there. Just get back on the horse and put this one behind you and start looking again. I'm sorry this incident happened and wish there was something you could do.

Good luck! I hope you find an even better home and this whole deal will end up being a blessing.

Thank you.
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Phil Rotondo, Agent, Melbourne, FL
Tue Oct 25, 2011
As real estate agents we can't answer whether it's legal or not.
But it does appear that for one reason or another this was not meant to be.
Best to move on.
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John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Oct 24, 2011
The seller may have outsmarted themselves by turning your offer down and eventually having to settle for a lesser offer. I wonder why they did not call you and ask you to make another offer when it became evident that their strategy was not working out for them?

In any event, NO – it is not illegal for the seller to make a bad business decision in regard to declining you offer.

I hope that you have better luck in the future.
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Terry Bell, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Mon Oct 24, 2011
Well, you don't say how long it was between the time you made your offer and when it eventually sold. It's certainly not unusual for sellers to have high hopes and then find out that offers slipped through their fingers. It's more likely the seller's agent is to blame for not recontacting your agent when his clients changed their thinking. In any event the seller has the right to sell their house they way they want as long as it is not discrimination in any way by law.
Best, Terry Bell, Realtor, Santa Rosa, CA
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