April 25th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Question: I just submitted an offer on my buyers’ behalf. My buyers signed the offer on Page 9 of the Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA). But the listing agent said she will not present our offer to the seller until the buyers insert their initials at the bottom of the last page (Page 10) where it says “Buyer Acknowledges that page 10 is a part of this Agreement.” Can the listing agent do that? Are the initials on the last page legally required?

Answer: As to your first question, the answer is “it depends.” Both the MLS rules and the NAR Code of Ethics require a listing agent to present an offer as soon as possible. However, the problem is we don’t know if the listing agent decided not to present your buyers’ offer on her own or with the seller’s permission. If she made the decision on her own, she has violated the MLS and ethics rules (not to mention her fiduciary duty to the seller). If the listing agent has the seller’s permission (and no ulterior motives), she has not violated the rules.

As to your second question, the answer is “no.” Because the buyers’ signatures are now on Page 9 instead of Page 10 of the RPA, C.A.R. added a place at the bottom of Page 10 for the buyers to acknowledge receipt of that page by inserting their initials. Having the buyers’ initials on Page 10 is not legally required, but it is definitely a good way to show that the buyers have reviewed and agreed to that last page.

The ultimate question in your situation is whether you should challenge what the listing agent is saying or get the buyers’ initials. I’d generally recommend doing? both. Tell the listing agent that her request is highly unusual, given that your attorney has already told you that the buyers’ initials on Page 10 are not legally required, and at the same time, get your buyers’ initials anyway and resubmit their offer.

-Thank you to Bill Taylor for suggesting this week’s legal tip.

Copyright© 2016 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP). Any unauthorized reproduction or use of this material is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. This information is believed to be accurate as of April 25, 2016. It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice in individual situations, and is not intended to nor does it create a standard of care for real estate professionals.

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