Sellers do not have to sell at list price and in fact, they don’t have to sell at all

In reading through some of my daily articles on real estate I came across a Q&A about a foreclosure where a buyer was countered by the bank well above asking price and was asking if that was legal or not. I’m not going to bother linking to the site here as it was more of a forum then anything else, but it’s a decent topic to cover as I’ve come across this question with buyers/sellers myself a few times.

When a seller lists their home for sale they are in no way actually required to sell the home. Why? Well, it’s the same as anything else you list for sale, you can list / offer something for sale as much as you want, but no one can force you to sell (well, no one except for a court of law or judge). Heck, even on eBay you can refuse to sell once a buyer has won your auction, but you’re likely going to get negative feedback for it; but eBay, nor the buyer, can actually force you to sell the item.

However, in real estate sales if there is a signed contract agreeing to sell to X buyer and X buyer has upheld their end of the contract, refusing to sell at that point could easily land you in court. If however a home is just listed for sale, the seller has zero obligation to accept any offer, even at or over asking price and in fact they can (and sometimes do) counter offers over asking price.

Being a Realtor I hear a lot of “stories” about what other Realtors do and who knows how many of them are actually true, I know of a lot from my own experience that are unbelievable and are absolutely true. One such story was about a Realtor that pretty much always had their home listed for sale, sign out front and directionals leading passers by to the home and yet that Realtor had zero intention of selling the home, they were doing it to get leads and potential buyers. Completely unethical, but I wouldn’t doubt the story was true considering the kind of advertising I hear/read about on a regular basis.

Now, this is not a big problem by any means and in fact I have yet to encounter a seller like this or hear of such a situation in my local realm, but it’s something I’m not sure a lot of folks are aware of, so just a tidbit of information to pass along here.

Scott McDonald


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