The Rules of Responding to Real Estate Offers
One of the common questions real estate agents often get is how long will a home seller have to respond to an offer. The question will come from prospective home buyers who want to know the ground rules when making an offer for a house.
How long a seller has to respond to an offer is typically determined by the offer’s response time. There will be a “good until” clause that says the offer expires after a specific date and time.
When you’re selling a house, it’s important to respond quickly to any offers. But how long should you wait?
There’s no definitive answer, as it depends on the situation.
If you’ve received an offer that’s substantially higher than your asking price, it might be worth responding right away if it is a buyer’s market.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling confident about your house and its value, you might not want to respond right away. There are often bidding wars in seller’s markets that can quickly escalate the price.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your property and sale.
Setting Your Sale Up For Maximum Return
In today’s crazy real estate markets around the country that heavily favor sellers, many real estate agents are deferring their showings for a few days. They will list the house in the multiple listing service (MLS), letting potential buyers know it’s for sale.
Showings, however, won’t start for a couple of days. It allows everyone in the particular price range to see the home is for sale. In frenzied markets, some buyers might miss out if it is listed and showings begin immediately.
Homes marketed in this fashion are often called “coming soon” listings. It is one of the best ways to market a home as it increases the odds that a bidding war will occur.
Usually, the real estate agent will set up a deadline that offers are due by a specific date and time. It is understood that buyer’s agents should bring their best and final offer.
In this situation, real estate agents will usually make the expiration time on the offer that day, as it is expected the seller will make a decision quickly.
How Long Does a Seller Typically Have to Respond to an Offer?
Most real estate agents say that a seller has about 24 hours to respond to an offer. However, it is important to note that each situation is different, and there may be some exceptions.
It will be noted on the offer how long the contract is good for. In my area of Massachusetts, 24 hours is a reasonable time frame to respond to an offer.
How long an offer is valid will be explicitly written into the contract.
Waiting For The Sellers to Respond to Your Offer
As a buyer, hearing back as soon as possible is advantageous, especially if there are other properties you may be interested in. It’s not a great situation to be on pins and needles waiting for something that may or may not happen. It can be very nerve-racking.
Being patient is a virtue. It will seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for a response on something so vital. Keep in mind that the seller is also making a significant life decision.
Allowing the seller the same courtesy is important. While you’re waiting for a response, you should be thinking about your next move. Many sellers will give a counteroffer, so you need to be prepared to act when they do.
How Long Do Buyers Have When a Counter Offer is Given?
Another common question from home buyers is how long a seller has to respond with a counteroffer.
The time a buyer is granted to respond to an offer can vary, but the maximum amount of time is typically 24 hours. However, once a counteroffer is made, negotiations often escalate quickly back and forth to come to terms.
It is often not just the price discussed but also other contract terms, such as contingencies and the agreed-upon closing date. The initially presented dates change quite a bit before a final agreement is made.
For example, a buyer’s agent may ask the buyer to have X amount of time to procure their financing. If the seller or seller’s agent believes it is outside what is needed, they could ask the buyer to shorten the time frame.
Maybe the seller needs a specific closing date because they have bought another home and would like to align the closing dates. These are the kind of things that get discussed before reaching a conclusion.
What If The Seller Doesn’t Respond to an Offer?
Sellers are never required to respond to an offer, but most do unless it is a lowball offer. A seller is never under any obligation to sell their property. They could change their mind and decide not to sell.
Common courtesy, however, is to let you know their plans. There is no requirement to send a rejection letter.
Follow The Rules For Your Area
Ultimately, you will want to lean on your buyer’s agent for guidance on what is customary with offer response times for the area. If you’re relocating in from another part of the country, you might find the game rules are different.
You may need to adjust to local real estate customs. The essential thing is to be detail-oriented and always think through your decisions.
Buyers’ remorse is always a terrible feeling. Making an offer that you later decide to back out on will make everyone involved feel terrible. A lot of work will have been for nothing.
Making an offer on a house has legal consequences, so know what they are before signing on the dotted line.
About the author: The above article on “How Long Should Home Sellers Wait To Respond To An Offer On Their Home?” was written by Bill Gassett. Bill has been working in the real estate industry for the past thirty-three years. He works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton Massachusetts. Bill loves providing trustworthy information to buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make the best possible decisions. His writing has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, Today.com, Credit Sesame, and others.
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