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Legally speaking: Can a listing agent refuse to present an offer?

By Lorie Garland, Assistant Vice President of Legal Services

The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work within the law, our “Legally Speaking” series spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one involves presenting offers… 

Q: My agent wrote an offer for a buyer using our company purchase contract. The listing agent has refused to present the offer. The listing agent told my agent that the offer has to be written on the Local Board’s purchase contract. Doesn’t Ohio license law require a listing agent to present all offers?

A: ORC § 4735.18(A)(36) provides that a licensee is subject to disciplinary sanctions if the licensee is found to have “failed to inform the licensee’s client of the existence of an offer or counteroffer or having failed to present an offer or counter offer in a timely manner, unless otherwise instructed by the client, provided the instruction of the client does not conflict with any state or federal law.” ORC § 4735.63 provides a specific list of duties a licensee representing the seller owes to the seller. One of these duties is to “accept delivery of and present any purchase offer to the seller in a timely manner, even if the property is subject to a contract of sale, lease, or letter of intent to lease. ORC § 4735.51(O) defines “timely” to mean “as soon as possible under the particular circumstances.”

Ohio license law clearly requires a listing agent to present all offers in a timely manner. The expectation being if a seller has specifically directed their agent not to present any offers (a contract is pending and the seller does not want a backup) or an offer with a specific term (a contract contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home or under a certain price). If the seller does, in anyway, limit the offers that can be presented, the listing agent should document the seller’s request in writing. Only if the seller has directed the listing agent not to present an offer should an offer not be presented. Therefore, unless the seller has directed their agent to only present offers written on the local board’s purchase contract, the listing agent should present the offer.

Tags: legal, Legally Speaking