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Responding to an Offer: What are My Legal Obligations?

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Responding to an Offer: What are My Legal Obligations?

Your house is on the market and you’re waiting for a good offer, so what comes next? Selling your house can be a daunting project, you’ll likely receive more than one offer, and you may receive offers that you don’t like.

Before you respond to an offer, make sure you understand your legal obligations during the process of negotiations, responses, rejection and acceptance.

Do I need to respond?

There is no legal obligation for the seller to respond to an offer they are not interested in. It is however courteous and important if you want to keep the buyer interested. If someone offers a price that is far too low or involves conditions that you cannot accept, then you have every right to completely ignore the offer and continue searching for the right buyer.

When to respond?

Three days is typically the maximum amount of time you should wait before responding to an offer, however it is common courtesy to respond within the first 24 to 48 hours.

We recommend responding within the first 24 hours to illustrate your professionalism and consideration. Keep in mind that an offer can legally be withdrawn at any time before acceptance. If you wait too long and the buyer changes their mind, it is legal and fair for them to withdraw their offer.


If you have received an offer that you’re interested in, you can respond with a counteroffer. A counteroffer will vary depending on the seller and what they’re comfortable with. Examples include responding with:

  • A higher price
  • A change within the contract, eg. You may propose accepting a lower offer but removing some of the previously included furniture.
  • Changing or removing conditions, eg. house inspection, repairs.
  • Removing previously included fees.

Once you have responded with a counteroffer, sit back and wait for the buyer’s next response. They may accept your counteroffer and agree to close the deal, or they may respond with a new offer to your counteroffer.


If you receive an offer or a counteroffer that you’re not interested in, you can reject it. This can be done by responding to the offer in writing, verbally telling the potential buyer, or just writing the word ‘rejected’ over the offer and sending it back.

If you have absolutely no interest in the offer, you have no obligation to respond. If the offer is not quite what you’re looking for, we recommend responding with either a counteroffer or a rejection. Rejecting an offer may prompt potential buyers to negotiate and send another offer.

Closing the deal.

Ultimately, the best way to get the perfect price for your house is by being a good negotiator. That means being open and communicative with potential buyers, and being willing to meet in the perfect middle ground. Your expectations shouldn’t be set too high, but you also shouldn’t accept an offer unless you think it’s fair.

Once you have come to an agreement with a buyer, you’re nearing the end of the deal. Make sure you’re comfortable with the contract, and then sign away!

Receiving offers on your house is extremely exciting, but don’t rush to accept an offer that doesn’t feel right for you.

Understanding your legal obligations is crucial to understanding the negotiation process between buyer and vendor. When you receive the right offer; now you know what to do! Good luck!