Hi everyone! I've searched online for the answer to this question and can't seem to find it. I have purchased multiple properties in PA using an agent, and in my experience the agent always has me review and sign the offer letter before he submits it. I just put an offer in on a property in NJ for the first time, and in this case, the new agent I am working with in this area went ahead and submitted it without my review or signature of the written offer (which was fine, I think, it just felt a bit odd that I hadn't reviewed it in writing like I am accustomed to from previous PA purchases).
I'm wondering if this is part of a difference in rules between PA and NJ? Or just a difference in preferences/styles between different agents?
Thank you for reading.
@Kati Stratos No, that is NOT OK.
First, an offer is a contract. Contracts require signatures and in some cases may require a wet (ink) signature (closing docs in Mass and Maine for example). For others, an e-signature is permissible. In no case is an unsigned contract allowed to be presented in real estate.
A contract without the signatures of the parties to it is not a contract at all. It's a draft and not enforceable.
Second, if it was submitted without your review, you don't have any idea what was actually submitted. What if I were your agent and included a clause that said "buyer to pay buyer's agent an additional $10,000 because he's such a nice guy"? Or worse, added language that restricts you from using the property as you intend. Maybe I'm a neighbor and tired of the smell and added -"this former pig farm shall no longer be used as any kind of farm" - when using it as a pig farm is the only reason you're buying it.
That is a major screw-up. It is grossly irresponsible and a serious ethical violation.
I'd tell him that:
1. He is to immediately notify the other party that you are withdrawing that offer and will resubmit based on your review. (No, it's not valid as presented, but you don't want a document like that hanging out there).
2. If he pulls a stunt like that again, you will file a complaint with the real estate commission.
3. Maybe there's something you're missing (though it doesn't sound like it), so I would ask for an explanation. If you don't get one that's satisfactory, I'd fire him and get a new agent.
Contracts do require a signature so eh can't put an actual offer without you signing. He can verbally submit an offer but that means nothing if you haven't signed. I'd just ask him if he'll be sending you a contract to sign. Since he's new maybe he doesn't understand?
@Charlie MacPherson , thank you so much for this thoughtful and thorough response. My gut was telling me this was not right, and I'm so glad to have that confirmed. Really appreciate you.
What @Charlie MacPherson said. There is no offer without a signature. Even for auctions online, as an agent you upload the signed contract when you submit. How did your agent claim they made an offer without you signing a contract? This really doesn't make any sense, is unenforceable, and is not helping you if you really want the property. What part of NJ?
Well, unless the letter is a binding contract if the other guy signs (can be a unilateral contract I guess then), probably not a legal req BUT I AM NOT LAWYER
However, as noted, it's p*** poor practice and can set you up for some real issues
1) Signature/initial implies you've seen, reviewed and agree with the doc
2) Signature implies that what you signed is final. Broker slips something in after that's fraudulent
3) Implies you're more serious than just sending out what may be a form letter (assuming it's wet-ink).
@Caleb Brown , thank you. I sent him a text asking if I needed to sign the offer before submitting and he said "Your offer is in. I'll let you know when I hear back." He's only 'new to me', not new to real estate, so I'm VERY perplexed and now quite nervous. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply, this is so helpful for me.
Originally posted by @Kati Stratos :
so I'm VERY perplexed and now quite nervous.
Well, unless it's been accepted, you can retract an offer. If you're that nervous, get some notification with a time stamp to your broker and tell him you want to retract it.
@Jonathan Greene Thanks, Jonathan. I appreciate your reply. The property is in Ventnor City, NJ.
Follow up question for you and others. Can my PA agent submit an offer on a property in NJ? If so, I may require that this agent withdraw my offer (as @Charlie MacPherson suggested) and have the agent I trust in PA re-submit it for me instead. Would that be allowed?
@Steve Morris Thanks for this guidance. Very helpful. Can I withdraw the offer and resubmit it via the agent I use (and trust) in PA? The only reason I was working with this new guy was because the property is in an area about an hour from where I live (it's a beach duplex).