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Withdrawing an Offer

Withdrawing an Offer


Apparently, a person making an offer to purchase real estate can withdraw an offer prior to the “communication of acceptance” of the offer by the Seller to Buyer.

What does this mean?

I know once communication of offer acceptance takes place, it is legally binding?


If an Offer is drawn up and signed, then the Buyer’s agent may refer to it as an Offer (Bill 55). Otherwise, the agent cannot make any reference to its existence.

The agent may then say that they would like to present the Offer at 7:00 pm and it’s irrevocable until 10:00 pm. Assume the phone call took place at 5:15 pm, the Buyer’s agent can talk about it, but the Listing agent cannot until that Offer is “received” within the meaning of Bill 55. That does not mean sent over or presented, it is simply referring to the “receipt of the knowledge of the existence of the Offer”. So, if the Buyer’s agent then sends a text or email (or something in writing) at 5:30 pm, then it’s “received” at 5:30 pm. This doesn’t mean that the Offer is presented or that the Listing agent has it, it just means that they know that it’s coming.

At any time prior to the actual presentation and delivery of the Offer into the hands of the Listing agent, the Buyer may simply decide not to proceed. The mere fact that the Offer has been “received” in the context of Bill 55, does not mean that it cannot be revoked.

Once the Offer has been presented and delivered into the possession of the Listing agent, it may not be revoked. The reason is that it is under seal.

So, if the Listing Agent got it in hand at 7:10 pm, the Seller has until 10:00 to accept it.

If the Seller rejects it, or counters it at 8:30 pm, then the Buyer’s Offer can no longer be accepted. It’s already been dealt with. No second chances. It’s over, It’s done.

Signing the COA has nothing to do with it. It’s nice, but “execution” took place on the line above. However, execution or signing is insufficient. Acceptance is a two step process: 1) signing and 2) communicating that fact to the Buyer’s agent.

If the Seller signed at 9:45 pm and the Listing agent called the Buyer’s agent at 9:55 pm to advise of the acceptance of the deal, then we have a valid contract which started at 9:55 pm.

If however that call was delayed and not made until 10:05 pm, then it’s too late. There’s no contract since it was not accepted within the irrevocable period. Acceptance includes that final step, namely the communication.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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