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Offers & Related Issues

If you make an offer on a house and the owner comes back with a counter offer and you agree to it can the owner still change his mind and sell to someone else?

A seller is free to withdraw the counter-offer any time prior to your acceptance of it. The communication method for acceptance is usually described in the contract. If your acceptance was communicated to the seller in the method required by the contract (prior to the seller withdrawing the offer), the seller should honor the contract with you and not entertain other offers. But people don’t always do what they should. The problem then becomes whether you try to enforce your contract or not, which requires legal advice and expenses. For that, you have to consult an attorney. Although you could probably technically enforce the contract, you have to reach a decision on whether it makes sense to expend the time and money to do so. Or does it make more sense to realize the seller is unethical and just move on to buy something different?

Can you negotiate when making an offer on a new home?

Making an offer on new construction is not the same as making an offer on a resale. Most of the time, the margin for profit is so small on new construction (per unit) that there is basically little or no negotiating. You can try, of course, because “everything in real estate is negotiable,” but do not expect too much.

Can you negotiate the price of a bank-owned home

Everything in real estate is negotiable. However, banks are more sophisticated about pricing than they were years ago. So those “Get a great deal on a foreclosure!” days aren’t what they used to be. Lowball offers generally don’t go very far.

What is Lead-Based Paint?

The federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 and the subsequent regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency generally apply to sale or lease transactions of residential property constructed before 1978. Sellers and lessors of housing to which the regulations apply must provide a federal pamphlet of information on the risks of lead paint and perform other duties, including disclosing all known lead-based paint on the property and providing all testing reports. Any real estate practitioner hired by a seller or lessor to market the property must ensure that the seller or lessor complies with the requirements of the regulations. Under the Act, a buyer also has the right to conduct lead-based paint testing on the property. To learn more, explore NAR’s resources about lead-based paint.

What is RESPA?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act was enacted by Congress in 1974. Its goal is to provide consumers with various protections in the home buying processes and, ultimately, to reduce the cost of homeownership. RESPA focuses on services provided in connection with the settlement of a federally insured mortgage loan. It regulates “abusive” practices by outlawing unearned fees and kickbacks and requires that consumers be provided with information about the settlement process and full disclosure of associated fees. In addition to the federal law, several states have adopted their own versions of legislation addressing these issues, which often are more stringent than RESPA. To learn more about the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and related issues, visit NAR’s RESPA page.

What Is Fair Housing?

Fair housing laws are intended to eliminate discriminatory behavior from the housing market. There are both federal and state fair housing laws, and most of these laws apply equally to the sale and rental of property. The federal fair housing laws prohibit housing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, and familial status. The laws prohibit conduct such as the refusal to sell or rent housing for discriminatory reasons; steering, which is designed to influence a person’s housing choice toward a certain neighborhood based on a discriminatory purpose; and blockbusting, which is an attempt to create sales by playing on discriminatory fears of a community that people of a certain group are moving into the area.