Q. Is it legal to include a date certain in a listing when all offers will be presented to the seller?
A. Yes, an agent may hold off presenting offers to a seller so long as the delay is the result of a lawful instruction from the seller. 254 CMR 3.11(d) states “All offers submitted to brokers or salespeople to purchase or rent real property that they have a right to sell or rent shall be conveyed forthwith to the owner of such real property.” Further, the Realtor® Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 1-6, requires that all offers and counteroffers be presented as quickly as possible.
The law allows the seller to set the parameters, which includes specifying a date certain for all offers to be presented. However, it is important to remember that this decision must be the seller’s. An agent may not unilaterally make a determination to hold all offers until a date certain or place any other limitations on the presentation of offers. It is recommended that any seller instructions be reduced to writing to mitigate potential liability.
If there is a concern that a listing agent failed to present an offer to their seller, a buyer’s agent has the authority, under Standard of Practice 1-7, to request in writing that the listing broker provide written confirmation that the offer was submitted, or that the seller has waived the obligation. This does not place a requirement on the seller to formally sign the “rejection” portion of an offer but places the onus instead on the listing agent to confirm that they have complied with the law.
By: Justin Davidson, ESQ., Government Affairs Director & General Counsel
Catherine Taylor, ESQ., Associate Counsel
Jonathan Schreiber, ESQ., Staff Attorney
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