"Shy" seller (no response to offer)

9 Replies

Hi there.

New, aspiring investor here. Just getting started. I'm working with some family money, trying to find a place in Los Angeles, but I work in China (grew up in LA, family still all there).

As an investment, we are trying for our second property. 

Cut to the chase, we've put in offers on 2 properties so far and nothing back, but the properties are both still showing on the MLS as active listings (Been about 2 weeks since the offers). One is a probate sale so does that explain their lack of enthusiasm? The other is just a big sprawling multi-family with a fair bit of clearly unlicensed work on it and that one just never gets back with a yes or a no. We had one counter-offer stipulating a shorter inspection period, which we agreed to, and then nothing.

Any tips as to how to figure out what's going on? Like the place with the unlicensed work, maybe hiding something? Feels like they need to sell only to someone they really trust? Or the probate piece...do banks just move super slow? All I head from the realtor is that the seller "rarely takes offers" (still waiting for clarification).

FWIW, we got our eyes on another 3 places that might be worth making an offer but I'm just sort of mystified by how these two have gone. Seller is super slow to respond...some stuff about probate that I don't understand I think.

Apologies for rambling a bit. Not even sure yet which bits of information are the most relevant.


Are these offers substantially lower than the ask on the properties?  Were they clean, had standard conditions, or contain a long list of conditions?  What were the life of your offers: 24 hrs, 48hrs, longer?  Are you using a buyers agent, or making offers directly to the Vendor's agent?

Though you would expect such offers to be rejected, there are Vendors who simply ignore them and do not bother to respond.  If you are using an agent it is her/his job to shepherd your offer, so s/he should be pursuing a response within the "life" of the offer.

@Omar Matthew Belove   Your offers should always include an expiration date, otherwise the seller could accept your offer at any time - and that could be a problem if you've moved on to another property.

Also, the way you worded your post makes it sound like you had two active offers at the same time.  Again, that could be a problem if you're not able to complete both sales.

If that is the case, you should notify one or both IN WRITING that you are withdrawing your offer.

Presumably you have a financing contingency in both offers, so if one was under contract and the other then accepts your offer, you could get out based on that contingency.

If you're not working with a good buyer's agent, these are a couple of reasons why you should.

On probate properties, see if the listing includes a statement like "subject to seller obtaining a license to sell".  That could mean that probate isn't complete yet, and that's a reason for slow responses.

On the multi, that counter offer you accepted with the shorter inspection period could actually be under contract with you, based on your response to the counter.  It depends on the wording of the contract and the counter, but I'd do whatever it takes to figure that out TODAY.  

You could already be in - or PAST - your due diligence period.

Wow. Quick response. And thanks all.

@Roy: We actually offered 10k above list on one and, I'd have to look it up but slightly above list on the other too. Heard there were were multiple offers on both. Yes. Two offers but my agent arranged all that, with explicit communication on the financing side making it clear I was pre-approved on either one but not both. I trust my agent to have worked that part out. But I will follow up with my agent. 

@Charlie: Thanks for explaining that part about the expiration dates. Again, working with an agent, who I trust to keep me out of any "two dates to the prom" issues. But I'm also just trying to figure out how to do this mostly remotely. I'm still in China, trying to buy my first property back home. But interesting. I haven't really dug into the actual document describing the offer. I have just discussed the details with my agent and assumed that's what was in the document from the financing side. Not even sure how to wade into that thing. 

Thanks again.

@Omar Matthew Belove Start by reading the offer, line by line.  If there's anything you don't understand, have your agent lay it out in layman's terms - or better yet, have a lawyer review it for you.

You should NEVER sign an offer or any other document that you don't completely understand.  I am truly worried that you may either have two active offers out there and that you may already be in your due diligence period on the multi.

Normally, when you make an offer and the other side counters, the first offer is no longer active.  It is replaced by the counter offer.  It sounds like you agreed to the only stipulation the seller wanted, which was the shorter due diligence window.  That very likely means that in doing so, you accepted the counter offer and are now under contract.

Please call your agent right away to see if this is the case.

Appreciate the concern.

I'll print out the offer and give my agent a call. This is actually our second time buying something through this agent. I just didn't take an active role in the last deal

Still waiting to get a copy of the offer. But it looks like both were officially rejected. On the bigger multi, even my agent told me it didn't feel right ( squirrely owner, non responsiveness ) but the probate sale seems like the sellers are stalling on purpose for some reason.

I'm already moving on to other properties, but I still feel like I don't really understand what happened. 

Gonna bid on another probate sale this week I think. I guess there's a lot of secret bidding or something with probate?

@Omar Matthew Belove

Seems like the sellers are stalling on purpose for some reason.? A probate sale that explains the families  lack of enthusiasm?  Or the probate piece...do banks just move super slow?

No, not really. The agent will list and market the property. The accepted offer on the property your interested in bidding for should be 90% of the court referee's opinion of value (or appraisal). And you'll put down your 10% deposit.

With the court date coming up the agent representing the estate will keep marketing the property and let people/investors view the property.

The property your interested in (or any property) the agent for the estate will continue to market even putting in the MLS up until the court-confirmation date so that everyone knows about the property.

At this point you're going to have to do your due diligence. Run your own comp's, do your home inspection, termite inspection, etc.,.

The more bidders present at the court confirmation hearing (probate auction) the more benefit to the estate.

But when you bid in court there's no contingencies and your due diligence is required.

And if you don't close escrow on the subject property that you won at auction your going to lose your 10% deposit.

Secret bidding in front of the judge where the starting bid is already set? I don't think so.

Good luck....

Thanks so much for explaining that about probate. I'm doing this mostly remotely, often getting agent feedback through my brother, who is actually IN Los Angeles (I work in China).

I thought probate sales would be a good thing, but each time is come up, I get what feels like sighs and oh boy's, like it's this big aggravation.  

I guess they do move more slowly and there's more red tape involved is all.

Hi Omar. In California, your offer has a standard expiration of 3 days initially, as do counters, unless you’ve put something else in. As for probate, if the property requires court confirmation, it would take longer and the listing agent should provide you with additional information regarding your offer (price of overbidding increments, court date, etc). I would ask your agent to check to see if it is actually listed for auction too as some agents try to build interest as if it is a “regular” sale when it is not. I can’t believe any seller is being slow in this market! There’s a real lack of inventory here. Best of luck to you!

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