Can a listing agent reject an emailed offer?

QUESTION:  I am a buyer’s agent. I showed some clients a home that was listed for sale and they decided to make an offer. My clients signed an Offer to Purchase and Contract (form 2-T) and several addenda. I scanned those documents and emailed them to the listing agent as a pdf attachment. The listing agent just called and told me that he would not accept an emailed offer, and that he wanted “hard” copies of the signed offer and addenda delivered to him before he would present them to his clients. Is that a proper request or demand?

ANSWER:  Absolutely not. Under the law of agency, a seller’s agent has a duty to communicate all offers on a listed property to the seller as soon as possible. In addition, Real Estate Commission Rule A.0106 requires all brokers to deliver to their customer or client a copy of any written agency agreement, contract, offer, lease, rental agreement, option, or other related transaction document within three days of the broker’s receipt of the executed document. This means that a seller’s agent may not withhold or delay the delivery of offers, or impose conditions on the delivery of offers. Note that orally communicating the terms of an offer to a seller-client does not relieve the listing agent from delivering the written offer within three days as required by the Rule.

In its North Carolina Real Estate Manual, the Real Estate Commission acknowledges that an offer to purchase real estate can be communicated as an attachment to an email transmission.

Of course, the offeree must have a computer and be able to receive both the email and the attachment in complete and proper format. In the transaction you describe, the listing agent clearly received your email, and apparently had no complaint about the completeness of the attachment.

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