Interesting issue . . . I made an offer on a house. The seller made a counteroffer. My agent told the

Asked by Matthew, Little Rock, AR Tue May 6, 2008

seller that we would be making a counter of that counteroffer. The seller's agent then tells my agent that he received another offer. Because there was no revocation of the seller's original counteroffer, and it had not expired, we signed it and delivered it. Now the seller's agent says revocation of the seller's counter offer was implied. The only writing is a signed and executed counteroffer. I have a deal . . . right?

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Larry Humes, Agent, Bellingham, WA
Tue May 6, 2008
Unfortunately, you don't necessarily have a deal. The seller can receive and accept another offer while the seller's counter offer is in your hands. The question may come down to "receipt" - the actual moment in time (sometimes a fax time stamp) that the seller's agent received the first completely counter-signed offer. If you signed the seller's offer and faxed it to the seller's agent, (and have a fax confirmation of that fact) before you received a rescission of the seller's counter (on paper, out of your fax machine), then you could still have a deal. Get all of your fax confirmations in order, and then have your agent confront the seller's agent - and if necessary bring in your attorney - but once you do that, you're in for the long haul (& $), and it may be better to just find another house.
1 vote
UnKnown, , Alaska
Tue May 6, 2008
In Arkansas, ALL THINGS involving real estate MUST BE reduced to writing. It is in the Original contract you sent and they countered.
However, the seller cannot counter a counter. They have to draw up an entirely new contract.

CYA. Consult Your Attorney on this one, but I think you are right. Call a local real estate attorney and see if you have a case. If you do, have your real estate agent contact the broker and let them know that you have a legal opinion stating you are right and that you would like to avoid a law suit.

Good luck to you! Please post a follow up and let us know how this one goes!
2 votes
Tim, , Boston, MA
Tue May 6, 2008
Great news Matthew.

Always great to hear someone getting the house they want, and in this market it is great to hear that multiple people had serious interest in a property.
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1 vote
Matthew, Both Buyer And Seller, Little Rock, AR
Tue May 6, 2008
Thanks for everyone's responses. We got the house! More importantly we got it for significantly less than the competing offer. We did, in fact, get the signed and executed counteroffer to the listing firm BEFORE expiration of the counteroffer, before they could revoke, and before they accepted another offer. We consulted an attorney, relayed our attorney's opinion up the chain, and everything worked out perfectly. We got the home we wanted, at a price we wanted, and the seller got a non-contingent contract.

Thanks for everyone's assistance. You all certainly gave GREAT advise!
1 vote
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Tue May 6, 2008
I agree with Ray. Consult an attorney. I'm not an attorney, but you may have a good argument. Especially since the seller agent's explanation is that the seller's counter "was implied." No. In real estate nothing is "implied." To be enforceable, it must be in writing. If the seller presented you a counter and it hadn't expired, and you accepted it, then (to at least this non-lawyer) it appears you have a contract.
1 vote
Eric Pinter, Other Pro, Little Rock, AR
Tue May 6, 2008
i'm not an attorney, but i would agree with you.
as per arkansas law, EVERYTHING must be done in writing.
when the law says EVERYTHING, it means EVERYTHING.
there is nothing implied.
if you did not receive written notice of a withdrawal of their counter, then you should still have the option to accept the counter before it expired.
if you think it's worth it, i'd pursue the deal.
0 votes
Anni Tiemann, , 85635
Tue May 6, 2008
I have to agree with the Seller's agent, He was informed you were going to counter the counter and a counter offer can be withdrawn at any time.
0 votes
Helmer Zapata, Agent, Union, NJ
Tue May 6, 2008
I love this question. I am not an attorney but it is common for a seller to cherry pick between offers. I am sorry to say that only until a deal is out of attorney review, can anyone determine if there is in fact a deal. A seller can choose to drop all negotiations for no reason at all certainly before attorney review.

The good news is that you can bump out the accepted offer out of attorney review by a much appealing counter offer from your part. What your agent could do is try to find out if the seller will consider offers during attorney review and take it from there. Also try to find out if the offer is from another office (cooperating office) or from the listing office. These questions will help you determine if is worth pursuing the property further.
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