Can A Seller Shop My Offer to Other Buyers?

My buyers often ask me: will the seller shop my offer around? That is, will they try to solicit more buyers using the existing offer as bait? The seller definitely has this option, but doesn’t always avail of it. To understand the issue better, let’s talk about how the offer process works.

Your Offer is the Seller’s Property

Like it or not, that’s the way it is. Until both parties sign off on all the offer terms, the document is not confidential. The seller could post it on their Facebook wall if they wanted to. So the seller authorizes how the offer should be used. Usually the listing agent would guide this part of the process, so it really depends on their work style.

Some agents will reach out to anyone who’s viewed the property recently and let them know an offer has come in. However, they won’t divulge any details. This way the other buyers won’t know what terms they have to beat and may offer more than they would have otherwise.

Some agents will give some indication what the current offer is and suggest ways to compete (free rent back, shorter closing date, etc.).

And some agents will play dirty, pitting offers against each other and tantalizing both the buyers and their Realtors. But usually what goes around comes around. Reputation is huge in real-estate and very soon such players will find it increasingly difficult to do business.

So what are a few ways to discourage a seller from shopping your offer?

Don’t Jump the Gun

Often a seller will set a deadline for offers. If the deadline is a few days away, I’d advise my buyer to get the offer ready, but not send it over until just before the cut off. This way the seller won’t have much time to approach other buyers.

Of course, the risk is that someone comes in with an amazing offer that the seller simply can’t refuse. Those deadlines are not binding and the seller can accept an offer before it if they want to. It depends though. Sometimes one amazing offer makes the seller think: wow, there must be more great offers coming in, let’s wait.

The possible scenarios are almost endless, so I wouldn’t spend too much time hypothesizing.

Make Your Offer Count

Usually a seller resorts to shopping an offer around if they aren’t very happy with the offer in hand. It’s understandable, they want a good deal for themselves. So unless you think the property is terribly overpriced for its location, condition, etc., maybe just go ahead and offer a fair price. Especially if you like it a lot. Most houses in our area sell pretty close to asking price. Why risk missing out on your perfect home while trying to squeeze a few thousand from the seller?

Having written dozens of offers, I’ll be happy to share my experience and war stories. Just drop me a line below:

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