That seemingly endless waiting period when you’re on pins and needles to find out if your offer to buy a house has been accepted can be more than a bit stressful. In an ideal world, the seller would notify you within 24 hours if your offer is accepted, rejected, or being countered. In reality, getting word from the seller can take longer.
But what if the online listing has changed or disappeared entirely? Does that mean your offer was accepted? Well, no.
“If you do not have a signed contract returned to you, then you can only assume that you did not get the deal,” says David Welch, a Realtor® in Winter Park, FL.
How soon should you hear back on your offer?
The National Association of Realtors® states that an agent should submit offers and counteroffers objectively and as quickly as possible. However, that guideline is vague and can mean different things to different people. So how long should it usually take for you to hear back on your offer?
In a standard sale, two to three days is a reasonable amount of time for buyers to wait to hear if their offer was accepted.
“If there are multiple offers, they may not be required to inform you, but out of courtesy, they should at least tell you if they took another offer,” says Welch. “Likewise, if your offer was accepted, they should let you know and return a copy of the signed acceptance.”
What to do if you don’t hear back on your offer
If about a week has passed since you submitted your offer and you still haven’t heard from the seller’s agent, it probably means your offer was not accepted. But it still makes sense to have your agent follow up with the listing agent to get a response.
It’s frustrating to not get the opportunity to counter—or, for that matter, move on knowing your offer was rejected. Your real estate agent should reach out to the listing agent to find out what happened, even if the end result is not what you hoped for.
Why sellers don’t respond to offers
There are lots of reasons a seller might ignore your offer. Some sellers instruct their agents to not show them any offers below a certain amount, so lowball offers are likely thrown out.
Multiple offers could be on the table, and the seller’s agent and the seller could be keeping your offer as a backup in case the other offers fall through. While it’s courteous to inform you that your offer is still being considered, sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle of responses across multiple offers.
The issue could also be entirely unrelated to real estate. If the sellers went out of town or experienced an illness, death in the family, or emergency, they might not be responding to anything for the time being. Likewise, the seller’s agent could have had a personal emergency.
When to walk away
Goodbyes can be hard, but there might come a time when it makes sense to walk away from a property. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your real estate agent to determine how long you’re willing to wait to hear back on an offer. But keep in mind, if the seller’s agent is radio silent after a couple of weeks, the odds of things working out for you are slim.
Barring an emergency, an agent who ignores you after you’ve shown enough interest to make an offer is probably not somebody you want to work with. Unless the property is one of a kind, it makes sense to move on. After all, having your offer accepted is just the first step in the long process of buying a home, and you need someone who will be responsive as you go through the stages of inspection, appraisal, funding, and closing. The process is already stressful without an unresponsive listing agent slowing you down.
Joe Barbee – ABR,MRP
Barbee Dream Homes Real Estate Group