What Happens If You Made An Offer On A House But Received No Response?
Sam Hawrylack6-minute read
September 26, 2021
You made an offer on a house and heard nothing back. You sit there and scratch your head wondering what you did wrong. And what’s with the radio silence?
The truth is, sellers don’t have a legal obligation to respond to you. If they don’t like your offer, they don’t have to say anything. Some sellers don’t want to be bothered, and in other cases, the seller received a better offer.
Understanding why a house seller is not responding can help you learn how to approach the next house you want to bid on.
Why The House Seller Is Not Responding
Every seller is different – they won’t always have the same reason for not responding to a purchase offer, but here are the most common reasons.
The Offer Was Too Low
Sometimes sellers don’t bother with a response when the offer is too low. But how low is too low?
It depends on the situation. Most sellers won’t acknowledge an offer that’s 10% less than the market value. It’s insulting to them, and they don’t want to deal with the back and forth of a counteroffer. Some sellers may even be offended by the lowball offer like you are trying to take advantage of them.
Sometimes a low offer also signifies that you aren’t serious. You are just throwing a dart out there to see if it sticks. Again, sellers won’t waste their time, especially if you’re bidding during a seller’s market.
Yet, in some cases, sellers can’t counter multiple offers at once or even make more than one counter on one specific offer.
The Offer Was Too High
It seems backward, a house seller not responding could be due to your offer being too high. When an offer is too high, most real estate agents will advise their client not to accept it. Here’s why.
Unless the buyer is paying cash, which most cash buyers don’t bid over the asking price or even near it, they’ll need financing. No lender will approve a loan for the full amount if the buyer offered more than the home is worth. The lender will require an appraisal and use that value to determine your loan amount.
If you made an offer on a house with no response, check the market value of homes in the area. If your offer was much higher, you have your answer.
They Received A Better Offer
In today’s market, chances are you aren’t the only person looking at the home. The seller may receive a handful of offers at the same time. Sellers have just as much time in their day as you do, so they may prioritize the offers, responding only to those they want to counter or consider.
What makes an offer better than your offer?
Money always talks, of course. An offer for a higher amount but within the market value will catch a seller’s attention faster than a lower offer. Sometimes it’s not about the money, though. Sellers also look closely at contingencies. If you have a handful of contingencies in your offer, but another buyer doesn’t, yours may not receive a response because they chose the other offer.
You Didn’t Meet Their Needs
Just like you have needs in a home, sellers have needs in the contract and the terms of sale. Sellers may need:
- Your lender to write a Verified Approval Letter. This gives sellers peace of mind knowing you’re qualified to buy the house and won’t back out of the contract, leaving them back at square one selling the home.
- A shorter escrow period because they are in a hurry to move. If they are relocating or have other urgent reasons to move fast, they may choose someone who can close in a few weeks.
- More time to close because their new home won’t be ready yet. If the seller is buying a house at the same time as selling their current home, they may need more time in their current home until their new house is ready.
- A higher earnest money deposit. Sellers in some areas want high earnest money deposits to guarantee you’re serious about buying the home. If you can’t make a large enough deposit, they may ignore your offer.
- You to ignore the details of the home inspection and not require them to pay for and make the repairs. Some sellers don’t want to be bothered with the home’s issues. They are selling it and want to be done.
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Does The Seller Have To Respond To Your Offer?
Although frustrating, sellers aren’t legally obligated to respond to your offer. If they don’t like it, feel offended by it, or don’t have the time to respond, they don’t have to. When making an offer, increase your chances of receiving a response by following the seller’s offer instructions, so your offer stands out competitively.
While the house seller not responding isn’t common, it happens especially in a multiple offer situation or bidding war. Sellers often prioritize the offers they’ll consider and respond to and ignore the rest if they aren’t legally obligated to respond, as this does vary by state.
How Long Do They Have To Respond?
Legally speaking, there isn’t a time frame sellers must respond to your offer. However, it’s an unspoken rule in the industry that sellers and/or the listing agents should respond within a few days, with 48 hours the norm.
In certain states, an offer is considered revoked, and you are no longer legally bound to it after a certain number of days.
For example, in California, the contract is considered null and void at 5:00 p.m. on the third day after the buyer signs it if the seller hasn’t responded. The rules aren’t as clear in Texas, but most buyers can consider the offer null and void after 2 – 4 days, according to the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.
What To Do If You Don’t Receive A Response
While it’s frustrating to make an offer on a house with no response, there are ways around it.
This may not be what you want to hear, but be patient. Remember, the seller is selling a piece of their life. A few more days may be what’s needed before the seller can decide how to proceed. This doesn’t mean the seller won’t accept your offer or at least counteroffer, but they may need time to think it through.
Talk To Your Agent
It’s important to talk to your agent during this time. Chances are, your agent has been through this situation a few times and can guide you through it. They may have advice on how to proceed, such as adjusting your offer, waiting it out, or writing the seller a letter about why you want the house.
Real estate agents are good at reading people and situations and can help you decide how to proceed, so you don't make any rash decisions and lose money.
Be Cautious Making Offers On Multiple Homes
Even though it’s frustrating to wait to hear about an offer, have patience. If you make offers on multiple homes, what happens if all offers are accepted? If you put earnest money down on each home, you’ll lose your deposit on at least one of them.
It’s also not fair to any of the sellers unless you are transparent about it upfront. In some states, you can’t make an offer on a house if you have a pending offer somewhere else. Your real estate agent will guide you on the laws/requirements in your state and help you decide if/when it’s a good idea to submit an offer elsewhere (it’s usually not).
The Bottom Line: The Right House Will Come When The Time Is Right
If you made an offer on a house with no response, don’t give up. It may not be the right house for you, or it may just take time to get all the details worked out. The home buying search can be stressful, overwhelming and fun all simultaneously, but eventually, the house that was meant to be will come along.
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