Your offer might not remain
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
There arent too many secrets left
in the world. Twenty-four, seven you can log on to any one
of a dozen Internet search engines and come up with information
about your long lost cousin or next door neighbor.
Despite specific rules governing offers and acceptance, real
estate transactions have always existed in a gray area of
confidentiality. That gray area became even fuzzier this year
when the National Association of Realtors changed its code
of ethics relating to disclosure of offers on properties.
Effective Jan. 1 of this year, agents representing buyers
in all member states of the National Association of Realtors,
including Florida, are required to inform clients that their
offers might not be kept confidential. If there are multiple
offers on a property and that day will come again, the seller
may now authorize his agent to disclose the existing offers
to other agents. The exact wording of this from the National
Association of Realtors Code of Ethics and Standards
of Practice is:
"Realtors, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating
brokers shall, with the sellers approval disclose the
existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized,
Realtors shall also disclose whether offers were obtained
by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm,
or by a cooperating broker."
Previously, the gold standard for realtors was to only offer
verification that another offer was being considered, without
giving any details and to encourage the buyer to make an offer,
since all offers must be presented to the seller.
This new standard of practice will make some realtors uncomfortable
with the ethics of disclosing offers, however, some will undoubtedly
view it as just another part of marketing the property. The
name of the game is selling the property. If "shopping
offers" works, is not illegal and is now not considered
unethical, why not use it as another marketing tool?
The decision on keeping offers confidential is, of course,
entirely up to the seller. This is a conclusion that should
be reached after a discussion with the sellers realtor
about the pros and cons of confidentiality and, more importantly,
the sellers personal ethics.
The disclosure of an offer to a potential buyer and his agent
can easily backfire. A buyer never likes to feel he is up
against a wall and might become so angry that he withdraws
his offer. Or he might not even make an offer, feeling that
he could not meet or exceed the existing offer, leaving the
seller with no offers if the first one doesnt work out.
In addition, by disclosing the offers in hand, a seller may
actually be tipping his hand as to what he would accept or
his bottom line.
It may sound exciting to divulge to a buyer that you already
have a full price offer and ask him to do better, but the
reality may not be that thrilling. Selling your home is essentially
a business and should be conducted by using fair and sensible
In todays Internet-obsessed world, there are precious
few ways to keep a secret. Maybe some things are just not
meant to be disclosed.