Q & A: Seller took another offer, even though ours was higher?

Q:  We recently submitted an offer on a home in Pleasanton.  We were one of 8 offers.  Our agent told us the seller accepted another offer, but was vague as to the reasons why.  We assumed it must have been a higher offer.  Well, we just found out that the sale closed at a lower price than what we offered.  Obviously we are not happy!  We feel it is unfair, and there must have been some kind of shady dealing going on.  What can we do?  We are heartbroken.  Abu

A:  Abu I appreciate the question.  The fact of the matter is that a seller can accept any offer, regardless of price or terms.  It is at the seller’s sole discretion.  And with 8 offers, you only have a 12.5% chance of getting your offer accepted just based on the number of offers.  The only exception to this is if you can prove discrimination on the part of the seller because of race, religion, or another protected class.  But absent of discrimination, it is completely up to the seller.  They can accept an offer lower in price than yours, or can accept an offer with loan contingencies over an all cash offer, or with a longer close than you are offering.  It is up to the seller.  There is no law that requires the seller to accept the highest offer.  There is no law that requires the seller to give you a counter offer.

Sometimes sellers will accept a lower price for stronger terms, with short and/or waived contingencies.  Other times they may elect to go with a buyer who offers them a rent back.  Other times they may just one of other buyers better.  I recently had a seller accept an offer from a disabled War Vet over our higher offer.  Again, it is not illegal.  It is at the seller’s discretion.  Another possible explanation is that the offer they accepted may have been equal to or higher than yours, but there was a price renegotiation due to repairs or some other issue.  My best advice is to do what you can to make your offer more attractive to sellers and try again with the next house.  As always, please consult an attorney if you for legal advice.  Happy hunting!