My House Is Under Contract, Can I Accept Another Offer?

Usually, this question pops up when an offer is presented and accepted, then later another, higher offer, is presented.  Can the new offer be accepted?  In most states, the answer is no.   In Ohio, once a purchase agreement is fully signed by both parties and delivered, it is valid & binding.  If the seller were to cancel the original contract just to accept a higher offer, there’s a good chance they would end up with a lawsuit on their hands for breach of contract.

Of course, a signed contract does not always guarantee a closing will happen.  There are many variables that can end a deal, depending on the purchase agreement.  A financing contingency or inspection contingency could make the deal fall through.

So, how can a seller keep that higher offer alive?  One way is by countering it onto a secondary position. If the buyer accepts being placed in a secondary position, then there’s a backup plan in place in case the primary deal falls through.  This is a great way that the seller can avoid having to put the house back active/on market. If the primary deal falls through and there’s a secondary in place, then it defers to the secondary and you start moving through any contingency periods in the new deal immediately.  So, while a new higher offer cannot simply replace an original accepted purchase agreement, once moved to a backup position, it becomes a fabulous tool to use as leverage on the primary deal and adds a level of reassurance for the seller in case of buyer default on the primary.

As always, if you find yourself in this situation, we recommend you seek legal counsel with any questions of the law. This article is not meant to be legal advice.

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