Disclosing Buyer’s Withdrawal from Multiple Offer Situation

QUESTION: I have a property listed for sale. Two offers were received. At my seller’s request, I informed the agents for both buyers that this is a multiple offer situation, and that their clients should each submit their highest and best offer. Buyer number 1 has decided to withdraw her offer rather than compete with buyer number 2. Do I have to tell buyer number 2 that buyer number 1 has withdrawn her offer?

ANSWER: We think not. There is no specific provision in the North Carolina Licensing Law that covers this question. In the multiple offer context, the Real Estate Commission has taken the position that real estate agents must treat all prospective buyers honestly and fairly. Whatever information the seller’s agent has permission from the seller to disclose must be disclosed to all prospective buyers equally in order to keep the playing field level for all contestants.

In this case, your seller-client has clearly given you permission to disclose to the contestants that there are multiple offers under consideration. In this situation, if your client so directs you, it is certainly permissible to tell all of the interested buyers that they should submit their highest and best offer. Once you have done that, we know of no obligation to disclose to the contestants how the other contestants have responded to the seller’s request for a “highest and best” offer, even if that response was to withdraw from the competition altogether.

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