How to Decide on Offers

What to do with the offers you receive will depend on your initial goals for the sale of your home

Firm Offers

The words every seller loves to hear and a Realtor® loves to report:  Sold Firm!  When your home is sold ‘firm’, it means more than a firm handshake promise:  it means that the buyer is prepared, and legally obligated, to purchase your house or condo outright, without any conditions.  If you accept the offer, the home will belong to the buyer upon closing, barring any (rare) issues with lawyers searching title.  The 5% deposit the buyer submitted along with their offer will be held in trust by Jamie’s real estate office towards the buyer’s total down payment.  When closing day rolls around, you will finally let go of all responsibility towards the property.

What is a firm offer?

  • Is known as a ‘bird in the hand’; even if other offers you may receive have stronger terms, if they are conditional, they do not actually represent a deal yet,
  • Shows that the buyer is 100% serious about purchasing your home,
  • Means you can take your home off the market immediately and move on with your own home search or other plans.

Conditional Offers

This means that the buyer has placed one or more conditions on the purchase; though he or she is still submitting a deposit along with the offer, there are certain stipulations that, unless they are satisfied by an agreed-upon date, mean that the deposit can be returned to the buyer without prejudice.  For instance, a sale might be conditional upon the buyer obtaining a satisfactory home inspection within five business days of the offer date. If the inspector comes back with an unsatisfactory report, the buyer can back out of the deal with a Mutual Release.  The home is not legally sold until all the conditions in the offer, which usually appear on a Schedule (addendum) to the offer, have been met and waived or fulfilled.

The Offer Presentation

Offers will usually be presented to you during a formal meeting between yourselves, Jamie, and the buyer’s Realtor®, while the buyers wait with bated breath somewhere nearby.  You have three options once you have reviewed an offer:  you can accept the offer, reject it, or submit a counter-offer.  In the case of multiple offer situations (a.k.a. bidding wars) the process may naturally take a long time and be a stressful one for everyone involved:  you may be rejecting offers out of hand, or relaying advice to the buyers’ agents via Jamie.  Jamie is always there to advise you of the desirability of accepting, rejecting, or signing back a particular offer so that you are thrilled with the result.

Counter offers are often called ‘signbacks’ and they are desirable in terms of keeping negotiations open.  You might make a counter-offer in reference to the price, the closing date, or any number of other variables that work better for you than what the buyer has initially proposed.  Jamie will help you strategize an appropriate response based on your plans and goals.  Sometimes it will be in your best interests to walk away from the table altogether – for instance, if the buyer’s upper price limit differs too far from your expectations.

The offers can go back and forth until both parties have agreed, or until one party ends the negotiations.

22 thoughts on “How to Decide on Offers

September 8, 2013 at 5:35 am
Kim says:

Can an offer that was signed and accepted by both parties, be cancelled by the seller? All though there was an extention granted all conditions have been met. Is the original offer accepted binding?

September 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Kim,
I will contact you directly. I have just emailed you a request for your phone number so that I can better assist you.

September 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm
Shona says:

I had the same question as Kim. Could you please answer it for me? Thanks!

September 20, 2013 at 9:21 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Shona,
I will be contacting you offline.
Thanks for reading my post.

October 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm
Doreen says:

Hi – what a great site!
I have just accepted a conditional offer on my home – conditional upon the sale of the buyer’s home and financing. What would happen if another buyer comes buy and provides me with another offer to purchase, with better or no conditions?

October 25, 2013 at 9:59 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Doreen,
Can you call me at the office? 416-489-2121.
Thank you,

January 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm
nathen says:

Have the same question as kim, and we r in big trouble.anything can be done? but i am the buyer though…

January 22, 2014 at 10:46 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Nathen,
I will contact you directly to discuss.

March 23, 2014 at 11:49 am
marlen landry says:

I also have just accepted a conditional offer on my home – conditional upon the sale of the buyer’s home and financing. What would happen if another buyer comes buy and provides me with another offer to purchase, with better or no conditions?

May 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm
shona says:

I too accepted a conditional offer from a buyer upon inspection. What if someone else comes along and wants to make a firm offer.

May 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Joanne says:

I currently have an offer on a property that I am selling. We have counter offered, and the buyer has just responded with another counter offer. In the meantime, we have another potential buyer interested. Can he submit an offer now, while we are in the midst of the first offer or can he only submit the offer if we end up declining the first offer.

July 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm
RD says:

I am wondering the same thing. A conditional offer depending on the sale of the buyers home, has been made for our home. The offer expires Friday- inspection is scheduled for Thurs night. Are we supposed to have confirmation of the offer BEFORE it expires on Friday?

February 1, 2015 at 10:33 am
Pamela says:

I had posted my house for sale on Kijiji on the Montreal site. I received an offer and a signed offer to purchase form to buy within 10 days. It’s past the 10 days. I called the potential buyers. They said they will call the notary to see what is going on. In the meantime I received another inquiry on my house. Am I allowed to show the house and see what they are willing to offer?

June 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm
gail says:

A buyer firmed up on a house we wanted..could we ask the seller to cancel the sale and give them more for the house or is it a done deal we being the loosers

November 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm
MNT says:

Hi Jamie
Can a real estate agent make you sign an offer without informing you that it is a firm offer then later tell you it is a firm after you realise there is a problem with the status certificate…are firm offers written firm on them…also can a real estate agent draft a firm offer for a first time home buyer without letting them know it is a firm offer ?

November 18, 2015 at 4:34 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Normally an offer is written conditional based upon the review of a Status Certificate. I would suggest that you speak with your agent and your lawyer to see what options are available at this point based upon your particular situation.
Best regards,
Jamie Sarner

September 11, 2016 at 8:27 pm
Jessi says:

hi, may I have a question? I put an offer on a house I like, the agent said it is not good enough to get the deal and someone had offered a better one, so he got it.(I did not have a chance to put an other offer) Then on the weekend she has an open house. Can a house on condition sold has an open house in the between or she is cheating me?

November 9, 2016 at 10:32 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Jessi,
I suggest you consult with the realtor in question if the house isn’t back in the market. If you have any more questions or are in need of a new realtor, please contact me directly on my email or phone.
Jamie Sarner

September 29, 2017 at 10:10 pm
Azhar says:

I gave unconditional offer as a buyer and seller accepted it unconditionally in april when housing market was too hot . closing date has passed ,due to govt efforts to cool down housing market new regulations effected the market and house prices have fall. I paid initial deposit of $40000 . I am failed to get the closing due to financing. Now seller sent me notice of $150000 and keeping $40000 due to breach of agreement but my question is he did not put the condition in the contract from both sides that I will be charged for the penalties ” no written statement” . Am i still liable. ?

October 3, 2017 at 7:39 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Azhar,
There are liability issues and responsibility issues. Each situation is unique. It is best that you consult your lawyer about this.

Best regards,

December 21, 2020 at 12:24 pm
mosa khan says:

Hi Jamie,
When I am doing a firm deal with a buyer, wondering if I could add/discuss the potential of adding a penalty of say $150,000 in case the buyer fails to close the deal for any reason (e.g., non-approval of required mortgage). What are the current practices in the market? Is there a government authority or trust that would take responsibility to make sure the buyer pays the money/penalty to the seller, if the deal is registered with that trust, by the dint of paying them some fees? Or, it becomes a long legal battle at the end of the day, and the timeline/outcome is also uncertain? Your thoughts? Kind regards, Mitul

March 11, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Fola says:

Please, what make an offer to be firm?

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