We got an offer on our home after it was taken off the market.

Skipper1234February 21, 2012

We had our house on the market for about 2 months (during the winter) and we had MANY showings (broke our realtor's record for open house--or so we were told) as well as multiple inquires. We had 2 offers that didn't pan out because the home-buying environment is such that people think they can pick up a fully renovated house for the price of a fixer-upper/foreclosure. We got sick of all of it and pulled our house off the market. We are not desperate to sell, we just wanted to take advantage of the low interest rates and move to an area where we would have a better commute. More than a month after we removed our listing, we received a hand written letter from a couple stating that they would like to buy our house.

It looks legitimate, but I have to admit that we are leery of it because of the creative ways that realtors have of attempting to get us to list with them.

My questions are:

1) If this is a sincere offer, what obligation (if any) do we have to our former listing realtor?

2) If there is no obligation to our former realtor, can we cut out the realtor commissions altogether and just have a real estate lawyer draft the documents for us? That way the buyers can get a great price and we can be happy as well.

I appreciate your feedback!

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1 - Look at your listing agreement. It probably addresses this issue.

2 - You don't have to have a real estate agent. As to how documents are drafted and done, this may depend on your state and what is typical.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:43AM
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Typically, a listing agreement has a period of time after expiration where you would owe commission ONLY IF the potential buyer had viewed the home BEFORE the listing expired. If you find a buyer on your own now, you won't owe commission. However, you need to be sure they didn't attend one of the open houses etc or have a private showing. Your former agent has access to all the sales data from the MLS, so they will be able to check up on you to make sure you are honoring the contract.

If your buyer is really "new" to the property, you don't need to involve the agents. Even if your state has a "standard" contract, you should still have a RE lawyer represent your interests. It will only be a couple hundred bucks and will protect your biggest asset.

As to how to proceed, ask the potential buyer to submit a formal written offer. That will let you know pretty quickly who you are dealing with.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 8:35AM
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"As to how to proceed, ask the potential buyer to submit a formal written offer."

An offer in the form you have is not a contract.

Contact the letter writer and ask them to make a formal proposal.

An offer to purchase that when you accept and sign becomes the contract in most states.

You should have access to an attorney to review the contract and look out for your interests (unless you are very experienced, and even than another set of eyes is cheap insurance).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:32AM
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The hand written letter you received wanting to buy your house is most likely one of those "will buy for cash" at a very low ball price.

If there is a phone number on the letter, do a reverse look up and you will mostly find it to be a "will buy for cash" place.

I received one of those letters on the house I have for sale. I do not live at that address, however, the letter was sent to my home address. They drive buy, pluck phone numbers, look up tax records for owner's name/address and then send a letter. The letter is bait for their business in hopes they can find a sucker.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Update: It was a legitimate and very fair offer from a lovely couple who happened to see our house while it was on the market and thought it would be perfect for them. Ultimately we decided that the timing wasn't right for us--we made many travel plans that we don't want to put on hold to move.

Thanks to all of you for your input!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:57PM
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I guess I don't understand. There isn't much work on your part besides open home for appraisal (which can be scheduled quickly) and put in your contract the NOT to CLOSE BEFORE clause.

Unless, you think holding out for a better price or deal later in the year I couldn't see declining an offer if they are willing to work with you?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:08AM
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