Dear real estate advisor,
I submitted our best and last offer for a house that received multiple offers and never got a response so I just assumed we lost. Several weeks later, the house appears “Sold” for a price lower than our offer. Can it be done here in California? Do you think it was a mistake or did the agent just want it that way? How can I protect myself in future auction wars? I am confused and crazy.
– Mel C.
Brian Caissie / Getty Images
Sorry you lost. While I can’t say with complete certainty, I’m assuming you weren’t represented by an agent in your offer. A good buying agent would almost certainly have found out where you were at and what you needed to do to get it. While there are times when you don’t need an agent, the absence of an agent in a multiple offer situation puts the buyer at a distinct disadvantage. Unfortunately, that may be the reason why you are not moving into your dream home just yet.
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What happens in bidding wars
It’s possible that your offer got lost in the rework, or wasn’t sent from your computer, or the seller’s owner wants someone else – maybe a friend or relative – for some reason. . But there are many other possibilities:
- Some listing agents simply prioritize email offers from buyers’ agents over individuals.
- Maybe the winning buyer paid cash, or they were already pre-qualified for a loan and you weren’t.
- Maybe the deposit money you offered was so small (say, $ 500, for example) that you weren’t taken seriously.
- Maybe your offer had an expiration date; an expired offer should then be reactivated and sellers may have needed to act quickly at some point and took the path of least resistance.
- Or maybe you asked for concessions that the successful bidder did not ask for.
- The buyer may even have waived inspection, appraisal and other typical due diligence measures to grease the deal.
In multi-offer environments, agents of good sellers will always advise their clients to choose the most profitable and least risky offer.
No law broken
By the way, there is nothing illegal or unethical in California or any other state about not responding to an offer. There is a breach of ethics, however, if a listing agent does not present all serious offers to the seller, but it involves the selling party, then there is no recourse for you.
All of that aside, it is rude and unprofessional for an agent not to respond to any legitimate offers. If it can help you feel better, call or email the sellers directly and ask why your seemingly generous offer was turned down, if in fact it was seen at all. If something fishy happened and the listing agent piled up the package for a friend or preferred buying agent, sellers should know that they did not receive all fair offers and their agent has acted unethically. First, check your computer to make sure your offer has been sent.
Next time, consider hiring a buying agent, assuming you haven’t this time around. Some homes in heated markets receive up to 20 bids, so you need to be better prepared and have a professional lawyer to advise you on how to win a bidding war in this fiercely seller’s market.
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