What is an Offer to Purchase?

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 do not have a written contract, agreed to by all the parties, then you do not have an enforceable real estate contract.

An offer to purchase 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 are offering (based on data provided by your Realtor, the amount you intend as your down payment and financing details, as well as your name and address and 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.).

If your Realtor® is your agent, s/he can advise you every step of the way when you make an Offer to Purchase. If your Realtor is not giving you agency representation s/he cannot give you advice nor reveal confidential information about any clients they might have. But they can, for example, explain the standard forms you will be asked to sign.

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 his/her Realtor written instructions to the contrary.

Sellers’ Realtors are obligated to advise buyers’ Realtor 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 being presented, the offers are presented to the seller in the order in which they were received. Buyers’ Realtors may only be present when their own buyer’s offer is presented to the seller.

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

Sellers are entitled to deal with offers as they choose. Sellers do not have to accept an offer even if it is for the full asking price. Sellers are not obligated to counter an offer or otherwise respond to an offer, although most do.

In multiple offer presentations, the seller can accept or counter any offer of his/her choosing, and is not bound to deal with the highest or first offer if s/he does not wish to do so.

Sellers’ Realtors are obligated to advise buyers’ Realtors of the seller’s decision in writing, if they are asked to. Seller’s Realtors are not 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 instead of another buyer’s offer.

Remember: even though a Realtor has drafted the buyer’s offer he/she is not a party to that contract. Realtors cannot force their clients to fulfil contractual terms (or to deal with your offer).

If the buyer or seller does not fulfil the commitments they have made in the contract the injured party may have legal recourse and should seek the advice of a lawyer.