With real estate offers, who says that life is fair?

(flickr photo by maorix)

Sadly, homebuyers are finding that sellers are in the driver’s seat once again.

And they don’t always play fair.

As lawyer Adam Stone points out in a BrickUnderground.com column, not only do many sellers entertain multiple offers.  They also may work with multiple contracts.  Stone asks a pertinent question:

For buyers in a multiple contract situation, it’s a race to the finish line—one they’re sometimes not even aware they are in.  Many are upset when they find out. But do they have a right to be?

The short answer is that they have every right from a moral standpoint.  Legally, though, too bad.

What particularly galls buyers is that they may not even know that the seller has accepted more than one offer, let alone sent out multiple contracts.  Says Stone:

It’s not only an issue of trust and fair play, it’s one of finances.

Indeed, the buyer may have committed funds to an attorney or a home inspector.  The buyer may have acted honorably by foregoing another offer for the one that faces undisclosed competition.  A mortgage commitment at a low interest rate may be at risk as well.

It is easy to imagine the extra costs and anguish that burden a buyer whose contract becomes one of several for the same residence in the week or two before the document is fully executed.  By comparison, a simple bidding war looks like child’s play.

As a seller myself, I fully appreciate the seller’s dilemma, which turns on whether a single contract will lead ultimately to a closing.  But I don’t imagine a persuasive argument that a seller’s self-interest should trump basic fairness or a high moral standard.

Do unto others. . . Makes sense to me.

Friday: Last Weekly Roundup of the summer

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

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

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