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Exceptions for Accepting

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Posted On: 07/14/2010

QUESTION:

If an offer is given for the asking price does the seller have to accept it?

ANSWER:

With some cautions, no.

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At first it might seem as though a full-price offer from a ready, willing and able buyer must be accepted, but that may not be the case. The reason is this: When you say a property is for sale you want an offer that meets a variety of requirements - not just price.

For instance, imagine that you want $495,000 for your home. An offer comes in at that price, but it also requires a 3-percent seller contribution and a new washer and dryer. That "seller contribution" is actually a discount, and you have not offered your home at a reduced value. The washer and dryer are additional conditions and, in a way, another form of discount.

In effect, a "full-price offer" may meet one owner's requirement but not other's. An offer that does not meet all seller terms is really a counter-offer, which owners may accept, reject or counter themselves.

However, the sale of a home is complex. Did you use a broker? When is the broker entitled to compensation? Many listing agreements say that a broker's work is done when a "ready, willing and able buyer" is found who will pay a certain price for the property or such lesser amounts as the seller may accept. This means you can have a situation where both an offer that meets the terms of the listing agreement is rejected and a broker who is still owed a commission.

A seller's goal is not to find a buyer but instead sell the property. The result is that some owners agree to pay a commission only upon the "sale and settlement" of the property. In other words, no commission is due unless the property is actually sold. For specifics, speak with a broker or attorney.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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