Can my agent withhold offers? What can I do?

Asked by Mister Seller, Los Angeles, CA Tue Mar 16, 2010

My home was sold, but now I have learned a buyer put in a bid I never saw (higher amount). What recourse do I have? Can I force the realtor or agency to pay the difference? I'm in California.

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Bill Gassett’s answer
Bill Gassett, Agent, Hopkinton, MA
Mon Apr 19, 2010
It was a violation of the code of Real Estate ethics for the offer not to be presented to the seller. It is a requirement that all offers be presented. The listing agent is required to present all offers whether verbal or written. The agent could face disciplinary action if you report them.
1 vote
Susie Kay, Agent, Dallas, TX
Fri Oct 23, 2015
Your realtor has to present you whatever offer she/he receives regardless of the amount, terms etc. Was the higher offer received after you had an executed contract or before?

I would suggest that you talk to your agent's broker.
1 vote
Kevin and Ju…, Agent, Wildomar, CA
Tue Feb 25, 2014
This is an old question, but is relevant. The short answer is that your agent is required to bring you all written offers they receive.
1 vote
Hank Wilson, Agent, Bowling Green, KY
Mon Feb 24, 2014
No they most certainly can not withhold offers. This is most certainly a violation of the code of ethics. I have had this done to me in the past as a first time home seller and it ended up being an excuse because no offers were really coming in at all. Challenge them to prove to you that there are indeed offers. It is your decision to accept an offer or not.
1 vote
Sky Minor, , Los Angeles, CA
Thu Mar 18, 2010
Mister Seller,
This is a serious violation of the agents fiduciary duty to you. Ask the would-be buyer or their agent for copies of:
1: The Offer, in it's entirety. Pay attention to page two, as it outlines costs that the buyer requests you to pay. If they were giving you a high offer but then requesting tens of thousands of dollars back for closing costs/repairs/termite work, then your agent may have had good reason to not present the offer.
2: Their financing package. If they were approved by a bona-fide bank lender (Wells, BofA, Etc.) then they were legitimately pre-approved. Conversely if they had a prequal from a lender or broker you have never heard of, perhaps your agent didn't think they were able to obtain financing.
3: Their proof of down payment funds. As Cuba Gooding Jr. Would say "Show me the money". If they didn't show their down payment or didn't have enough, then they probably could not have closed anyway.

If you find that all three of these were present with the would-be buyer's offer, then you have a complaint against your agent. I would first discuss it with them, then their broker. If you don't get what you are looking for try the California Association of Realtors at 213-739-8350. If that doesn't work, go to the Department of Real Estate at Let me know how it ends up.
1 vote
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Thu Mar 18, 2010
Excellent answers here.
The truth is that unless you can obtain a copy of the offer, including supporting documents, such as proof of down payment funds and pre-approval letter,
1. It may not have been a bona fide offer
2. It may have been incomplete

I am curious, how did you find out? Who told you? What would they have to gain by telling you?
Sounds like sour grapes to me. If I could count the number of times agents promised me "I'll be submitting (a great) offer"....and nothing every shows up from them.
1 vote
In my case, my realtor withheld an offer b/c she had a dual agent opportunity so did not present a higher offer lest she lose the extra fee. I found out when a mutual friend made the offer that was not presented. They had nothing to gain but were friends. The suggested action against the realtor in hope sthat no one else would have a similar experience. I lost a lot of money because of it.
Flag Tue May 5, 2015
Laurie Manny, , Long Beach, CA
Wed Mar 17, 2010
All of the answers below have given you very sound and good advice, so I am going to play the devil's advocate here for a minute.
I haven't seen a listing that didn't require that loan approval and a copy of the earnest money check accompany the offers. Is it possible that the offer was incomplete and the buyer never supplied the rest of the information? That does happen sometimes. An offer without lenders approval or an earnest money deposit is worthless.

Many listings require that the buyer be pre-approved through the sellers choice of lenders before their offer is considered. Did your listing require that? Is it possible that they either didn't call the lender and become pre-approved? This would also constitute an incomplete offer, by your own standards, if it were required.

Courts can get very specific, you say you never 'saw' the offer. Did your agent mention to you that there was an incomplete offer awaiting further documentation, or if that documentation was received or not?

It is my opinion that you should talk to your agent. Ask them about the offer and see what they have to say.
1 vote
MC Griffin C…, Agent, Hollywood, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
It seems as if there could possibly be an Ethical and standard of Practice involved here:
The standard of Practice for listing Brokers/Realtors shall continue to submit to the seller/landlord all offers and counter-offers until closing or execution of a lease unless the seller/landlord has waived this obligation in writing. In other words, Realtors shall submit offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly as possible. Your recourse would be to contact DRE Commissioner of California, Jeff Davi in writing and explained in detail your complaint. The Department of Real Estate is consumer friendly and their job is to protect the public from any wrong doings relative to Real Estate. As a Real Estate professional, I'm apologize for any inconvenience you've experienced in this matter. However, taking the necessary steps to correct this is a good thing.
1 vote
Carlos Garcia, Agent, Miami Beach, FL
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Our job as agents is to guide you through the process.
Your agent shouldn't have withheld any offer from you. Call your Real Estate Attorney and contact the California Real Estate Commission. Remember that you'll have to show prove that your agent didn't inform you and give you that offer.
1 vote
Deborah Brem…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Hello Mister Seller;
Any offer IN WRITING must be given to the seller, to accept or reject, or to give a counter offer. If there is, in fact, a written offer on the property that was never disclosed to you, you have every reason to be upset. Even after the property is in escrow, offers should still be presented to you, for possible back-up status. There is a line for you to sign in order to reject an offer. If there is an outstanding offer, you should obtain a copy and consult a real estate attorney. In addition, it's a good idea to lodge a formal complaint with the California State Department of Real Estate, as well as your local Board of Realtors, to protect other consumers from falling vitim to this agent.
This is the reason you need a well-trained and ethical Realtor to represent you. I am so sorry you had a negative experience, and hope it can be resolved to your satisfaction.
Deborah Bremner
REALTOR, 00588885
Certified Short Sale Professional
Certified Home Retention Specialist
(D) 818.564.6591
Blogging at:
1 vote
Cassieross97, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Sat Sep 24, 2016
I recently but a bid on a house I was sad I was turned down real quick said cash offers where made more than asking I was walking with sister the people where outside I congratulated them on there sale GUESS what she had no idea and no one had told her there was any offers goes to short sale in 2 weeks I printed off our bid she verb lay agreed to my offer so what about the agent or what if the agent gives them a higher bid what can I do
0 votes
You've posted a reply to a thread that is more than 6 years old! You should post a new question instead. Your post shows you are in New York, NY. This is a CA section. If you mean to post in NY, you should switch sections. You should also clarify whether you have your own exclusive Realtor representing you. Best of luck!
Flag Sun Sep 25, 2016
Daniel Casti…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Nov 20, 2015
All offers must be submitted,

