Seller's counter higher than list price - legal?

Long-story-short, I found a property for sale for $50,000 and made a low-ball offer of $40,000 on it. The listing agent sent me an email the next day saying the seller upgraded the electrical mains to 200 amp and countered my $40,000 at $52,000. Is this legal? I mean I thought since it was listed at a certain price that the seller couldn’t go higher.

They can counter with anything they feel like as far as I know.

They can’t be compelled to sell to you at any price as long as you don’t have an agreement. They made an offer for sale and you made an offer to buy.

I have had it done to me where they offer a house at $50,000. It looks like a good deal so I offer $50,000. They come back and say they have multiple offers so make a higher bid. If the house is a good deal at some higher price I may bid that higher price, but I have told them this is my bid take it or leave it before also. I did that 2 months ago and that house is still for sale. Go figure.

I suppose you’re right - it just seems a bit sneaky to me. I mean, if they expected to counter at $52,000 then why list it for $50,000? Unless, of course, they were hoping to get ANY offer (i.e., this property has been listed for a while) and then smack it to the potential buyer with a higher counter.

Personally if I were you I’d counter with $37k. See what they say to that offer. :cool

I’m a lowballer at heart, so I agree with Rich.

In MN & WI if a seller signs an agreement with a Realtor and then decides to not accept a full asking price with no contingencies, they can be sued. I said this once before and some people said I was wrong. So I did some checking and I was right. In MN and WI (where I invest) a seller that is using a Realtor can not reject a full asking price with no contingencies.

Thanks - I just did exactly that. :bobble

If your highest and best price is $40k I guess it’s a moot point if they are offended by your lower offer.

Probably. This place has been on the market >200 days and hasn’t gotten ANY offers before (according to the agent), so I expected them to at least counter with something like $49k or $48k, but certainly not something HIGHER.


What is this property in regards to the owner? Personal residence that they live in? Vacant home that they have moved out of and into a new residence? Investment property that’s rented (or vacant)? Left to them in a will? Depending on the situation there might not be any urgency to sell so you might make any headway if you aren’t at their full asking price. What is your max buy price?

sued by who? realtor? ( I could see that) Potential buyer?

It’s a fully rented duplex. The owner doesn’t live in it. I’m assuming they are NOT motivatedl. What got me was the fact they have it listed for $50k, I submitted an offer, and they came back with " … well, we made some updates, so we’ll take $52k instead." So, why not update the listing to $52k then? BTW, I could still live with buying it for $52k (still have to rerun the figures to make sure), but it’s just the way the whole thing was done.

That is weird that they would do that. Oh well, I guess if worst comes to worse you can still pay full price and be ok so all is not lost. $40k would be better.

Yes, its the realtor whom can sue the owner for not accepting a full price no contingency offer, not the buyer. Once you make an offer on a property or a counteroffer all prior bets are off as they say. That is the risk with making a counteroffer as the other party is no longer obligated by their first offer.

The seller maybe trying to stall the sale. I have seen this. They do not want to really sell and need to wait for the listing to expire so they do not have to pay the agent a commission. They may have someone ready to buy when it ends, realize cashflow is good and want to keep, etc.

Sellers could get the same result by terminating their listing , not having to wait for the listing to expire.

That just sounds like a standard case where the realtor’s job is to find a ready, able and willing buyer. If they did that at the full asking price, then the realtor would have some case against the seller if the seller just rejected a full price offer because at that point he would have done his job and would be entitled to his commission. The realtor’s job is also to get the highest and best price for the seller so if there are multiple offers, it can easily go over asking price.

That’s a far cry from saying the seller can’t reject a full asking price. They can and they would just be liable for the realtor’s commission. Now I’ve known other realtors where this has happened. Seller changed their mind. In their case because they had already done their job, they could have sued for their commission, but in each case I heard about, the realtor decided not to do so because they felt the seller would list with them again so they’d get a commission eventually. Lawsuits tend to sour a relationship.

A seller can’t reject a full asking price with no contingiencies. They can’t because they signed a contract. If they don’t accept a full asking price, then they will be open for a lawsuit. Whether the plaintiff/Realtor goes through with the lawsuit has nothing to do with what I said. You can do a lot of things if noone will sue you.

I think you and I can agree to disagree on this one.

You seem to think in theory that the seller can’t reject the offer. In reality they can do it and they do. Thinking that they can’t just gives the buyer a false sense of security. There’s really no advantage to thinking that they have to sell to you so there’s no point promoting that theory.

There’s lots of other ways for the seller to get out of it, they can just pay off the realtor for the time they spent marketing the place instead of giving him the full commission. Everything is negotiable in real estate and this is just another one of those items.

I’m having my roof replaced today. I gave them $1,000 to start and the rest in the end. I signed a contract. I might try your logic and just not pay them. I don’t HAVE to pay them, right? They can’t MAKE me write a check. Of course they will sue me, but I guess that’s not the point. :biggrin

I get what you’re saying. If the seller won’t sell then there’s probably nothing that can be done. So that rule probably won’t help the buyer. Good point henryinma.