There are no shades of grey in real estate! Well, there ought to be no shades of grey in the real estate industry! Unfortunately, many Brokers and Sales Representatives paint with a shaded brush leaving Buyers and Sellers unprotected.

I was recently approached by acquaintances about verbal offers and verbal counter offers. I have been contacted about this in the past on numerous occasions, which prompted me to write this blog and clear up the air!

Visualize two scenarios:y8

A sales representative representing a Seller meets with his/her client and presents a written offer and follows this with a statement:

“I also have a second offer, a verbal offer from another sales representive from another Buyer.”

In the second scenario, another sales representive representating his/her Buyer client states to her/his client about a counter offer:

“tell me the amount of money you want to counter, and I will call the Seller’s sales representative and let him/her know that is your offer. No need to put it in writing. If accepted we will do that later”.

What should occur next, is the sound of three buzzers, like those viewed on some reality TV shows, when the 3 judges show their displeasure in the performance of the performer by hitting the buzzer. It is clear, and ALL BROKER OR RECORDS, BROKERS AND SALES REPRESENTATIVES KNOW, THAT VERBAL OFFERS ARE NOT COMPLIANT. These scenarios leave vulnerable Buyers and Sellers at risk and unprotected from unscrupulous realtors.


The Real Estate Council of Ontario, known as RECO, the governing body for real estate in Ontario makes it VERY CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT that the handling of offers MUST BE IN WRITING.

RECO in their News Bulletin states:

“Offers must be made in WRITING. Please keep in mind that a written offer must be SIGNED TO BE VALID.”

“A registrant CANNOT INDICATE THAT THEY HAVE AN OFFER unless they have a WRITTEN offer.”

They further emphasize in SECTION 35.1(1) of the REBBA


(a) while acting on behalf of a purchaser, present an offer to purchase real estate EXCEPT if the offer is in WRITING;

(b) represent to any person that a written offer to purchase real estate exists EXCEPT if the offer is in WRITING. 2013, c. 13, Sched. 3, s. 1.

As you can see, there are no shades of grey in the position held by RECO and the regulations in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act. All offers MUST be in WRITING and only in WRITING! Verbal offers and verbal counter offers are NOT COMPLIANT! THOSE ARE THE FACTS! Those are the rules and regulations outlined in the Act to PROTECT Buyers and Sellers in Ontario!

A VERBAL OFFER IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON! Having said that, some people in my business do it all the time.

I don’t care who you are, who you know, and who you’re dealing with, there is no such thing as a “verbal offer” in the sale of real estate.

When it comes to buying a home, it’s clear that making a merely verbal offer, DOES NOT FLY. You need to enter into a written contract with the Seller or Buyer to ensure that your and their interests are protected. Once again, however, we see events to the contrary all the time. “DON’T EVER NEGOTIATE VERBALLY”.

Registrants can come up with all sort of reasons in an attempt to justify verbal offers. Don’t be gullible. Don’t be fooled. Don’t get sucked into this type of nonsense.


First Reason:Laziness

LAZINESS… Imagine, for a moment paying a commission of 5% or 6% to a representative that is too lazy to negotiate an offer in it’s WRITTEN FORM. On a $200 000 transaction that is about $10 000 to $12 000 in commission. Let’s not forget to add the taxes for services rendered. I doubt that Sellers and Buyers want to pay remuneration to realtors for negotiating non-compliant verbal offers or verbal counter offers.

We all know that writing an offer requires more effort, takes more time, reflects a high standard of accountability and requires more diligence on the part of the sale representative. WELL, OF COURSE! The offer is now documented and binding, and removes any misunderstanding to protect their clients. That is the responsibility of the realtor…that is their job!  That is the reason they get paid a commission; to represent their client’s in a COMPLIANT and ETHICAL manner. Verbal offers sound more like a standard “retail buying experience,” oriented sales pitch I suggest; the sale representative wanting to make quick money with the least amount of effort. It is a shame to say, but verbal offers and verbal counter offers are more in line with a yard sale transaction.

Second Reason:Unscrupulous-businessman-lying-on-the-phone-nose-growing-longer-with-each-lie

Verbal offers are an unscrupulous way to test the waters. It’s a way some brokers and sales representatives have of “fishing” to see if the Seller (or Seller’s registrant) thinks an offer might be well-received, and worth writing.

A verbal offer is most likely not binding or enforceable, and since it’s not spelled out, it’s often loaded with misunderstandings. Without the paperwork, a verbal offer, a verbal counter offer and even a verbal acceptance is just CHEAP TALK.

Verbal offers and verbal counter offers, hold NO VALUE whatsoever. A lawyer might argue with me, and point out a scenario in which a verbal agreement for the purchase and sale of real property could be binding, but I’d be quick to ask, “What legal hoops have to be jumped through for the buyer or seller to be remedied?” Would you spend three years and $100,000 in legal fees chasing a $2,000, $5000 or $20 000 verbally stated deposit cheque?  Of course not!

y9 Verbal offers and counter offers is evidence of misleading and abusive practices in the real estate industry. In every profession, there are good and not so good people. There are compliant and not so compliant people. There are ethical and unethical people.

Remember, a verbal offer or verbal counter offer isn’t worth the paper it is printed on and is not compliant!

A shrewd registrant may attempt to present you with a verbal offer or imply they have a verbal counter offer. REFUSE to negotiate any offers or counter offers that are not in writing on a standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale with required supporting documents.


Power and influence of the written agreement will make an enormous difference and will provide happy endings.

If any Buyer or Seller is presented with a verbal offer or a verbal counter offer, the strong reaction should be, and staying with the buzzer theme at the beginning of this blog, tell their representative to buzz off. Cancel any representation agreement they have with their representative and seek professional, competent services from a broker or sales representative that fulfills their fiduciary obligations, practices in strict accordance with the Act, places the interests of their clients above everything except the law, and honours their obligations in various governing legislation.

Move on! Find a professional and ethical registrant that doesn’t accept verbal offers or verbal counter offers from their colleagues. Find a professional and ethical registrant that presents only written offers, or written counter offers to their clients. Furthermore, find a professional and ethical representative, that strives for compliance to PROTECT THE INTEREST of THEIR CLIENTS and accepts only written offers and counter offers during the complete negotiation process.


The above Real Estate information topic of discussion was provided by Marc Martin, Your Real Estate Guru! Marc created marcrealestateguru.blog site because of a need to provide a trustworthy, authoritative and a leading blogging home to “Keeping Real Estate…Real.” Its various insightful blogs will benefit Sellers, Buyers, Realtors and anyone interested in Real Estate. Genuineness, truthfulness and straightforwardness are the building footings for every article. Marc can be reached by email at marctherealestateguru@gmail.com or by phone/text at (705) 676-7799.

Marc has helped people move in and out of many homes in the Temiskaming Shores area and strives for perfection in every transaction. “I do more because you are worth more, and being a protector of my client’s interest is the single most crucial factor in my business!”

Copyright © 2018 Marc Martin
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