House hunting isn’t easy, but you finally found the perfect home in the perfect location for your needs. You made an offer — a good one — and you thought you would definitely get the home. However, your offer was rejected. Before you even had a chance to make another one, the house was sold.
Is that fair? Is it even legal? The answer depends on the situation. There are some entirely valid reasons that a seller can refuse an offer on their house, including these:
- They got a better offer from someone else: Your bid may have landed right on the heels of the other person’s bid for the house. If they offered more money, agreed to forgo any repairs or made other concessions to the seller, that’s a good enough reason for the seller to reject your offer and take their offer instead.
- They don’t trust you to get the financing. That’s one of the major reasons that buyers try to get pre-approval for their home loans before they start looking. That tells the seller that there’s less of a chance that the financing will fall through. Some sellers will outright refuse offers from buyers using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans simply because they believe that the FHA’s inspection requirements are too picky.
- You didn’t offer enough earnest money. Maybe you thought that you could just offer a few hundred dollars. However, the seller sees that as a sign that you might change your mind and bolt. If another buyer offered them more money, that may have translated to a more secure offer in the seller’s mind.
What if you suspect that the seller’s reason had nothing to do with any of that, however, and everything to do with your race, religion or the fact that you’re in a same-sex marriage? That’s illegal. The Fair Housing Act prohibits that kind of discrimination against buyers.
Knowing your rights is only half the battle when it comes to a successful real estate deal. It’s wise to have experienced legal representation if you’re buying a home. Given that this may be the largest financial transaction you ever make, it’s important to get it right.