Profile picture for onebadexperience

Is the listing agent legally obligated to present a copy of the written offer to the client?

When a listing agent receives a written offer, must the agent always provide a complete copy of the written offer to his client?  Is is ethical and legal when a listing agent picks and choose which written offer or filter what part of the offer to present verbally or in writting in orderto serve the agent's interest more than the clients'?  
  • December 12 2011 - US
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Answers (26)


By law the listing agent is required to present all written offers to the seller even after an offer has been accepted. The only exception would be if the listing agent had written instructions to only present offers that had certain criteria, which is not very commonly done.

It sounds like you don't know if your offer was presented or not. That's the tough part. The seller may be the only party you can rely on for the truth. Your agent can call their broker and the listing broker to make them aware of the situation.

If you strongly believe your offer was not presented, you can file a complaint against the listing agent with the local real estate board. To file, just call the board to get advice on the procedure. It's a simple process and they are adamant about following through to investigate these complaints from the public. If in fact the agent never presented the offer, that agent will be before the board for a hearing and if ruled against that agent, for disciplinary action.

In any event you should get legal advice as to your legal rights, your options and the ramifications so you can make the best decisions.
  • January 25
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Only an attorney can advise you of your rights in this matter, beisner,but I'm wondering - how do you know that the competing offer is only for list price?

  • January 24
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Profile picture for beisner

I am a buyer (single family home) working with a buyers agent.  buyers agent informed listing agent of my interest, we were told there are 10 or so offers, all are below list price.  (House has been vacant for a year and the list price was just significantly reduced).

Jan 14 I placed an offer at the new list price - therefore a full priced offer - 20% cash down, The buyers agent informed the listing agent. 

Jan 19 Listing agent advised us that they now have a 100% cash offer for full price and would only accept cash offers because of three failed sales over the past year. 

Jan 21 I offered $10K above list and 100% cash offer.  

Jan 23 - I am asked to provide proof of funds - and do

Jan 26 - The list price cash offer is about to be signed. 

We believe the listing agent NEVER advised the sellers of our offer. 

What recourse do I have?    

  • January 24
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Yes
  • April 15 2013
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Agents will DOUBLE END you to get Bigger Commissions.  Agents for sellers sometimes keep a higher offer from the seller to avoid splitting the commission with another agent!  They may have a buyer in their pocket and do not want Seller to see the offer!  Seller is short changed/cheated.  ROTTEN and CORRUPT!!!
  • April 11 2013
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Profile picture for Jacquie10
Absolutly not!!! The listing agent is bound to present ALL offers the their sellers!
  • April 11 2013
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I have just requested the Georgia Real Estate Commission to conduct an investigation where a) I made a written offer on behalf of my client, and b) the listing broker refused to present my offer to his client and informed me of this in an email.  The Georgia Real Estate Commission said it found" no legal basis" the the other Broker committed a violation of license law.  The Commission told me this despite the fact that the Commission published a document to the contrary which is widely available on the internet. 
Link is here http://www.grec.state.ga.us/PDFS/About/newsarticles/GRECREnewsJan09.pdf
I would take further action against the broker, but I and my client lack standing to pursue any type of legal claim against the broker.  Why? The broker does not owe me or my client a duty.  The Real Estate commission is supposed to bridge this gap.  Bottom line, the only person that has the right to complain that an agent didn't present an offer in Georgia is that agent's client.
  • April 10 2013
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Dear Frypie:

Your question regarding the offer you submitted:  Neither illegal or unethical to wait (if the Seller gives the agent instruction to wait on a response to and/or presentation of your offer).

The Seller has the right to a) respond to your offer b) reject your offer c) do nothing (no response).  If they anticipated another showing that could produce an offer, they may delay their response to your offer.  Typically, if they respond in a Counter Offer, the expiration period of your offer will be extended in writing.
  • October 08 2012
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There's nothing illegal about such a decision.

But the agent has a fiduciary responsibility to present any and all offers in a timely fashion. And the seller will often make the decision as to when they will review offers. For there to be an ethics issue, there would need to be proof that the agent failed to submit the offer to the seller in a timely fashion. Otherwise it's pure speculation.
  • October 08 2012
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By law a listing agent is required to present every offer to his or her client for as long as the listing is Active or Under Contract. This falls under the laws of agency.

