Sponsored: Pre-emptive purchase offers could lead to Fair Housing Act questions

Q: Twice we waited to make an offer on a property and were automatically notified the house was under contract. Our buyer’s agent put us on a Multiple Listing Service alert system. When properties come on the market or the home is changed to Sale Pending status, we are alerted by email. In these cases, each seller and their seller’s agent listed their offer deadline in the advertising. Both sellers appeared to want their houses to have a whole week’s exposure on the market. Unfortunately, they accepted pre-emptive purchase offers two and three days before their offer deadlines. Why even have a deadline if one is not going to adhere to it? 

A: Critically low housing inventory for sale combined with low interest rates has created another surge of pre-emptive offers. It is safe to say the homebuyers making these pre-emptive offers, prompted by their buyer’s agents, have previously been the “loser” in multiple-offer situations. Their buyer’s agents suggested ignoring the offer deadline and submitted high offers with favorable seller terms to be winners. Although inappropriate or unprofessional, real estate attorneys claim it is legal.

It could become illegal when a seller’s agent appears to break the Fair Housing laws. An acceptance of a pre-emptive offer could easily be a setting for a Fair Housing violation. For example, the sellers and their seller’s agent are Caucasians. Their house sells after receiving a pre-emptive offer on Wednesday. The buyers are a childless white couple. However, over the previous five days, the seller’s agent had told families of color, a gay couple, a disabled person and a single mother wearing a hijab, “No offers until Friday at 4 p.m.” The timeline and fact pattern could lead one of the aggrieved parties to file a discrimination complaint with the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Fair warning about Fair Housing: Unfair behavior while renting or selling a house might be addressed in a courthouse.

Realtor Pat Kapowich also provides practical and tactical tips for homebuyers and home sellers at YouTube.com/PatKapowich and SiliconValleyBroker.com Contact him at 408-245-7700, Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com DRE# 00979413

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Author: Pat Kapowich