by Phoenix attorney Christopher A. Combs, partner with Combs Law Group, P.C.
Question: My wife and I are a young Hispanic couple who saw a “For Sale” sign on a home in Surprise that looked attractive to us. We contacted the listing broker, and we were told that the listing price was $198,000.00. I went through the home the first time with the listing broker, and the listing broker said that he thought that the seller would seriously consider an offer in the mid-$190’s. When I went to the home the second time with my wife before making an offer, the seller was there. After we left, I telephoned the listing broker to tell him that we wanted to write up an offer of $196,000.00, but the listing broker said that the seller had decided to take the home off the market. I then said that we would offer the full list price of $198,000.00, but the listing broker said that the seller was no longer interested in selling his home. If we present an offer to the seller of $198,000.00, is the seller required to accept this offer? Also, we think that the seller does not want to sell to us because we are Hispanic. Isn’t that type of discrimination against the law?
Answer: The $198,000.00 list price is simply an invitation by the seller for potential buyers to make an offer. Therefore, even if you make a full cash offer of $198,000.00, with no contingencies such as financing and inspection, the seller is not obligated to sell to you. The seller may, however, owe the listing broker a commission for providing a ready, willing, and able buyer at the $198,000.00 list price.
If you have reason to believe that the seller refused to entertain your offers, and took the home off the market because you are Hispanic, you may have the basis for a fair housing complaint. For more details, you should contact the City of Surprise’s Community Services Department at 623-815-5495, or the Arizona Attorney General’s office at 602-240-2052.
The above is for informational purposes only and is not intended as definitive legal or tax advice. You should not act upon this information without seeking independent legal counsel. If you desire legal, tax or other professional advice, please contact your attorney, tax advisor or other professional consultant. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2006, all rights reserved.