In real estate, if a seller says, he will accept an offer before signing it and multiple offers come in after, Can he accept a different offer?

  • That’s what I’m thinking however, via text, he Said if they did this, he would accept and sign the contract. That was yesterday about 4 o’clock and they did not send it until 1230 today however, in the meantime, he got a better offer Commented May 26 at 19:21
  • By did this, do you mean make an offer?
    – Tak
    Commented May 26 at 19:26
  • 7
    Real estate contracts have to be in writing in most jurisdictions. Until a written contract is signed there's no contract.
    – littleadv
    Commented May 26 at 19:52
  • Same in UK: until you "exchange contracts" there is no obligation. Of course both parties have to say "I will do this" before they can arrive at that point. It can go right up to the wire, with either party making another demand before the deal is complete. It's a nightmare, the worst system for one's biggest expenditure ever. Commented May 26 at 20:39
  • @WeatherVane it should and does protect both parties from half-thought-through verbal contracts which would be an even bigger nightmare.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented May 27 at 13:07

1 Answer 1



Unlike contracts for chattels or services, real estate contracts are not binding until they are reduced to writing and signed by both parties. With some additional complications for properties sold at auction.

For properties sold by private treaty, the contracts are usually signed in parts (i.e. each party signs a different physical but contents same document) and then exchanged. Until each party has a copy signed by the other, neither is under any obligation.

  • In Germany real estate sales are only valid if performed at (witnessed by) a notary.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented May 27 at 13:06
  • 4
    This really needs a country tag. OP did not add one to her question, so I would not assume she is from the same country as you. This answer is not correct for my country for example.
    – Opifex
    Commented May 27 at 15:22

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