Is there recourse if a seller holds out on signing offers to give acquaintances opportunity to match?

Asked by Mandelson49, Antelope, CA Tue Jun 12, 2012

I put an offer on a house that was up for short sale. The offer was for asking price and was the first offer at the time of placing. A few weeks passed without the seller signing until I found out the seller had signed with another buyer. As I wasn't given the opportunity to counter offer or now why the other offer was better I did some investigating and found the price of the property had dropped a number of time before my offer and the the accepted offer was matching mine. So it appears the seller had an friend and waited for the price to drop and the first offer time come in, once the first offer came in they sat on this offer to give the friend time to submit their offer. This does not seem fair, but is this legal and is there recourse?

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Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Tue Jun 12, 2012
This is a common type of post on Trulia..." I made an offer. It did not get accepted. So there must be hanky panky, otherwise my offer would have been accepted." or something along that line.

Also asking for recourse or compensation when there are no money damages. That one is common too.

I usually tell people to move on the next house, and forget the big fish that got away.

I don't see this as a law enforcement issue. If you want to be the cop and have hard evidence of wrongdoing then you can present it to the authorities. If you don't have solid, hard evidence that could presented in a court of law, it reads like sour grapes.

Citizen opinion - not a legal opinion.
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Sue Archer R…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Tue Jun 12, 2012
There is no law that was broken, nor way to compet a seller to accept your offer even if it appears (form your viewpoint) that you offered a better price/terms than others.

However, from a practical standpoint, most lenders review a short sale and include an arms length agreement in their paperwork. The seller and buyer, as well as agents, are required to sign that there is no outside agreements, nor relationship or personal affiliation between any parties to the transaction. Of course they could sign this and commit fraud (if they really do know each other) but they may not be aware of the conditions of the short sale.

One last ditch attempt might be to have your agent call the listing agent to remind them of this stipulation for approving most short sales. It may be that the seller is not aware of it and change their mind as to whose offer is accepted.
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Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Tue Jun 12, 2012
Unfortunately the seller has the right to accept which ever offer they want. They are still the owner's of the property and can choose who they want. The listing agent is only obligated to present all overs. Though its frustrating there is nothing you can do.
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Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Tue Jun 12, 2012
Just what law do you propose that the Seller has broken?
Assuming that you had a (hypothetical) 72 hours response time written in the offer; all that would do is make your offer invalid after 72 hours. And this aside from the fact that the Seller has little input in saying which offer gets accepted; it is really up to the Bank.

And if you were the Seller, and you had two identical offers, and one of them was from an friend, wouldn't you want to funnel that offer to the bank for approval.

In a Multiple Offer situation, particularly on a Shortsale; there are a million reasons why you would not get the property; at least a million! Now, there are a million and one.

I suggest you move on and look for another house.
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