How Long Can a Seller Take to Accept, Reject, or Counter a Buyers Offer?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…This is a very interesting question, and one that has major relevance in today’s real estate market.

Most of the time, everyone operates on the assumption that a seller who puts his home on the market is ready to sell, and therefore, is capable of giving a buyer who makes an offer an answer rather quickly. The answer may be NO…it may be YES…or it may be a counteroffer on some point in the offer…but at least the buyer has an answer and can proceed accordingly.

BUT…what happens when the seller, for whatever reason, takes too long (days, etc.) to answer the buyer? What are the buyers options?

First, understand that in the standard Real Estate Purchase Agreement (RPA), the default time a seller has to get back to a buyer is 3 days from the date the buyer signs the RPA. Of course, the buyer is free when making the offer to shorten or lengthen this time frame, but most of the time, everyone rolls with the 3 day time period.

Secondly, there are lots of legitimate reasons why a seller could take more than 3 days to get you an answer. It could be they are out of town for a couple of days…or someone is sick and it’s best to wait until they feel better…or there is a family emergency…or who knows what. In cases where there seems to be a legitimate reason for this delay, it’s probably in the buyer’s best interest to simply wait until the time is right for the seller. After all, the buyer wants the seller’s cooperation on the offer, so showing some patience might be the best way to get the seller in a receptive frame of mind for the offer.

However, how about the situations where the seller is perhaps playing a “game” with the buyer? Perhaps the seller is trying to solicit other offers to get buyers in a bidding frenzy…or waiting to see if they a get a better offer…or testing the waters to see what they should do next…again, who knows what.

In cases like this, what can the buyer do?

Well, the bottom line here is that a buyer has two choices when and answer is not forthcoming in a timely fashion: Suck it up and remain patient if you want the house, or pull your offer and go somewhere else.

We wish there was a third alternative, but in the end, it’s the seller’s house and they can be as difficult to work with as they want. Yes, we get it…what you really want to do is scream at someone who is so self-centered as to play with your time and emotions, but that won’t get you very far. This is why you should have a real estate agent…someone who will be a buffer between you and the seller…someone who can calm you down, and remind you it’s in your best interest to remain patient and not “lose it”, because we seldom find that yelling at the seller enhances your offer!

So…if you ever find yourself in this situation, our best advice is to remain patient, resist the urge to pull your offer or scream at the seller, and take solace that when you eventually purchase the home, the seller does not come with the house!!

Trust us on this one…staying cool goes a lot further.

Take care, and as always, thanks for taking the time to read our blog…and let us know if you have any real estate issues you would like us to address in this space.

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