I’ve had a couple of recent calls inquiring about the correct process for multiple offers. There’s a lot of confusion on the way that consumers think they should be handled as opposed to what Michigan real estate law says. Here is what the Michigan Association of Realtors (MAR) has to say about multiple offers.
· License law requires all offers to be forwarded by a licensee to seller. After the offers are delivered the seller may consider them in any order he or she desires.
· The buyer's agent is generally prohibited from contacting the seller who is represented by another agent.
· There is no requirement that a seller must reject an offer in writing or even acknowledge receipt of the offer. A seller can accept, reject or counter an offer. Or the seller can choose to do nothing, or sit and wait for a second offer.
· A buyer can request that a seller respond in writing but the seller has no legal obligation to do so.
· There is no requirement on multiple offers that a seller treat each potential buyer equally or fairly (except for the protected categories under the Fair Housing Act which are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin).
· Any material change to a counteroffer is a rejection and becomes a counteroffer back to the other party (true for all offers-not just multiple offer situations).
· A seller is not required to take the highest offer, but could actually take a lower offer based on terms or cash.
· The seller can disclose the amount of the offers to none, some or all of the other potential buyers.
· A seller can offer one buyer an opportunity to submit another bid, without offering the other buyers a similar opportunity.
· An offer cannot be accepted orally. You do not have a binding contract until the written acceptance is delivered to you (or your agent).
· An offer or counteroffer can be revoked at any time before it is accepted (even if it contains an expiration date).
· An offer can be revoked orally.
· A seller is not required to accept a full price and terms offer.
Most prospective home buyers believe that a response is required by the seller, and that if they get their offer in first that they are ‘first in line’. Neither is true. Remember that this is based on Michigan Real Estate Law. Laws in other States may vary. To see MAR's primer on mulitple offers, click this link.
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