The High Road: Best and final offer is illusory

There is normally no magic involved in choosing a best and final offer. (Flickr photo by Emz.watson)

We are told early in the week that the listing broker already has two offers in hand.  All other offers are due by Friday at 5 p.m., she says.

Fair enough, but then she adds that best and final offers have a deadline of the following Monday at 5 p.m.

A double-deadline in advance is strange, indeed.  What usually happens is that a listing agent has several offers in hand, doesn’t see a clear winner and only then, in concert with the seller, asks for best and final offers.

That’s the typical procedure.

My clients and I attend our open house on the Sunday before best and final offers must be submitted and learn from the listing broker that there have been 10 other offers.  From what we overhear, it appears that new offers also are welcome despite the earlier Friday deadline.

So why that deadline?

Whatever the reason, we get our improved offer in on time and wait to hear the result.  Nothing.

I am reluctant to put pressure on the broker for fear that it will prove to be counter-productive, but I finally e-mail her Tuesday afternoon to ask when we will learn whether our offer was the best one.  She sends a three-word reply: “Hopefully this afternoon.”

Time passes, and it is not until Wednesday afternoon, 43 hours after the best and final offers had to be submitted, that an e-mail arrives with the bad news that I had by then expected.

In most cases, it takes a listing broker and seller an hour or two to peruse offers and conclude with finality which is the best one.  It is a black and white decision.

I cannot think of an acceptable reason for the broker’s two-day delay in our situation.

Was the broker negotiating with one, two or perhaps three of the other prospective buyers for terms, prices or both?  In other words, was she “shopping” offers, aiming for even better ones?

Had she failed to screen the initial offers for their acceptability — for example, how strong were their finances and mortgage prospects, how willing were thee buyers to schedule settlement for a mutually convenient time, or could they omit certain contingencies?

If screening was an issue, maybe she spent the weekend luxuriating in a bubble bath and counting her commission dollars instead of doing required work.

If “best” to her means “nearly best” and “final” means “semi-final,” then you have to wonder about her ethics.

Whatever the broker’s explanation might be, I’d say she could not have been less professional in the way she handled the transaction.

She’s hardly the only listing broker who has acted questionably: After I drafted this post, I came across another one by an anonymous agent whose observations and resulting comments are well worth reading.

Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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