You may expect a seller to return an answer to you within a reasonable period after you submit your offer. However, while this is not an irrational expectation, you may find your hopes quickly dashed.
Ideally, the seller will give you an answer, even if it is one that you do not like, quickly. That way, you can proceed to your next step, whatever that might entail. Nonetheless, there are two ways to look at the situation, legally and from a practical business perspective.
The upshot is that, in New York City, the seller does not have to respond to you within a prescribed time. Although many sellers agonize over the process, and it is fraught with challenges, he or she can only do one of three things in response to your offer. The seller can accept your offer, provide a counteroffer, or reject your offer outright. However, if he or she is turning down your offer, the seller can respond that he or she is not considering your offer or merely not provide you with an answer at all. This non-response is a rejection, but it leaves you on tenterhooks.
While the seller does not have a time limit to respond to you, this is not the best way to do business. Admittedly, the seller may have a valid reason for doing so, though. Notably, the seller could choose to use your offer to gain leverage with other competing bids, or as a back-up in case another offer falls through. This could happen if the seller does not like your offer, which may occur for a variety of reasons. These include deeming it as too low. Alternatively, the seller may not believe you can pass the board’s muster, or your closing timeline may not work with his or her schedule.
Typically, most sellers will respond to you within a business day or two. Since many real estate work weekends, you may not even have to wait that long. But, the seller may wish to take some time to mull over your offer. In any case, having to wait a day or two for a response is reasonable. If you receive a counteroffer, you can assume you are at least in the ballpark, and it is a positive sign that they are doing business the right way.
Keep in mind, if the sellers choose not to counter your offer, it is essentially game over.
A buyer’s options
You can stipulate that you need a response within a certain prescribed time period. Otherwise, the offer is invalid. If you do not hear back, you should consider this non-response to mean that the seller is not interested in pursuing your offer.
Your exclusive buyer’s agent is your conduit into the seller’s world. But, that does not mean he or she is going to have more luck getting the seller to respond. However, you do not have to sit around, waiting to hear back. In New York, you are entirely free to walk away at this point in the process. Before a signed contract, you can merely let the sellers know that you are withdrawing your offer and moving on.