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Does a Seller Have to Respond to My Offer in NYC?

Posted by hauseit on March 14, 2019
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No. A seller has zero legal obligation to respond to your offer in NYC real estate. Nor is there any rule for how quickly a seller must respond to a buyer’s offer. For obvious reasons, it would only make sense for a seller to ignore your offer if it is unrealistic, lacking documentation, or if you’re not financially qualified.

It’s also possible that the lack of response from a seller means that there’s an accepted offer with another buyer or that the seller may have decided to delist her or his home and go off market.

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How Long Does a Seller Have to Respond to an Offer in NYC?

A seller has no time constraint or deadline when it comes to responding to offers in NYC. While listing agents in NYC are legally required to present all offers to sellers, there is no requirement for a seller to formally respond to any offers which are received.  Nor is there any requirement for a seller to respond to offers within a certain period of time.

On average, most sellers will respond to offers in NYC within one or two days. There are a number of reasons why it can take longer, and these include the following scenarios:

  • The listing is new-to-market, and the seller would like to hold another open house before responding to any offers.

A seller has zero legal obligation to respond to your offer in NYC real estate. Nor is there any rule for how quickly a seller must respond to a buyer’s offer.
  • There may be an emerging bidding war, so the seller is waiting to receive a few more offers before calling for best and final offers to be submitted.

  • The seller already has an accepted offer, and they’re waiting to see if the buyer signs the purchase contract before responding to any other offers including yours.

  • The seller thinks your offer is too low, and they don’t plan on responding for a few weeks if at all.

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What If a Seller Doesn't Respond to My Offer?

If a seller doesn’t respond to your offer, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and avoid becoming emotional. The reality is that there’s ultimately nothing you can do to force a seller to respond to your offer or to sell their home to you.

Furthermore, it’s always a good idea as a buyer in NYC or any other large metro area to submit offers on multiple units. Focusing on just one home is a recipe for heartbreak and disaster, as the NYC market is competitive and there are lots of buyers out there competing against you.

With that said, there are obviously instances where you’re in love with a property and would like to do whatever it takes to maximize your chances of buying it. Here are some things to consider if you haven’t received a response to your offer:

  • Is your offer price too low? What do the comps tell you about fair value for the property you submitted an offer on? Can you improve your offer price or put down more money?

  • Did you submit a fully documented offer, consisting of your pre-approval letter, proof of funds and your real estate attorney contact information?

  • If you submitted an offer on a co-op, are you financially qualified for the building? What is your DTI (Debt to Income Ratio) and post-closing liquidity?

  • Do you have any quirky contingencies, such as a sale contingency? Are you willing to remove the mortgage contingency to compete against all-cash and/or non-contingent offers?

  • Does your offer include any unreasonable requests, such as a delayed closing date or demands for the seller to do some renovation work?

If any of these scenarios apply to your offer, it’s worth going to back to the drawing board and figuring out what you’re willing to concede in order to get the deal done.

Prior to submitting any revised or improved offer, your buyer’s agent will put in a call to the listing agent to try and glean some intel as to the seller’s thought process for not responding to your offer.

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Advice for Dealing with a Non Responsive Seller

The best advice for dealing with a non-responsive seller is to remember that there are lots of strong personalities in real estate. You simply can’t force anyone to cooperate with you, accept your offer or agree to sell you their home. Getting worked-up or emotional will only worsen the emotional consequences of a seller not responding to your offer.

Once you’ve contextualized what is happening, the best advice is for you or your buyer’s broker to get in touch with the listing agent. Most listing agents will happily share some color as to why you’re not receiving a response from the seller. After all, listing agents ultimately want to get the deal done and earn commission as much as you may want to buy the property.

Based on the feedback you receive, you may be able to address any deficiencies in your offer and resubmit it for consideration. Once again, the only legal requirement here is that the listing agent must present your revised offer to the seller.

The seller has no obligation to counter your offer or even respond at all. However, most sellers will counter your offer if they’re happy to sell at the midpoint of your offer and their asking price. The same rule of thumb applies as a buyer when you’re strategizing about your initial offer price. Most negotiations ultimately end up meeting in the middle, and if the midpoint is too far apart the seller won’t bother to respond or counter in the first place.

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How Long Does a Seller Have to Accept an Offer?

There is no rule or regulation which forces a seller to accept an offer within a certain period of time. Furthermore, sellers in NYC can even accept an offer, back out and sell to a higher bidder (before the contract is signed) without any real consequences.

Some sellers even accept multiple offers and wait to see which buyer signs the contract first. Therefore, it’s very important as a buyer that you hire a responsive real estate lawyer who can swiftly and efficiency complete the pre-contract singing buyer due diligence and contract negotiations. Any delays will put you at risk of being outbid before you have the chance to sign the purchase contract.

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Acceptable Timeframe for a Seller to Answer an Offer in NYC

The acceptable timeframe for a seller to answer an offer in NYC is two business days. In most cases, a seller will respond within one business day. If a seller is traveling, it’s not unheard of for it to take three days or more to hear back even if you’ve submitted a highly competitive offer.

While it may seem like common sense to assume that sellers want to sell ASAP, the reality is that many sellers in NYC aren’t willing to go out of their way to respond to offers after 5pm, on weekends or at any point while they’re traveling. Some sellers simply value their quality of life and personal time more than trying to shave hours and days off of the length of the sale process. Therefore, it’s not always fair to assume that something bad is happening if you don’t hear back from a seller right away.

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How Long Does a Buyer Have to Respond to a Counter Offer?

There is no required response time for a buyer to respond to a seller’s counter offer. However, taking too long to respond may rub the seller the wrong way or leave you vulnerable to other offers from competing buyers.

On average, most buyers take a day or so to respond to a seller’s counter offer. It’s also a good idea as a buyer not to respond immediately, as it may result in the seller thinking that you’re desperate and possibly willing to pay more than what you’ve offered. This could give the seller second thoughts about moving forward with the sale at the agreed-upon price and terms.

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Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on Hauseit.com are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).

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