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How Long Does a Seller Have to Think About an Offer?

When a home seller is given an offer by an interested buyer, how long do they have to make a decision of whether they will accept the offer? The answer to this question really depends on the particular offer paperwork itself and the language included in the contract. It is not uncommon for a purchase contract to set a time limit and in some states, there are laws that have prescribed purchase offer limits.

When receiving an offer, a seller has a few different options: they can fully accept the offer after thinking it over, they can make a counteroffer trying to negotiate a better purchase situation in their mind, or they could completely reject the offer. Any delay from instant response could mean several things.

Time frames included in purchase contracts

A buyer should never expect an immediate or at least same-day response from the seller. After all, it is a very big decision to make on both the buyer and the seller’s part. Some states do have laws in place that automatically give a time limit for a seller’s response on a purchase offer for their home.

For example: there are some states that state a purchase offer will be considered revoked if it is not signed by the selling party and delivered back to the buyer or their agent by 5 PM on the third day after the buyer has signed it and delivered it to the seller or their agent. In any area a buyer can enter a specific date that they would like to hear an answer back from the seller before the offer expires. Often times this deadline will be set for three days from the date the offer was made. If a state does have a specific response timeline in their real estate laws, they can vary so it is good to ask your real estate agent if the state you plan to purchase a home has one of these deadlines.

Some exceptions to timeframe rules

Bank Owned Property

This timeframe of expected acceptance or response is usually longer if a bank is selling the property. In the case of a short sale or foreclosure it could take up to a month or more. This depends on the amount of these type of properties that the bank owning the property is currently dealing with.

Delay in Contract Delivery

Upon completion of any purchase offer paperwork the buyer’s agent should immediately deliver the offer to the seller’s agent as soon as the buying party has signed it. In some cases, an agent may be delayed in this delivery. A contract generally is not considered as delivered until the actual party receives it, especially if the paperwork has not stated that there is permission for the agent to receive it on any party’s behalf.

A counteroffer

In the event that a seller responds with a counteroffer, the counteroffer essentially restarts the time clock for acceptance and approval.

Competition or being outbid by another offer

In some cases, such as right now during a very highly competitive market, a seller will want to hold off on immediately accepting the first offer they are given to see if other offers will come in. Or they may just be waiting to see if a higher offer comes along. This is a likely occurrence in the current state of the real estate market, however if a home has been on the market for a longer than the typical current selling period, a homeowner may be more likely to quickly accept an offer if it is a strong and decent one.

Does a seller have to respond to an offer?

There is no legal requirement that a seller has to give an actual response to an offer, even if they are rejecting it. Sometimes a seller may give their response by not giving one at all and they are completely within their rights to do so. This is not uncommon if there is an offer they feel is wasting their time. Especially when they have other competing offers on the table.

For more information on purchasing a home in San Tan Valley, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert and surrounding areas, please contact me anytime.

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