Realtor Bait & Switch ?

84 Replies

This happened to us 4 times during the foreclosure crisis,  all had been on the market over 180 days.  We will never know if the counter offers were real or not except in one case.  First time we panicked like the noobs we were and upped our offer.  Next three times we waited it out---and got two of the three.  Which makes me think it was all ******** except the one time we didn't get it.  We were absolutely lowballing and still won 2 out of three.  (Not counting the time we upped our offer.)

@Engelbert Devera Always put in your offer with a sign by or expiration date. That puts pressure on them to accept In timely manner. Often time they play this game to have you raise your offer. Remember to fall in love with the numbers not so much in love of the property, love the property after you purchase it.

@Engelbert Devera This happens sometimes. The Seller wants the highest and best, so does the Realtor. 

Now, all you have to do wait and when they come back begging you drop the price to your original office. 

Try not to be too vested in ONE deal. 

Deals are like buses there is always another coming behind!

@Engelbert Devera

I have a different approach on offers. I always put a time limit on the offer as others have mentioned. However, in addition I tell my agent if the seller comes back saying they want more time for other offers then tell them my offer after time expires will be lowered a small amount. In your case, an 82,000 offer today will become an 81,000 offer tomorrow.

This will give the seller second thoughts about shopping my offer. Also, if they shop it and fail then my offer is clearly above market so it should be lowered.

I never tell the seller my approach up front as it may offend, only if they come back with “awaiting better offers”.

Originally posted by @Engelbert Devera :

@Brian Haskell they received the paperwork with their asking counter price but have NOT signed the contract. So technically I don’t have a deal until they sign it correct?

Correct. Technically, you made an offer that they did not respond to and then you made a second higher offer that they have not responded to. In the future, if someone counters verbally have them send it officially. If you had actually accepted a counter, you'd be under contract and be able to purchase the property. Agree with what's been said previously about not pulling your offer for spite. You never know what the other offer is.

It's just business. If you are comfortable with your offer, let it stand and wait to see what the sellers come back with. Either they'll agree to your offer, or they'll tell you there's a new offer on the table, and you'll likely have to match or beat it. At that point you can decide what to do.

Imagine you were in the sellers' position. Wouldn't you do the same thing?

"Doesn’t matter if an offer is coming in tomorrow. If they made a written counter offer and you accepted, the deal is done. If nothing was in writing, then no deal was offered or accepted."

Not true at all. At least in Chicago seller can sign an offer and an hour later have attorney email "I declare contract null and void" and go with a new higher offer. Nothing is permanent until attorney review closes. 

This is why it's good to have a well known realtor. It tends to be the no name realtors that play games like this. People who have rapport and know each other tend to be a lot more upfront.

In this situation, there was not a counter offer. There was an offer and a verbal discussion about a counter offer. The seller never gave a counter offer, they asked for the buyer to resubmit a revised offer. The realtor probably did that intentionally as to not lock the seller into anything.

The alternate way this could have gone down is request a counter offer in writing. In that case, the seller could not have considered any other offers.

I get annoyed when realtors will not send a written counter and instead ask you to resubmit an new offer. I just say put it in writing back to me or nothing will happen. That is my personal strategy, but I get why the listing agent wants to keep options open.

@Engelbert Devera It was no mistake on your part. Realtors play this game all the time. You can try to get things in writing but you may struggle. 

We bought multiple properties and think that we are sophisticated player but it happens to us all the time (especially for attractively priced deals) even though we know the game.  

I read a lot of sophisticated responses on this thread and some good ideas. Practically speaking - if you have an unscrupulous realtor, which seems like you are dealing with one, all bets are off. They will use your offer and will beat the drums that demand is strong.

@Engelbert Devera

No need to be emotional. Your offer is what it is. They take it or not.

It is really odd but there are times when a house has been on a long time and suddenly gets a lot of interest because of price decreases or the competing inventory has been absorbed and this house “was a 2 at 10pm and a 10 at 2am.”

