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OCJoeR

Why isn't the listing of a house for sale in CA an "offer"?

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I'm obviously not familiar with California Real estate law but I've been told numerous times by RE Agents that the listing of a house for sale in the MLS or on Zillow or Realtor.com is NOT an offer to sell that house. None of them can tell me what it is but they contend that only a prospective buyer of the house can start the contract procedure by making an "Offer" to buy the house. And even if the prospective buyer offers the full price requested in the listing, the seller may still decide not to sell the house to them (not for any covered discriminatory reasons, but simply because they no think they can get more money).

 

This seems to fly in the face of all other retail sales laws. Would this not be like a car dealership putting a car on the lot for $28,895.00 and then telling a buyer who offers $28,895.00 that they do not want to sell the car to them? Is there some California statute that states that a property listed for sale by a seller at a specific price is not an offer to sell said property?

 

Joe

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The basic concept is that a listing of real property for sale is a solicitation of offers.  Because of the statute of frauds (google it) a contract for the sale or purchase of real property  is only valid if it is witnessed by a writing containing the signature of the party  charged with complying with the contract.  (I know there are exceptions so please don't flame me)  Sales of other types property are regulated by other, usually more lenient and permissive rules, like the Uniform Commercial Code.  

 

What it boils down to is that real estate is considered, and has been considered, a special form of property for the thousands of years of legal thought.

 

I might point out that a legitimate offer at the listed price may result in the seller owing the real estate agent his or her commission if the offer is rejected.

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Hi Retired,

Doesn't the seller sign the document that lists his/her house for sale? I'm pretty sure when I sold my house I signed a document allowing it to be listed on MLS for $xxx.xx. Now there are even sites like Zillow.com and others where parties can have their house listed. Wouldn't that suffice for the seller's signature and simply need a buyer for full price to submit their agreement to pay that amount? Would that not comply with the statute of frauds?

 

 

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No.

 

The document you (and others) sign with a real estate agent or a listing service is a contract that memorializes the obligations that the seller and the agent have to each other. It is not a purchase/sale agreement with a buyer.

 

 

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On 6/22/2019 at 5:03 PM, OCJoeR said:

This seems to fly in the face of all other retail sales laws.

 

It does?  Please cite a few of these laws so we can look them up.

 

Also, I wonder why you used the word "other" in this sentence?  Laws relating to the sale of real property are not "retail sales laws," and your attempt to analogize laws relating to the sale of real property to "retail sales laws" is more than a little off point.  You're also overlooking that contracts for the sale of real property have numerous material terms other than the price.

 

 

On 6/22/2019 at 5:03 PM, OCJoeR said:

Is there some California statute that states that a property listed for sale by a seller at a specific price is not an offer to sell said property?

 

No, but there doesn't have to be.  It is well established that advertisements are merely solicitations of offers.

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Hi Jack,

Just trying to buy a house and running into situations where we make a full price offer and it gets turned down or in one situation the description of the seller's house it stated " Up to $20,000 cash back/ upgrade allowance. Seller will pay buyer at the close of escrow." But then the seller said that it was only available if the buyer paid $20,000 above the price that the house was listed at. I think it's just that real estate has become what used car dealers used to be.

 

Joe

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1 hour ago, OCJoeR said:

I think it's just that real estate has become what used car dealers used to be.

 

You mean what used car dealers still are.

 

I got a chuckle at your last post. Not laughing at you. More of an ironic chuckle as I am closing on a house purchase this week after several months of looking and running into the same stuff that you've run into. The gimmicks, the games, the lying ads, photos that make everything look bigger, bidding wars. Not restricted to California. I'm in Arizona and that stuff happens here, too.

 

It's unfortunate that it's a seller's market and the more desirable homes get multiple offers within the first few days on the market and often get bid above listing price.

 

I'm an old guy who has had many years experience buying and selling a few houses along the way so I've gotten used to it all. I can tell you stories. You just have to keep plugging away at it until you find the house you want at the price you want and you just have to be willing to walk away when the BS starts. I walked away from plenty this year until I found the one that worked out for me.

 

Just keep at it and one will work out for you, too. But never trust anything a realtor or a seller tells you without verifying it. Buyers' agents are no better than sellers' agents. They are also whores to the commission.

 

After I move in, I'll put my old house up for sale and I'm sure I'll have a new round of BS from buyer's agents and low-balling flippers.

 

 

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The listing of a house in CA cannot be considered an offer because the owner of the house might not sell the house.

Listing of the house can be an act of knowing whether the house can get the owner more than what he was expecting or the real value of the house in the market.

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On 6/22/2019 at 6:03 PM, OCJoeR said:

Would this not be like a car dealership putting a car on the lot for $28,895.00 and then telling a buyer who offers $28,895.00 that they do not want to sell the car to them? Is there some California statute that states that a property listed for sale by a seller at a specific price is not an offer to sell said property?

 

It would be more like a seller putting an ad in the paper or on the internet to sell a car for $28,895.00, since the listing is essentially an ad. And the general rule in most every state is that an ad to sell something is NOT an offer in the contract law sense. Instead, it is treated as an invitation to make an offer. As a result, a car dealer might do the same thing: if the car he's selling is suddenly in demand or he sells out, he may well tell someone who walks in and plunks down $28,895.00 (plus taxes, fees, etc) that the dealer won't make the sale. There are consumer protection laws that protect against sellers abusing that concept, but the basic concept is the same.

 

And for certain sales, e.g. sales of goods over $500 (some states have raised that amount) and sales of real estate, ads couldn't meet the additional requirements of an offer under UCC or the statute of frauds anyway.

 

Yes, it sucks to be a home buyer when it's a seller's market. You often find you have to bid up the offer to get the house you want. Nothing illegal about it.

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13 hours ago, OCJoeR said:

real estate has become what used car dealers used to be.

 

Nothing has changed.  This is how real estate transactions have worked for decades.

 

 

10 hours ago, Ella Besanth said:

The listing of a house in CA cannot be considered an offer because the owner of the house might not sell the house.

 

You've got this backwards.  The seller has the ability to change his/her mind about selling because the listing is not an offer.  It certainly could be that a listing could be considered to be an offer and, if that were the case, then the seller would not have the ability to change his/her mind without consequence.

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