One of the common Buyer questions we at The Art of Real Estate Team hear is, "How long does the Seller have to respond to my offer?"
Here in Northern Virginia, the answer depends on the contract that you submit. The standard Sales Contracts used in our area (largely the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS' "Residential Sales Contract") typically do not have a specified time-frame by which the Seller must respond to an offer to purchase.
In fact, when a Seller lists their home for sale, it is considered 'an offer to make an offer', or, in other words, a solicitation that the Seller wishes to sell the home, but there is no defined legal or statutory obligation to actually sell. Therefore, any offer(s) received - - even if at full price or over the asking price - - do not obligate the Seller to respond in any way.
So, a Seller is free to take their time to consider and evaluate any offer(s) received. Sellers may choose to do so if they feel that additional (potentially better) contracts are about to be presented - - assuming that the offer(s) "in hand" so far do not meet the Seller's desired goals.
However, it may or may not be in the Seller's best interests to wait to respond.
Many a Seller has waited in the hopes of getting another 'better' offer, not only to see that not materialize, but to have the current offer(s) withdraw their interest in the property.
Here are some points to consider:
* Once a contract offer is received, a Seller may (a.) Accept it without change, (b.) Make a counter-offer (any change to any element of the initially offered price, terms, conditions, timing, etc., (c.) Reject the offer without making a counter-offer, or (d.) Ignore the offer, which is effectively the same as a Rejection except that the offer remains 'live' until rejected by the Seller or retracted (Withdrawn) by the Buyer
* Unless an offer contains a response deadline clause (added by the Buyer or their Agent), then there is no 'deadline' for a reply
* If a Seller signs an initial offer with no changes whatsoever, then the contract is ratified and the home is deemed to be Under Contract. Any change at all (even slight corrections or adding information that was omitted in the initial offer) constitutes a counter-offer, at which point a Buyer then can accept, counter-offer back something different, reject the Seller's counter, or simply withdraw their interest.
* It is local custom that a Seller respond to an offer that they have received within about 2 Days of receipt. Again, unless the offer comes with an added clause, nothing dictates a specific response time-frame, however a Seller risks a Buyer's change of mind (or heart!) by waiting too long to reply. At a minimum, the agents involved representing the Buyer and Seller will be communicating between themselves and trying to communicate to their respective clients what to expect around a response, etc.
So, what is the best approach when a Seller receives an offer? That depends on several factors:
* How long has the home been on the market?
* Is your Listing Agent tracking any other potential interest from Agents and/or Buyers?
* Is it a solidly financed offer? Is it all-cash or a strong Conventional Loan? FHA? VA?
* Does the timing and other terms meet the needs of the Seller (another offer might not) ?
* Is the offer direct and straight-forward, or is it laden with additional Contingencies that are beyond the norm (i.e. - the Buyer must sell their own home, or the offer is subject to other conditions that are not normal for the marketplace or in the Seller's best interests) ?
Only an experienced, knowledgeable Real Estate Agent can give you the best advice and objective feedback when you are selling a home. We are here to help!
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