Seller Guidelines June 1, 2023

Seller Beware ~ Is That Buyer’s Offer Misleading?

Seller Beware ~ Is That Buyer’s Offer Misleading? Caveat emptor warns the buyer to beware, but what about homeowners who are selling their property?  The contentious market conditions over the past two years have brought several questionable situations to light that can be a disadvantage to the seller, not the buyer.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Consider this and then I’ll provide a couple of real life examples.

So in the very recent years with multiple offers on a home being the norm, there have been instances where buyers make very attractive offers, beating the other competing buyers, with the intention of getting a house under contract.  The buyer’s  intention is strictly to “get the house” but not necessarily with the terms stated in the offer.  This raises ethical concerns and can potentially lead to legal issues. Let’s take a look at both…

Ethical Considerations: Engaging in deceptive practices, such as making false or misleading offers, is generally considered unethical. It violates the principles of honesty, transparency, and fair dealing. Parties involved in real estate transactions are expected to act in good faith and provide accurate information throughout the process. Deceptive offers not only undermine trust but can also cause harm to the sellers, other potential buyers, and the overall real estate market.

Legal Implications: The legal implications of deceptive buyer offers can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances. However, in many places, there are laws and regulations in place to protect against fraudulent practices in real estate transactions. Buyers who make deceptive offers may potentially face legal consequences, including contract disputes, financial penalties, and even potential civil litigation if the seller incurs damages as a result of the deception.

Seller’s Recourse: If a seller discovers that a buyer made a deceptive offer with the intention of getting the house under contract, they may have several options for recourse. This can include rejecting the offer (the quickest remedy) , terminating the contract if it has been entered into, or pursuing legal action for any damages incurred as a result of the deception. Sellers should consult with legal professionals to understand their rights and options in such situations.

It’s important to note that while deceptive buyer offers can occur, they are generally not representative of typical real estate transactions. Most buyers and sellers aim to engage in fair and honest negotiations to reach mutually beneficial agreements. In cases where deceptive offers do occur, it’s crucial for all parties involved to understand their rights, consult legal professionals if necessary, and consider reporting any fraudulent behavior to the appropriate authorities.

Here are two examples where I’ve seen buyers attempt to deceive the seller

  1. The terms of the offer are stated to be CASH.  However, after the offer is accepted, the buyer will state, through their attorney, that they have “changed their minds since money is so cheap.” With the rising interest rates lately, it’s unlikely this will be remain a factor.  I noticed this reversal when mortgage rates were in the 2.75 to 3.5% range.
  2. Buyer states in the submitted offer that the home will be purchased in “As Is” condition. What a disappointment to the seller when after the home inspection is completed, they are presented with a long laundry list of items to be repaired (or a demand for a hefty credit).

This is where I’ll laud the significance of a well documented seller disclosure.  What a glorious thing this document is.  When a seller completes this baby with every bit of information they know about the house they’ve been living in, it protects them from litigation. It is also meant to act as a blueprint for the buyer i.e.,

“Here…read this and take note of the information contained therein BEFORE you write your offer!  Because you have been forewarned about the a) leaky basement; b) compromised retaining wall; c) pocked driveway. All things the seller has no intention of addressing because the house is being sold…AS IS.”

Your REALTOR® should review any offer you receive with you and get the answers to any questions you may have regarding any of the terms or conditions listed.  It’s important that the buyers you choose to sell to go the distance with the transaction. You’re investing valuable time in dealing with them, and there’s no guarantees that any other interested buyers will still be available should the offer be terminated.

Please keep in mind that the information provided is general in nature and not specific legal advice. Consulting with a real estate attorney or legal professional is recommended for precise guidance in real estate transaction.

“Antoinette” Scognamiglio (licensed as Maria), Sales Associate, Coldwell Banker Realty, 91 Crane Road,  Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046.  Cell Phone: 201.240.8699.  Email: AntoinetteSellsNJ@gmail.com.  Website:  www.AntoinettesHomes.net.

(C) Antoinette Scognamiglio, 2023. All Rights Reserved.