Reader question: “We recently made an offer on a house, but we haven’t heard back from the sellers yet. It has been two days, and if I remember correctly we made the offer good for 72 hours. So I guess they still have time. My question is, can the seller continue to accept other offers from buyers after I’ve made my offer?”
Yes, the seller can continue receiving offers from interested parties for as long as they want. In fact, they could keep the home listed for sale right up until the closing date, if they chose to. But in a typical real estate scenario, the seller will not actually accept another offer while they have a purchase agreement signed and effective. Usually, the homeowner will put the home “under contract” to give exclusive rights to the buyer with whom they have an agreement (unless that agreement is voided for some reason).
But you haven’t reached that stage yet. At least, not at the time you posted your question. You’re still waiting to hear back from the homeowner(s). So let’s talk about the different scenarios that might take place at this point…
How the Seller Might Handle Your Offer
You’ve made an offer to buy a house. The sellers will do one of three things next:
- They might accept your initial offer as is, without trying to adjust the price or terms.
- They might make a counter offer with a higher sale price, fewer concessions, etc.
- They might turn you down cold, without making a counter.
If the seller makes a counter offer, the ball will move back into your court. You would then have to decide what you want to do next. You could either accept their counter and move the deal forward, or go back to them with a counter of your own. During this time, the seller may choose to receive and evaluate offers from other buyers. They have not yet made any kind of commitment to you. There is no purchase agreement in place. So the seller will likely continue accepting other offers, even after you’ve made yours.
It makes plenty of sense, when you think about it from the homeowner’s perspective. They still don’t have a signed contract with a buyer. So they have no reason to stop showing the home to other interested parties. The wisest thing would be to continue showing the property until they actually have a signed purchase agreement for the sale of the property. In doing so, they are covering their bases to increase the chance of a sale. I would do the same thing if I were selling my house.
Now, when you actually have a signed purchase agreement (signed by both parties, which means you have both agreed on the purchase price, the closing date, and other details), the house is then considered to be “under contract.” At this point, the seller probably will not accept other offers from buyers. They probably won’t even show it anymore. After all, a home can only be under contract with one buyer at a time. The rules on this vary from state to state. But in most cases, the seller would not be able to sign and accept another offer while there is currently one place.
Are you working with a real estate agent right now? If so, they should be able to explain all of this to you. An experienced agent can tell you what the next step will be, and what options you have at each stage of the process.
On a side note, you can increase the chances of your offer being accepted by offering to pay a reasonable amount based on current market conditions and pricing trends. To do this, you would need to review comparable sales in the area, to see what similar homes have sold for recently.
Recap: How the Process Usually Works
We’ve covered a lot of information up to this point. So let’s recap some of the key points.
Here’s how the process usually works. The buyer finds a suitable property and makes an offer to buy it. The offer includes the price the buyer is willing to pay, the proposed closing date, the earnest money amount, as well as any concessions requested of the homeowner. At this point, the seller will do one of three things: (1) accept the initial offer, (2) counter it, or (3) reject it outright.
In most cases, they will continue to accept and review offers from other potential buyers, up until they have a signed purchase agreement. With such an agreement in place, the home will be considered “under contract.”
Most homeowners stop showing their properties when they are under contract. But there is nothing to stop them from receiving and reviewing additional offers at this point, if they choose to.
We have a lot of articles on this subject, by the way. So if you have additional questions, try using the search box at the top of this page.
Brandon Cornett is a veteran real estate market analyst, reporter, and creator of the Home Buying Institute. He has been covering the U.S. real estate market for more than 15 years. About the author