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Q&A: Does a Realtor have to present my offer?

Q: I want to make a $200,000 offer on a $325,000 house I’ve been eyeing for months. I know that my Realtor and the seller will think the offer is ridiculous, but I’m just curious for a reaction. Does the agent have to submit my offer?

A: Yes, says real estate attorney William Horan of Horan and Wagner in Commack. “The Realtor is legally obligated to make your offer -- even if it’s ridiculous. Of course, they’ll try to tell you it’s not likely to have a chance and encourage you to up the ante. But the Realtor must let the seller decide for himself. Sometimes there are other factors influencing a homeowner’s decision that the Realtor may not be privy to -- divorce, death, illness, grandchildren in another state -- and they may think the loss is worth it.”

More often, however, the seller will take a lowball offer as a signal to negotiate, adds Horan. “You may say $200,000, but he knows that you mean $240,000 or $260,000.” If you make a counter offer, then the seller knows if you’re serious or not. The seller then has the option to negotiate back, or just say "no thanks" and move on to the next interested buyer. Horan advises that if your instinct tells you that the Realtor never made the offer, you can always go to the seller yourself to check.

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