Please feel free to contact me anytime at (310) 584-7721
if you have questions.

Daniel Castiel
GoldStar Realty
(310) 584-7721
BRE #01023338
0 votes
Carchiee, Home Buyer, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Oct 23, 2015
My home was sold, but the buyer backed out after 15 days. My agent did not inform me of this for over 24 hours. I am in California, do I have any recourse?
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Mon Feb 24, 2014
I don't know the whole story, but my opinion from what you have shared, is that the offer wasn't good, even though it may have been higher. All offers are not created equal so my first instinct is that your Realtor was keeping you from wasting your time. On the other hand, it is customary to present all offers in the order received. Your Realtor could have easily explained why that particular offer should be ignored.
0 votes
Jennifer Ric…, Agent, Valencia, CA
Tue Mar 30, 2010
Mister Seller,

Was this a short sale or regular sale this makes a difference? If it was a short sale, it is treated like a regular sale in regards to how you receive offers. The only difference between a short sale and a regular sale is one contingency the short sale addendum, asking the back to approve the shortage. As with regular and short sales you received multiple offers within a short period of time all offers should be countered. With a short sale once an offer has been accepted by you, the seller of record, and sent to be processed by the negotiator all other offers presented would be put into back offer position if the first buyer cannot perform. The timing is everything as to when this offer may have come to your agents attention and the type of listing.

Jennifer Ricco CDPE, PSC
0 votes
Khrystyna Ch…, Agent, Downtown San Diego, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
It's illegal to do what yor realtor did.
They are required to submit every offer they get to you.
I would sue him for the difference.

Khrystyna Chorna
Prudential California Realty
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Irvine, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Your Agent should have presented all offers received and as the seller you have the choice which one to go with. Have you tried contacting your Agent? and confronting him with this matter. Before jumping to conclusions and speaking with an attorney or filing a complaint you may want to speak with your agent first to get his side. If your agent did not present all offers to you that in my personal opinion is very unethical and should not be tolerated especially when that could of been extra money in your pocket.

You may also try contacting the Agents Broker in this matter. Whatever you do, make sure you document everything precisely to save your behind if ever it goes to court. I'm sorry to hear what happened to you and hope everything works out in the end.

Web Reference:
0 votes
John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Your claim is a very serious one. If you can back it up…if you can prove your claim…please go for it. If your agent did what you allege, it appears that the agent violated ethical duties and fiduciary duties to you. If your agent is a Realtor, check with the local association about filing a complaint. Small claims court is another option. Check the website of the California Department of Real Estate for information about how to file a complaint. You can file a complaint with the DRE whether your agent is a Realtor or a licensee. If your agent is a realtor, you can also file a claim for breach of ethics that could result in a fine of punitive action against the agent.
0 votes
Trina Bentan…, Agent, Diamond Bar, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Unless it is a frivolous offer, no your agent can not withhold offers.
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
You can't force them to do anything, but a court can.
0 votes
Grant Linsco…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Mister Seller,

The agent cannot withhold the offer from you and has a duty to present it. Do you have proof that an offer was not presented? Ethically this is incredibly wrong and I'm sorry to hear if this is the case. I'd recommend consulting an attorney.

Grant Linscott
Keller Williams Realty
323.333.6222 cell
0 votes
Monique & Joe…, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Hello Mister Seller,

The seller is required to present all offers received to the seller. I would file a report with the DRE and also perhaps consult an attorney and go over the details as you may have recourse. Did the offers come in after you accepted the offer?

Monique Carrabba
The Carrabba Group
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills
(323) 899-2900
0 votes
Ron Rovtar, Agent, Boulder, CO
Tue Mar 16, 2010
An agent should never withhold an offer, even if it appears to the agent that the offer will be unacceptable to you. In the end, it is always up to the seller to decide about any offer. You can contact your state real estate commission, talk to a lawyer or simply make waves at the agents office. If you want financial relief, a lawyer is your best bet.

0 votes
Beth Fread, Agent, Wasilla, AK
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Dear Mr. Seller,

I'm in Alaska so the only answer I can knowledgeably give you is to say, "Call a local Real Estate Attorney". A reputable real estate attorney (one with a reputation that either a friend or close business associate is familiar) will probably answer your basic question without charging you anything.

Also, the local Board of Realtors can assist you in determining whether or not you have a viable grievance against this Realtor. Remember, timing is everything in contracts.
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Tue Mar 16, 2010
Agents should not withhold any offers--can you prove the offer was withheld--if so start by speaking to the broker owner of the realty company; if you wish you can also consult with an attorney.
0 votes
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