Legal Hotline: Can I Hold Off on Submitting Offers

Is it legal to include a date certain in a listing when all offers will be presented to the seller?

Yes, an agent may hold off presenting offers to a seller so long as the delay is the result of a lawful instruction from the seller. 254 CMR 3.11(d) states “All offers submitted to brokers or salespeople to purchase or rent real property that they have a right to sell or rent shall be conveyed forthwith to the owner of such real property.” Further, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 1-6, requires that all offers and counteroffers be presented as quickly as possible. The law allows the seller to set the parameters, which includes specifying a date certain for all offers to be presented. It is important to remember, however, that this decision must be the seller’s. An agent may not unilaterally make a determination to hold all offers until a date certain, or place any other limitations on the presentation of offers. It is recommended that any seller instructions be reduced to writing to mitigate potential liability.

If there is a concern that a listing agent failed to present an offer to their seller, a buyer’s agent has the authority, under Standard of Practice 1-7, to request in writing that the listing broker provide written confirmation that the offer was submitted, or that the seller has waived the obligation. This does not place a requirement on the seller to formally sign the “rejection” portion of an offer, but places the onus instead on the listing agent to confirm that they have complied with the law.

The information and services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at