@Russell Brazil Made a great point in that the listing agent is doing their job to get the seller the best price. You have to make your realtor work you just as hard on the buyer's side

If I was the buyer's agent I would have pried and figured out where that other offer was coming in at and obtained as much information as possible. You'd be surprised how much info listing agents will give up (Not all of them, but a lot of them). Maybe if you came up to 83k would 3k in earnest money and a shorter inspection period with a 4 hour response time you would have got it, who knows? Typically I'm very aggressive with offers, especially on earnest money and response time

I just got a deal under contract this week from doing something similar. The deal price dropped from 180k to 142k. I went and walked the house within 30 minutes of it hitting the hot sheet and had the offer to them within the hour, 125k. Over the course of the next day they had a bunch of other offers all between the 120k and 132k mark and I called the agent and said where do I need to be to get this done? Highest offer they said was 132k. We came up to 132.5k (Still worked there), shortened inspection period to 48 hours and upped earnest money to $5k, and put a 2 hour response time on it. Offer was accepted. Found a couple things to renegotiate on and ended up at 130k. 

I can’t tell you how many offers I’ve made, even on properties that have been on the market forever. 99.9% of the time the selling agent will ALWAYS say there’s another offer coming or at a minimum another interested party. It’s not always untrue either, as a selling agent they’re going to go back to every other single person that showed the least bit of interest and let them know it’s their last shot to get in. Sometimes this does result in a competitive offer. However, in most cases, it never materializes or the competitive offer doesn’t have as good of terms. If you make an offer and it’s truly your highest and best, put your head in the sand! Stay emotionless through the process and you’ll make better business decisions!

@Engelbert Devera As a Realtor I learned pretty quickly to stop giving any verbal acceptance of offers because of this sort of situation (which happens more than you’d think). I would not pull your offer, that makes no sense. That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. This is a business, don’t let your emotions get the best of you (easier said than done). I’d suggest finalizing your signed, accepted counter offer and submit it. If they were lying then you’ll get the property for the price you agreed. If they weren’t lying, well you’re no worse off than if you pull you offer.

Originally posted by @Engelbert Devera :

@J Tessier I agree 100%. Can you contact the seller directly even if they already have a realtor? I think they have to use their realtor since they have a contract for their listing.

 A realtor is selling a product and charging a rate for there service. So let’s say the seller agrees to pay a buyer and seller commission typically. They sign a contract saying I’ll list with you for X amount of time and get paid X percentage to bring you a offer. You may have also signed an agreement with a broker saying if I purchase a property you’ll get x percentage as well. So be careful you maybe on the hook too. If you have the sellers info certainly contact them directly. If it’s been for sale for a long time the contract may be close to expiring. If you can explain to them your willing to purchase the property with no agents that means 5% that’s not going to realtors and instead coming off the purchase price. So if you use a realtor and pay $100,000 for the house the seller pockets $95,000. If I’m able to get to the seller directly and I offer $95,000 the seller gets the whole $95,000 which is the same amount they got before except you save $5,000. Since there’s no one between you and the seller communicating is easier and smoother in my mind. Realtor will hate you but your wallet won’t!

For me....It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all. I always try to operate in the world of facts (Not saying it is easy!). But if you want the house, I would ride it out and see what happens before you make a decision based on circumstantial evidence, thoughts and feelings. Let it play out and if there is another offer and you do not want to make another counter offer then move on to the next deal. 

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@J Tessier just remember that a listing agent only has a fiduciary duty to his/her client, not to you as the buyer. You may or may not get better/more info or a better deal, it is not guaranteed. Same as going directly through the listing agent because they'll lower their listing fees to get you a better price. That's not a guarantee either.

@Engelbert Devera

I think you have likely received some accurate as well as some inaccurate information. Every situation is different, as are State laws. Here are a few items that I'm thinking:

1) You may have had a legally binding agreement in place, depending on your state. Here in Ohio, verbal agreements are legally binding. That being said, good luck proving it in court. If verbal agreements are not considered legally binding, you simply have an offer that wasn't accepted.

2) Depending on your state, there may be an attorney review period. This is what I call a "get it of jail free" card. It essentially allows the other party to cancel the agreement for basically any reason.

3) Going forward, make sure you get any counter offers in writing.

4) It sounds like there was another bona fide offer from another buyer. This tells me that it wasn't just the listing agent give you a line. Don't assume that there isn't another offer that comes in. Also, don't overreact if another offer does come.

5) Going forward, a couple of things to consider: (1) using an escalation clause in competitive offer situations. (2) If there are other offers involved, insist on getting a copy of the last page of the other offer(s) (minus private details) so that you have verification that they actually existed.

Best of luck to you!

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