Everything's In Writing in Real Estate . . . EXCEPT For This!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with BuyersAgentPortland.com | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time Licensed State of Oregon

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We have all grown up with the real estate mantra of:

Get it in writing!

If it's not in writing, it didn't happen, right?!?

This concept makes absolute sense, so we abide and get it signed off.

From a legal standpoint, the written word does not have a life of its own.  While it can be "interpreted," our real estate industry is not (that) convoluted as, say, the legal industry -- which seems to have the tendency to muddle things to the Nth degree.  Who can forget the infamous legal muddle:  " 'It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is' "

If it's not in writing, it didn't happen, right?!?

Throughout my experience in BOTH industries -- real estate and legal -- real estate is far more navigational.  However, there has been some waters which seem quite troubling to me.   Call it a "vortex" if you will, but it certainly is proving to be a very disturbing trend.  

Despite all the "Get it in writing" blather . . . why is it, then, that this one aspect of the offer is NOT covered? 

Here's the scenario:  I submit an offer.  The listing agent tells me "We have another offer.  Submit your highest and best."

Hmmmmmmmm . . . PROVE IT!

How do I know they're telling me the truth?  It's easy to lie when there's no checks and balances.  


True story #1:  I toured a home with clients.  The following day, the listing agent calls and says "We have an offer.  If your clients want to submit one, make it their highest and best."  

My clients had no further interest in that property.  But, what if they did?  That psychological sense of "urgency" . . . would that have been in play?  Should I have mentioned this verbal from the listing agent?  We had no proof.

One week later, I notice the listing is CANCELLED.  (Not re-listed).  Yeah, highest and best . . . my butt!


True story #2:  I toured a home with clients.  The following day I get an email from the listing agent that reads:  "We had an offer that was OVER asking.  Multiple offers.  Buyer couldn't get financing.  BOM. " 

If there were multiple offers, then why didn't the listing agent take back-ups?   And the "timing" is just wrong, wrong, wrong!


  • I've had listing agents "hint" that there would be other offers coming in -- competing with mine.


  • I've had listing agents call me AFTER I've submitted an offer to let me know "Another offer just came in.  Is this your clients' highest and best?"



I find if there is NO PROOF required, nothing in writing, then how do I know if there are, actual offers competing -- the listing agents "word" ?!?  OMIGOSH . . . how convenient.

All things in writing . . . EXCEPT for this??

That does not protect the Buyer and it allows the listing agent way, way, WAY too much . . . carte blanche

I dislike BLANK CHECKS.  And to me this is a HUGE ONE!


Posted by

Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results


Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner

Direct: 503-810-7192 | BuyersAgentPortland.com | Carla@BuyersAgentPortland.com

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Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Carla, it's called maintaining a reputation.  Some listing agents call me to say there is a bidding war brewing, and I believe them.  I'll include an escalator clause with my offer.  Other agents call, and I know they are full of it.  

Sep 17, 2016 09:58 AM #10
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

I agree that it doesn't make sense that we have rules for just about everything else, but not this. I also agree with a couple of the other comments. We know our  market. We know which neighborhoods are hot and if a house is likely to get more than one offer on it. We also know our agents. Reputation is everything. 

Sep 17, 2016 11:12 AM #11
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I have a listing that one agent said they were writing an offer and the second agent called asking about other offers and I told her there was a rumor one was coming in, however I have not received it yet.  Neither one came in!

Sep 17, 2016 02:03 PM #12
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Clearly not the tactics or conduct of a professional referring to your two examples. Shallow, shoot from the hip, selfish tactics identify the user every time

Sep 17, 2016 11:52 PM #13
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I get everything in writing--sign here please.

Sep 18, 2016 12:36 AM #14
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192
BuyersAgentPortland.com | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results


NOTE:  And just think kids, what if . . . you told your client what you were "verbally" told from the listing agent?  What if your client offered their highest and best -- and it was MORE than what they wanted to offer?  What if they found out (somehow) that there were NO other offers?

I am not going to take the "we have other offers" at face value anymore. It my be smoke up our butts.  And if my clients listened to me and submitted they offer based on a "verbal" from the listing agent, which I repeated . . . that's not fair.  That's not ethical and who is going to get burned??

JUST PUT IT IN WRITING.  "The Sellers of property 123 Any St. have received an offer submitted by ABC Realty Co, Inc. (and if there are more, include each brokerage)"  SIGNED and DATED BY SELLERS.


Sep 18, 2016 02:46 AM #15
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Carla, I think it all reverts back to unscrupulous agents in this industry, who should be weeded out.

Sep 18, 2016 03:43 AM #16
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     A Listing Agent called to tell me that, "The seller accepted a higher offer than your buyer's offer, sorry."

     My unhappy buyer contacted the Seller directly, to ask why his offer had not been countered.  The Seller said he had NEVER SEEN our offer.  The Listing Agent flat out lied - he had not presented our offer.

    Seller got out of the other offer, my buyer got the property.  The LA was terminated by his employing Broker, and I heard that he faced disciplinary action from the Florida Real Estate Commission.

    A happy ending for my buyer (and me), but how many times does this occur, and the Seller and/or other Realtors never find out?


Sep 18, 2016 05:56 AM #17
Melissa Jackson
United Country Real Estate FW - Fort Worth, TX
REALTOR® Matching Buyers & Sellers

Sounds like agents are pushing their limits. Maybe they are thinking this type of "urgency" will nudge the buyer.  I've had an agent call and tell me the same thing.  

Sep 18, 2016 12:45 PM #18
Praful Thakkar
eXp Realty - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 - I am not so happy when this happens! Right now, an offer on a home on which my buyer WAS interested. Got a call from listing agent that they are 'negotiting' the offer, if my buyers want it, send it best and highest.

A week later, the home is still on market!

Not sure why do they have to do it?

One more place where the listing agent does not need to give anything in writing - Escalation Clause. (Once we disclose what buyers want, that becomes the highest and best for seller - even when they don't have any other offer!)

Sep 18, 2016 03:50 PM #19
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Excellent advice on dealing with agents. Thanks for sharing

Sep 18, 2016 08:17 PM #20
Sham Reddy
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

You hit the nail on the head!!!

Not everything needs to be written on paper.  I too have stories to that.

Sep 18, 2016 09:23 PM #21
Deb McNeill
Flying M Team Small World Realty Fort Worth, Tx - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

I've often thought the very same thing--how could the agent prove there were other offers.

My own practice is to never indicate multiple offers until I have them in hand, then set a best and final time and date.

Sep 19, 2016 06:15 AM #22
Jill Sackler
Broker Associate, Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "Said and Done!" - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

I love this subject matter. I've often wondered about this myself.

Sep 19, 2016 07:21 AM #23
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

I just negotiated my seller's listing through multiple offers. Nobody asked for proof but they knew I would not be sandbagging them. The seller asked for highest and best in writing and both buyers responded with good solid offers.

Sep 19, 2016 11:05 AM #24
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty - Arlington, VA

Great post! Being old school, I still have copies of sales contracts that were two pages long and recall when you could take most agents at their word. Unfortunately, no mas. 

Sep 19, 2016 09:26 PM #25
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Sounds like a little fibbing is going on . . . .  sad.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 20, 2016 11:14 AM #26
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Congratulations on being awarded the feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 20, 2016 11:16 AM #27
Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

I think the time has come when Agents who are fibbing about having other offers will catch up with them - of course, I can't prove it, but it sure does sound suspicious. 

Sep 26, 2016 07:49 AM #28
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

good evening Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 , I agree with you on this one.  Have a great week.

Sep 27, 2016 01:45 PM #29
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