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You've looked at so many houses you can't remember them all. You need to find one that's just right and the clock is ticking. It's frustrating, but then suddenly, you find it! And it's time to write an offer. The whole process of writing the offer, negotiations, rejections, counter-offers, and finally an accepted offer is perhaps the most confusing and intimidating to buyers. The following should answer some of the most common questions that you might have, but is not meant to replace the expert advice of a REALTORŪ or an attorney.

Q: Who can accept an offer?

The Owner has the sole right of final determination of the acceptability of an offer and only the Owner can legally initiate or accept an offer. In the absence of written authorization to an agent, only the Owner can sign a contract.

Q: When does the offer have to be presented to the seller?

Upon receipt of a written offer, the listing firm shall contact the Owner to arrange for presentation of the offer to the Owner as quickly as possible.

Q; What does the seller have to do with my offer?

The Owner may do one of four things: accept it, reject it, make a counter-offer or simply do nothing and let the offer expire.

Q: How long should I make my offer open?

You should discuss this with your REALTORŪ. Keep in mind that your offer must have a specific expiration time and date.

Q: My REALTORŪ said our offer was the first the Owner received, but then the Owner accepted an offer that came later. Is this allowed?

Time or order of receipt of a written offer has no bearing on preferential consideration. The Owner does not have to deal with offers in the order they are received.

Q: Our REALTORŪ told us we were in a "Multiple Offer" situation. What's that?

This happens when more than one offer is "on the table" at the same time. The Owner will be advised by the listing REALTORŪ of the advantages and disadvantages of letting the potential purchasers know about the presence of other offers. The advantage is that the Owner may get a better price because the purchasers may offer more in this "bidding" situation, but the disadvantage is that some buyers will elect to revoke an offer from a competitive situation.

Q: We've given our signed offer to our REALTORŪ to present to the Owner, but now we have decided not to buy the house. Can we take back our offer?

Offers may be revoked prior to the Owner's acceptance. Once the Owner has accepted an offer, it becomes a legally binding contract.

Q: The Owner had to go out of town while he was considering my offer. Can I extend my offer?

Yes, prior to expiration of the offer, a written extension can be secured.

Q: The Owner accepted our offer, except he wants more time to move out.

Is this a counter-offer? Any conditional acceptance or modification of terms of an offer constitutes a counteroffer.

Q: We really want a certain house, but our REALTORŪ says a contract is already pending and the best we can do is write a back-up. What's that?

This happens when an offer is received while a contract is pending. The Owner may accept, reject or counteroffer just as in any other negotiation, but acceptance or counteroffer must be contingent upon obtaining a written release from the pending contract.

Q: When is an offer considered "accepted?"

The offer must be accepted in writing and the acceptance communicated to the parties.

Q: Can I have my attorney look over my offer before we give it to the Owner?

Yes. If you feel more comfortable having your attorney review your offer, go ahead. Remember, a REALTORŪ is a real estate practitioner, not a legal advisor.

Q: Is "earnest money" required in order for the contract to be legal?

No, it is not required by law, but it may be required by the Owner before he or she will accept an offer. See the section on earnest money.

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