This is part of the agent duties in the agency relationship that the broker in charge is responsible for. This includes verbal offers and counter offers and continues until closing or the listing is no longer valid. The exception would be if the listing agent has written instructions signed by the seller directing them to do otherwise.
  • October 08 2012
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Profile picture for frypie
I am dealing with this now.  My question is a little different we put an offer in on a house that technically was good until noon the next day. On the day the offer was good til noon the seller's agent decided to wait for a showing which was at 3:00 pm to present the offer to the seller, is that "LEGAL" or is it just unethical?
  • October 08 2012
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
You always have to present every offer in complete form.
  • December 15 2011
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Technically, the offer doesn't even have to be written to have to be presented to the seller. The laws may vary by state, but here in NJ even verbal offers have to be presented by law.
  • December 15 2011
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As the Listing Agent you have a fiduciary responsibility to let your client know all offers period. Even if the clientr say to the contrary. CYA. I was given a great line of demarcation when it comes to client representation if you have to think about choosing to disclose or not your probably about to do the wrong thing.Representation is very clear the clients interest before yours disclose everything and always strive for complete transparency in every transaction.
  • December 13 2011
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yes, unless the seller has stated, in writing, something else. [e.g. only present offers above ____ dollars, only present cash offers, whatever]
  • December 13 2011
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Profile picture for Moknowshomes
Yes, the agent must present the written offer to the seller.  Verbal offers should be relayed as well.  Even if clients do not want to hear/consider certain offers, I ensure everything is passed to them immediately.  If you had a bad experience, you need to contact that agent's broker.  If you do not get anywhere, then go to the local board.  Best of luck!
  • December 13 2011
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme
as the listing agent...I'd agree with you Matt.
I'd worry that the seller changed their mind about what not to present.
(or might change their mind when hearing the offer).


as for the question...I did miss this detail...you said "in order to serve the agent's interest more than the clients"   in that case...it's plain and simple wrong.  but if the client defined rules to not present offers, it's not wrong.  (might be smarter to present anyway) but not wrong.  depends on the written agreement between seller and agent
  • December 12 2011
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As a rule of thumb I would disclose every offer...CYA
  • December 12 2011
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme
just to clarify again.   The listing agent is accountable to the seller per the agreement with the seller.
If the agreement with the seller was something like- don't bring me any offers that don't net me X dollars, or if the listing agent has the seller's instruction to automatically decline all offers with X detail- then no.  they do not have an obligation to present those.

If you are the seller and you believe that an agent is withholding offers without your permission this is a violation of your contract and unethical.  If you are a buyer or a buyer's agent and you believe your offer was not presented, it's a very simple matter to resolve. ask them- "are you working as a transaction broker or a single party broker? (might have other terms in your state) do you have the right to make decisions on behalf of the seller? or are you a netural party because I am concerned that my offer was not presented and that means you are making decisions for the seller without their permission.

I have asked that question at least 2 times when I suspect the agent was "filtering" without permission.  It turned out ONE of those times they were filtering WITH permission and one time they were filtering without permission.  IN the without permission example, my offer was accepted with the contigency contract and we closed on it a few months later.
no legal battle needed- just straight forward questions indicating that I and the offer I am bringing on behalf of the buyers should be taken seriously.
  • December 12 2011
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absolutely
  • December 12 2011
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Tiffany is correct, it does depend. The seller can say put stipulations upon offers like she said. But It also depends upon the state regulations and the owners request. An owner can say they do not want to see any further offers once they accept an offer.
  • December 12 2011
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The answer is: it depends.

A seller may have the possibility to put stipulations on the offers they wish to see, for example "I only want to see offers with no contingencies," or "only offers with prequalification letters." How this is handled varies by jurisdiction. In many places it's as simple as noting the request in writing. I would check the specifics for your jurisdiction with the real estate commission.
  • December 12 2011
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Profile picture for NinaHarris

Yes.  The listing agent's obligation is to present any and all offers to the sellers.  There is a form called an offer acknowledgement that the seller signs that acknowledges that they are aware of your offer.

It is unethical for a listing agent not to present all offers to the seller as they are required by law to work in the seller's best interest.  And if the offer is higher and or has better terms I'm sure the seller wants to know about it.

  • December 12 2011
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Yes. Under the listing agreement, the listing broker is required to present any and all offers, both written and verbal. Any agent withholding offers is violating his/her duty to their seller.
  • December 12 2011
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Absolutely.  Even if you are sitting at the closing waiting for signatures and an offer gets emailed to your smart phone, if the agent receives it, they must present it!
  • December 12 2011
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Profile picture for Dan Malloy
The listing agent is bound by our code of ethics to present every offer in it's entirety to his or her client.  Failure to do so is a serious breach of ethics, and would be cause for fines, suspension, or even dismissal.
  • December 12 2011
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