When does the sale become finalised?

As soon as the seller signs the offer to purchase, acceptance of your offer formally takes place. The document now becomes a valid agreement of sale and no further formalities are needed to finalise the deal. Until the seller actually signs the offer, no contract exists.
Can I withdraw my offer after signing it?

The offer will have a period of time for acceptance by the seller, usually a few days after you have signed it. Offers are normally  irrevocable. Until this period expires you cannot withdraw it. The seller may accept the offer at any time during the specified period.

Your best option if wanting to withdraw, is to immediately notify your agent (Another good reason to use a buying agent) and allow them to approach the seller informing them of the situation. In most cases you will find the seller willing to co-operate and if the agent is professional, they too will accomodate you.
How long does the seller have to respond?                                                                                             Property Network Navigation Top

This will depend on the time period you are prepared to allow him to do so. Your agent will guide you on this, but you should not allow the seller more than a few days to accept or revoke the offer. If nothing happens during this period your offer will lapse.
Can the seller accept the offer conditionally?

Yes, he may, but he is effectively making a counter-offer to you and the sale will only be finalised if and when you are prepared to accept his terms. These can be negotiated through your agent. No sale will actually exist until you both agree on all its terms and sign accordingly.
Can the estate agent withhold the offer?

No. Once you have signed an offer to purchase which has been drawn up by an estate agent, the agent is compelled to submit it to the seller forthwith. Your agent may not withhold it if he/she gets a better offer immediately after yours or present that other offer first.
What if the seller receives two offers simultaneously?                                                                            
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If your agent or even two different agents bring offers from two different prospective purchasers at the same time, the seller has complete freedom either to reject both offers or to accept the one he prefers and reject the other. He does not have to give either of them preferent attention.

If he wishes to accept both, one of these however will have to have a clause inserted saying "subject to successful cancellation of all previous offers" there will have to be a caluse specifying how notice will be given to the first offer if the second is first to obtain a bond. Property Network contracts already have these provisions built in.
Must he sell to me if I offer his asking price?

No. Even if the seller has given a mandated selling price to an agent he is not obliged to accept an offer at this price. You are the one making the offer, not him. If he rejects it he may still be liable to the agent for commission as the agent will have completed his/her mandate.
Is a verbal acceptance by the seller enforceable?                                                                                 
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No. Even if he phones you and says he is accepting your offer but then changes his mind and does not sign, no contract will exist. By law all property sales must be reduced to writing and signed by both parties before a valid agreement of sale takes place.
Can the seller accept the offer after the expiry date?

Not unless you are still willing to buy his property and you are willing to sign an addendum extending the acceptance date. Otherwise the offer will lapse automatically once the stipulated period expires and the seller has not formally accepted the offer.
Can the seller reject the offer and then change his mind?                                                                     
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No, definitely not. If he advises you or the estate agent, before the expiry date, that he is not willing to accept your offer, then he is deemed to have formally rejected it. He may not thereafter change his mind and accept it – unless it is with your consent.

Do make sure that you get the rejection in writing - you do not want to be caught making an offer on another property only to find out that the original seller has now accepted your offer and is holding you to it and denies the original rejection.

Back the Legal Advice Centre for all your legal answers
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