When a buyer is interested in a property in the Hartford area and they want to make an offer, it is customary that they sit down with their agent and write up the offer. Most real estate agencies in Greater Hartford belong to the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors and they have standard contracts we use that help facilitate this process. Once an offer is written, it’s presented to the seller’s agent who then presents it to the seller.
So why is it that I’ve continually gotten phone calls from agents this year that go something like this…
Agent Pat: “Hi Amy, this is Pat Blat from ABCXYZ Real Estate. I know that you’re not going to want a verbal offer, but my client has asked me to present it to you anyway, even though I’ve advised them against it.”
Me: “Hi Pat. Is there any way you can get them to sit down and write something up? What you’ll be presenting to me isn’t really all that useful because I can’t review their mortgage pre-approval letter and there’s no guarantee my seller would ever see anything from them in writing, which you know is necessary to move forward.
Agent Pat: “Yes, I know, I’m sorry. No, I can’t get them to sit down and write something up at this point. They just want me to present it verbally right now.”
Me: “Okay, if that’s the best we can do, can you at least send me an email with the terms so I can accurately convey all of the conditions to my client?”
Agent Pat: “Yes, I guess that would be a good starting point.”
The agent emails over the offer and I then give my client a call. I tell them that someone appears to be interested in their house, but I don’t have anything in writing, so the true level of interest and validity of the offer is unknown. We’ll discuss the terms of what the person has verbally offered. Then I’ll advise my client that they have me thank the agent and their client for the offer, but say that we’ll really need to see something in writing before we can respond to them.
In Connecticut, real estate contracts need to be in writing in order to be considered legally binding, in accordance with the statute of frauds.
If a buyer cannot make enough of a commitment to actually sit down with their agent for an hour and write an offer, why should my seller client show any of their cards by responding with a counter offer? We have no visibility to the buyer’s financial ability to even buy the home. And because there is no written offer, who’s to say that they haven’t verbally submitted offers to other sellers at the same time. For all we know it could be the competing seller down the street fishing for information. Maybe the last scenario is a little paranoid, but you never know.
So buyers, if you’re serious about the house, please work with your agent to actually write up an offer. It shows a level of commitment to the seller and their property. Otherwise you’re just wasting our time.