canceled offer....sued by buyer - Posted by Margaret

Posted by Natalie-VA on July 24, 2007 at 12:58:33:

When they dink around and play games before the contract is even ratified, that’s a sure sign of the way the rest of the transaction will go. It’s probably best you got rid of them.


canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Margaret

Posted by Margaret on July 21, 2007 at 19:00:17:

We received an offer for our house, we counter offer it and the buyer verbally agreed to new price but delivered the signed contract the next day. In the mean time weâ??ve received a new offer. Our agent called the agent (from the first deal) and left a message about the cancellation of the first offer. Then we executed the second offer. After the agent (from the first offer) learned about our decision, he brought to us (sellers) signed offer and said the deal has been fully executed and we cannot sell the house to other people. Now they are suing us for the difference in price. Does the first buyer have a case? Do I have rights to cancel NOT fully executed offer? Does verbal agreement bonds the deal immediately? This is urgent, please HELP!

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by BR

Posted by BR on July 25, 2007 at 12:58:08:

I have not read the other comments but when I counter an offer I always include what I call a drop dead date, ie. If this counter offer is not accepted and delivered by 5:00 PM 12-12-12 this contract is void.

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Natalie-VA

Posted by Natalie-VA on July 23, 2007 at 19:07:59:


First, the question is, did you have a ratified contract? (Executed really isn’t the right word.)

You received a lot of different answers, and some of them have been wrong. Listen to BTI and Nike. They don’t have to deliver the signed contract back to you in order to be a ratified contract. They just have to communicate to you (or your agent) that it’s been accepted and signed off on. In order not to have a ratified contract, your agent should have withdrawn your counter offer prior to receiving the communication that they had agreed to and signed off on it.

So, the open question is, when their agent told your agent that they accepted your counter, did they actually sign off on it at that time? It might be hard to figure out unless the agents did their jobs and documented all the communication.


Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Jack

Posted by Jack on July 23, 2007 at 07:02:02:

They have actually filed a lawsuit and served you with a Complaint? Or have they just hired an attorney to threaten you? I would guess the former, but am not going to attempt an answer without knowing. Though I do agree with JT and Eric.

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Eric in FL

Posted by Eric in FL on July 22, 2007 at 19:17:25:

In the world of naive real estate attorneys this is the classic bluff. Simply respond with a letter that states their offer was not accepted because it was not in writing and signed and if they feel the need to file suit that you will counter sue for all legal fees you incur and any other expenses. This will go away real quick. You typically see these kind of threats from ambualance chasers (please don’t think I believe you are an ambulance) or a very new friend of the family attorney who graduated from law school two weeks ago. A tenured attorney will know immediately a verbal offer is a “he said, she said” case and not waste their time. And if they cal you I would simply say, “Please feel free to take any actions you would like but your verbal offer was rejected. Any other correspondence should be directed to XYZ attorney.” You will never hear from them again.

Best Regards,
Eric in FL

by buyer - Posted by Nike

Posted by Nike on July 22, 2007 at 06:39:58:

Was your counter-offer in writing? If not, there’s no contract. The buyer needs to sign the contract and communicate to you (or your agent) that he has accepted—once signed and communicated there’s a binding contract and you may not revoke the offer. Delivery of the signed contract is not required to create a binding contract. What’s your agent telling you?

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Clark Kent

Posted by Clark Kent on July 22, 2007 at 03:41:19:

You said you made a counter offer to the 1st Buyers. The implication is that you made a WRITTEN counter offer to the 1st Buyers.

If you made a WRITTEN counter offer to the 1st buyers, then what was the time frame that you gave them to respond?

If they responded within the time frame, then they have a case. If not, then they don’t.

If everything was done verbally, that’s a problem from the git go. That’s why its not good to do stuff verbally becaus there’s too much room for people to misunderstand or back out.

How would you feel if you were in their shoes…?

I’m not saying they have a case in that scenario, but a judge or (God forbid) a jury (i.e. expensive) could be sympathetic…

How much money is it worth it to fight them in court? You may end up paying them a settlement to avoid legal costs, if they actually file a suit, IRRESPECTIVE of who’s right or wrong.

The reality is, sometimes changing your mind, or not having your agreements in writing can be costly either way you slice it.

I hope you can find a peaceful, inexpensive, resolution.

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by BTI

Posted by BTI on July 21, 2007 at 20:58:22:


Don’t know what state your in, but here is how it works in mine. Buyers agent presents you with an offer, you counter it, Buyers agent gets Buyer to sign it and communicates acceptance back to you even though you didn’t get a signed copy delivered to you yet, you now have a binding contract.

However if you cancelled your counter offer prior to the Buyers signing the contract and acceptance being communicated back to you, you don’t have a binding contract so in that case the Buyers are out of luck.

The big question is when did you actually cancel the first deal and how.


Up until the minute that they deliver - Posted by JT-IN

Posted by JT-IN on July 21, 2007 at 20:24:26:

The signed counter offer back to you, or your agent, you can rescind the previously agreed to counter offer… No if’s, and’s or buts about it.

What would be best… when withdrawing an un-executed counter offer, would be to have some form of a time-stamped document, like a telegram stating that you rescinded this previous agreement, and precisely when. A time-stamped fax would work as well. Maybe even an email, if you had a confirmation that they read the email, and when it was received and read.

No such thing as a verbal acceptance of an offer or counter offer. RE contracts are in writing, period. No signature, no contract. You may have to play hardball here, but you are well within your rights to have sold the house to someone else prior delivery and receipt of the accepted counter offer.

