There is no such thing in California Real Estate Law that recognizes a "verbal offer" as one that can be acted upon. And its a good thing too. Think about it... lets say you make a verbal offer to purchase a home, the seller accepts your offer, again verbally, and they ask you for a deposit which you give them to get things rolling. Then, nothing happens and you start to get antsy so you contact the seller and ask when they are going to finish the sale and give you the house, and they say "what sale"?
What sale indeed. With no paper trail you can't prove that you are entitled to anything other than the opportunity to give away your money. If you are truly desirous of purchasing this home, you need to contact a Realtor to represent you and help you to craft a legal written offer. And don't worry, hiring a Realtor to represent you as a buyer won't cost you anything but could save you a bundle.
Good luck with your transaction, I hope once you get things down on paper (where they should and need to be) all goes well.
Take care and have a wonderful day!
Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, IVPG
When you submit your offer, you'll tender the offer with a modest initial earnest money check, indicating your sincerity, and your "written" offer will outline all contingencies... (ie: the closing date, if you're going to get a mortgage, how much money you'll put down on your loan, what interest rate you anticipate asking for, if you'll do an inspection and by what date, if you'll have the contract reviewed by an attorney and if so- by what date... you get the idea)...
Once the seller has had a chance to review the full terms of your contract, hopefully they'll treat it more seriously and respond.
1. have a talk with your realtor (I've had problems with getting realtors to write offers myself - most likely it is because they think your offer is too low and not going to be considered, so they are not going to waste their time writing it up) that you want all offers made in wrtting.
2. Ask your realtor iwhat they think is a fair offe and do a reality check.
3. As I said all offers to be legally binding in RE must be in writing. This protects both parties. For instance, if you made a verbal offer and the seller verbally accepted, he/she could back out anytime up until it was in writting and so could you---how frustrating would that be?
You should just ask the seller, "whats it gonna take?" it will probably save you a lot of time... Your agent suggested a "verbal"? Nothing against them, but that move speaks volumes...
Also, I wanted to respond to 'Jonathon James' - this board is for advice/questions, so if a particular question seems 'ridiculous' to you, then feel free not to put your two cents in - but you definetely do not need to be so rude. Thanks to everyone else for your imput.