Can a Seller Withdraw a Counter Offer Before its Deadline?

seller withdraw a counter offer

The following story of can a seller withdraw a counter offer before its deadline happened recently in Sacramento. It goes like this. Seller put a home in Elk Grove on the market just before Thanksgiving. On December 31, the seller takes the home off the market and cancels the listing. On January 1, the home comes back on the market as a new listing at a new price. This is a way to reset the days on market and get a new MLS number. We do this to revitalize a listing and generate more excitement.

I should note this is not my listing. The story involves the buyer for this home in Elk Grove and how can a seller withdraw a counter offer. This home was listed by another agent. The price was apparently too high because it did not sell. Sometime in February, the agent put the home into “temporary off market” status or TOM, as agents refer to it. Sellers are supposed to give approval for a TOM status but not every agent asks.

In March, the listing came back on the market and then a few days later expired, and then extended. Toward the end of April, the home’s price dropped again substantially, where it sat for another month. Finally, buyers came along, represented by an agent, and made an offer. The sellers countered that offer. The buyers signed the seller’s counter offer.

This is when we had a seller withdraw a counter offer. The important thing to remember in this unfortunate chain of events is the timing. Before the agent sent the counter offer to the listing agent, the listing agent texted that the sellers had rescinded the counter offer. A few moments later, the agent sent another text to say the sellers no longer want to sell. The listing has been withdrawn from MLS.

The agent asked how can a seller withdraw a counter offer when my buyer has signed it? See, the deal is if the buyer’s agent had returned the counter offer prior to receipt of the text rescinding it, the seller would have been in contract. But for whatever reason, the accepted counter offer was not delivered to the buyer’s agent before the listing agent withdrew the counter.

I see this story play out time and time again. Often what happens is even worse than this story, though. Often what happens is another offer arrives while we are waiting for the buyer’s agent to send back the counter. In those instances, we immediately pull that counter offer before the deadline. Buyers who don’t act fast enough lose.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because a counter offer is in front of you that you hold the cards. The clock is ticking, and you don’t.

Photo of Vika Gerassimenko at Yosemite

Elizabeth Weintraub

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