I would have an Attorney fire off a letter to them letting them know that IF they attempt to interfere with this deal that you WILL file a suit for damages, “Tortuous Interference of a Contract”, the contract you have with your new buyer, and you WILL be collecting damages for same. Their claim for 20K is worthless. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it at all.


Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by ken

Posted by ken on July 21, 2007 at 19:50:16:

Assuming you had a clause for attorneys approval just have your attorney send a letter to their attorney telling them he is not accepting the contract

contract law… - Posted by lukeNC

Posted by lukeNC on July 21, 2007 at 19:20:52:

I aint no attorney, but:

In most states a verbal acceptance of an offer doesnt stand when dealing in real estate sales.

But, if you signed the counter offer and then they sent it back signed you could have some complications.

If it were me, I’d be calling an attorney next week.

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on July 23, 2007 at 19:40:02:

Hi Natalie. This has been an interesting thread for me because, while I
don’t know the details of what makes an accepted contract or not in
my state, I assumed it was as you posted–that communication of
acceptance of counter would validate a contract (or ratify it, as you put

If that isn’t so, I’ve been doing it all wrong. More than once I have had
buyers make an offer (in writing) and accept my counter (verbally).
While I’m either waiting for a fax or preparing a new contract for the
agreed upon purchase price, I get a better offer. Funny how that
happens. I never dreamed that I could back out of my previous offer–
Sometimes the better offers were a LOT better, and still I thought I was
bound by the original buyers verbal acceptance of my counter. Of
course, if they hadn’t provided a signed contract and deposit to escrow
in a timely way (per the contract), then there would be no deal.

Since I work mostly without agents, I really should look into the details
of how it works here. Thanks for the motivation. Kristine

Re: contract law… - Posted by Margaret

Posted by Margaret on July 21, 2007 at 19:38:33:

TXS! They did deliver the signed contract right away after they learned we have canceled the deal. They beg us NOT to sign it yet. We left them a message about the cancellation, but I am afraid this may not be a solid proof…at least they think so and still are asking us to cancel the other offer (which was fully executed) IF NOT they put a lien on the property. They want $20,000 for damages…

Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by BTI

Posted by BTI on July 23, 2007 at 21:35:28:


My response was based on the way it is in California.

Look at it this way, first all contracts for the purchase of real estate need to be in writing.

When the buyer presents you with an offer to buy and you counter it, you have cancelled/rejected the buyers offer. With the counter you are now making an offer to the buyer and until he accepts it in writing there is no contract, and even if he signs it he still has to let you know he has accepted it before you cancel your offer.

So in your case having a verbal acceptance of your counter is the same as a seller giving a verbal acceptance of a buyers offer, there is no contract and either one of you could easily back out without consequence.

However I feel you operate the way I was brought up which is my word is more important then a piece of paper and I wouldn’t even consider welching on my word.


Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on July 23, 2007 at 21:52:00:

Actually, in this kind of situation it’s less about my word and more
about the golden rule. If I make an offer, seller counters, I accept and
then I’m busy signing a new agreement or trying to fax a new
contract…I’m going to be flaming mad that they “accepted a different
offer in the meantime.” Meantime of what? They stated the price they
would accept–until something better comes along?

My experience has been that the same people that would change their
verbal agreements are the same ones that try to get out of their written


Re: canceled offer…sued by buyer - Posted by Natalie-VA

Posted by Natalie-VA on July 24, 2007 at 07:20:33:

“My experience has been that the same people that would change their verbal agreements are the same ones that try to get out of their written agreements.”

I totally agree with this. The original poster should probably have stuck with the deal she agreed to, whether it was ratified or not.

On another note, I haven’t had to many issues (even during the seller’s market) with honoring my verbals. When I agree to a counter, and the other agent says, “Do we have a contract?” I respond, “Not until it’s ratified in writing.” I had no intentions of going back on my word, but I found that the buyer’s agent would get lazy and not complete the paperwork in a timely manner if I didn’t give them a good reason to get on it.

I don’t take on clients anymore (I’m a Broker), but when I did, my job was to get my seller the best deal. I once had to withdraw a counter before it was ratified because my seller got a better offer. The other agent was royally PO’d, and I felt badly, but I had to represent my seller. Sounds like the poster’s agent was trying to get her seller a better offer, but didn’t have a clue how to handle it. You’ve got to document everything.


The other agent was royally PO’d - Posted by JT-IN

Posted by JT-IN on July 24, 2007 at 11:49:07:

PO’d at “who”…? The wrong person. I have seen this oh so many times, where a buyer or an Agent will dink around and play games, until they lose the dang property, then they are PO’d… Big whoop. They just need to look in the mirror and be PO’d at the right person.

I am dealing with one RIGHT NOW, as I peck this in… Tried to tell them what to write in the offer, they didn’t listen. We jacked around verbally for a couple of days, in the middle of this, low and behold another player enters the arena. Within my rights as a seller, I informed the newest entrant that we were countering an offer back and forth; (of course their counter to me laid dormant, with no returned response). The new party respected that, and laid a respectable, solid offer, nearly full price, on the table, and it is now accepted.

The first clown is trying to say that they would have done the deal… Well, you didn’t do the deal when you had the chance, and now the rest is history. Cry, cry, cry, and who are they PO’d at…? Me of course. They feel like since they were in the process that they should have somehow received preferential treatment. Duh, go away and learn how to play the game.

Anyway, this just struck a nerve about the Agent being PO’d… Weakness is what I call that. They need to understand who is responsible for what, and take control of their client, sit them down and splain the facts of RE investing to them, then write their BEST offer. Or else find someone else to be PO’d at, when it doesn’t work out for them… LOL

Sorry for the rant.