Legal Hotline: Is a Listing Agent Able to Hold Offers to Present to the Seller at a Later Date?

Yes, but only if instructed by their seller to present all offers at a certain time. An agent may not unilaterally decide to hold all offers until a date certain or place any other limitations on the presentation of offers. If a seller has not instructed the agent to delay the presentation of offers, the agent must promptly present them as required by the Massachusetts Regulations and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

If an agent receives instructions from a seller modifying any REALTOR® obligations, they should memorialize the instructions in writing to assure clarity and reduce risk. It is important to remember that any decision to modify these obligations must be the seller’s. Additionally, if the presentation of offers will be delayed, the agent should convey that information to prospective buyers, and must be followed.

Delayed Offer Legal Hotline Graphic 1

If a buyer’s agent has concerns that a listing agent failed to present an offer to the seller, REALTORS® can seek redress through a written request of the broker under authority of Article 1 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics (See Standard of Practice 1-7). This request obligates the broker to provide written confirmation that the offer was submitted, or that the seller has waived that obligation. This does not obligate the seller to formally sign the “rejection” portion of an offer, but instead places the onus on the listing agent to confirm that they have complied with the law.

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