Real estate buyers fall victim to ‘offer shopping’

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DEAR BOB: About two weeks ago, we made a written offer to buy a "For Sale by Owner" house. The sellers had all the forms and they filled them out with the price we wanted to offer (about $7,500 below the asking price). They said they would "think about it." When I phoned the sellers a few days ago, they said they accepted a better purchase offer, which was about $5,000 higher than our offer. Shouldn't they have given us a chance to match that second offer? – Lance R. DEAR LANCE: You were a victim of "offer shopping." That can easily happen when a naive buyer like you makes an open-end purchase offer with no expiration date. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. If you had been represented by a buyer's agent, that person would have suggested your offer be valid for not longer than 24 hours. A limited time for purchase offer acceptance puts pressure on the home seller to promptly accept, reject or counteroffer. Instead, your seller obviously showed your offer to other buyers to "s...