When you decide to buy a property, your REALTOR® will prepare what is known as an Offer to Purchase. The standard form used for this is called the Contract of Purchase and Sale. Once accepted by the parties it becomes the contract between the buyer and seller.

Verbal offers

It’s important to note that while any verbal communication about offers, counter-offers and acceptance of offers can be useful to the parties, in British Columbia a contract dealing with land is not enforceable against the parties unless it has been made in writing and properly signed by all parties to the contract. If you don't have a written contract agreed to by all the parties, then you don't have an enforceable real estate contract.

Offer to Purchase

It contains the date of your offer, the description of the property you are making the offer on, the amount of your deposit, the amount you're offering (based on data provided by your Realtor), the amount you intend as your down payment, financing details, your name and address, the name and address of the owner of the property you want to buy, subject-to clauses, closing dates, and any special requirements you want to impose on sellers (for example, you want the kitchen appliances).

Your Realtor can advise you every step of the way when you make an Offer to Purchase.

Presentation of offer

Once your offer has been prepared and you have signed it, it will be presented to the seller without delay through the seller’s Realtor (unless otherwise instructed by the seller).

Buyers’ Realtors have a right to be present when their buyers’ offers are presented to sellers unless the seller has given their Realtor written instructions to the contrary.

Sellers’ Realtors are obligated to advise buyers’ Realtor's in advance if more than one offer is to be presented unless they have received written instructions from the seller to do otherwise. If more than one offer is presented, they're presented to the seller in the order in which they were written. Buyers’ Realtors may only be present when their own buyer’s offer is presented to the seller.

Decision time

Once all the offers have been presented, the seller’s Realtor and the seller consult in private and decide how they will deal with any offers.

Sellers are entitled to deal with offers as they choose. Sellers don't have to accept an offer even if it's for the full asking price. Sellers aren't obligated to counter an offer or otherwise respond to an offer.

In multiple offer presentations, the seller can accept or counter any offer of their choosing, and is not bound to deal with the highest or first offer.

Sellers’ Realtors are obligated to advise buyers’ Realtors of the seller’s decision in writing, if they're asked to. Seller’s Realtors aren't obligated to disclose any information about other buyers’ offers nor the seller’s reasons for dealing with a particular offer.

As agents for their clients, both sellers’ and buyers’ Realtors must not reveal confidential information about their clients.

Buyers who are involved in a multiple offer presentation should consider making their best offer, the first time, to encourage the seller to deal with their offer.

Remember: even though a Realtor drafted the buyer’s offer they aren't a party to that contract. Realtors can't force their clients to fulfil contractual terms (or to deal with your offer).

If the buyer or seller doesn't fulfil the commitments they've made in the contract the injured party should seek the advice of a lawyer.